Heb. 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
In the life of each congregation of the Lord’s church, it is essential that we continue to appoint men who will lead the congregation as shepherds or elders. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both give the qualifications of the men who are to fulfill this function of leadership in the church. As important as it is to find men who are mature Christians who meet the Biblical standards of leadership, one must keep in mind that this is only one part of what helps a congregation function as God design. Another part of having a faithful congregation is having faithful followers.
Heb. 13:17 points out that the congregation must be one that faithfully follows godly leadership. This passage teaches members of a congregation that they are to follow in such a way that they help their elders enjoy their job as shepherds. This is done in part of being good followers.
I am sure we have been in a situation at one time or another, such as at school or at work, when it seemed that there were “too many coaches and not enough players.” In situations like this, nothing can get accomplished, the same is true in the congregation. If the congregation did not have leaders to lead and followers to follow the congregation would debate every idea and situation that came along, and nothing would be accomplished.
Although it is true wise shepherds are open to suggestions, and advice, after all, Pro. 15:22 tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” But with all the counsel and advice elders may receive, they still need to make a decision and give direction to the congregation. Sometimes shepherds must make the hard choices, (like how to deal with the pandemic). It is during difficult decisions elders need the understanding of the congregation and “good followership”; Heb. 13:17 puts it “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Of course, Heb. 13:17 is not talking about following an eldership that wants to deviate from God’s Word of truth, and lead people away from God but as an eldership follows Christ, the congregation should follow them.
Being good followers helps the church to function with unity, with a single mind, and helps the whole congregation to function in brotherly love (see 1 Cor. 1:10).
It is essential to have godly men shepherding the congregation, but it is also essential that we have faithful members following Christ and our elders as they strive to help each member on their journey to Heaven.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
There once was a young boy who was playing by the seashore. While playing he came across some seashells. He started playing with the shells when to his surprise a white, smooth, round, stone fell out of one of the shells. He began playing with it when he decided to see how far he could throw this white stone. As the white stone was in midflight, the little boy realized the true identity of the stone; it was a precious pearl. At that instant he yelled for his family to come and help him find this pearl that had landed in the water. As the family searched the water, they could not find the pearl. It was gone forever (Author unknown).
This story reminds me of how many people today treat the marriage covenant between a husband and wife. Many enter marriage not realizing the value of this precious institution and end up throwing it away. Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” This verse tells us that marriage is an honorable thing before God and should be honored by human beings as well. The Bible tells us that marriage is honorable for at least six reasons. First, marriage provides companionship for man and woman, Genesis 2:18. Second, marriage helps a man and woman to be self-controlled, Hebrews 13:4. Third, marriage completes a man and woman, Genesis 2:23. Fourth, marriage between a husband and his wife is the best environment for raising children, Genesis 1:28, 9:1 and Malachi 2:15. Fifth, marriage provides protection for the family, Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4-5 and Malachi 2:15. Sixth, marriage is a visual object lesson of the relationship between Christ and his church, Ephesians 5:31-33 and Revelation 21:2.
Are you honoring your marriage?
Sometimes fear shows up uninvited. Perhaps that happens because it sometimes takes our hearts awhile to catch up to what our mind knows. Yes, we know God is in control. We know He is greater than the world. So why does fear show up in the presence of a lethal virus? When we hear about the world turning a little more against Christ and His followers what do we do with this uninvited sense of dread? I suggest we do the same thing the Israelites once did: act on faith despite the fear.
When the people of Israel returned from exile they set up their lives among many neighbors who did not love the Lord. Like in some places of the world today it was not safe to worship God. They knew it was important to rebuild the temple but they also knew that could get heavy objects thrown at them. So what did they do? “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices” (Ezra 3:3). Were they afraid? Yes. Did they let their fear stop them from publicly proclaiming God’s praise? No. They decided their faith was more important than their fear.
We find out later that they were afraid for good reason. Their idolatrous neighbors were both sneaky and mean. They did everything they could to prevent Israel from worshiping God. They sent spies, they wrote slanderous letters . . . the works. Our fear might also have a reasonable cause. Worshiping God just might get you persecuted. Getting thrown out of your house, losing relationships with family members, or getting demoted at your job are all outcomes that are not out of the question. Praying at your restaurant table might lead to your atheist waiter to spit in your food. Sure. But what is more important to you: your faith or your fear? Let us be strong and courageous! If we do become afraid I pray our fear does not cripple us.
Despite our fear of the peoples around us may we overcome and worship God.
Children's Bible Lesson on Abel
By Mark T. Tonkery
Ecc 3:1-3, states, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;”
For me, this must be a time for things to break down because I do not remember a time in my life when so many of our things have broken at once. During these past three months, our washing machine broke, our old desktop computer finally broke down for good, one of our house fans stopped working, one of our ceiling fans also broke, our garden house broke too, my glasses broke, and just this morning my alarm clock died; this is just the shortlist and not to mention all the things related to Covid-19. (I very thankful nothing major, expect the washing machine has broken, or at least not yet). Now I don’t know if it is because we have used these items more while we have been staying home or what the reasons are. (One elder I used to work with, would tell me I had too much stuff; maybe he is right).
Now with the way things are made today, very few of these items can be repaired, most can only be recycled or thrown away. Someone has made the commit that we live in a “throw-away” society; rarely do we or can we fix things and for that matter, it is almost as cost affect to buy a new product. Broken things in our eyes are not very useful.
But you know not everything in life that breaks needs to be thrown away. Vance Havner wrote, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
We have a God who uses broken things; He can even use people when sin has broken their lives. Have you noticed as you read the Bible that it is often the broken people, the rebels (Moses), the prodigals (son in Luke 15), and the outcast (Rehab) that God uses?
In fact, often before we can be used in God’s service we too must be broken. It is when we are broken, we have a greater appreciation for what God has done for us, we realize our blessings, and we are more useful in His Kingdom.
Psalm 51:17, tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
If your life is broken, come to Christ today, let today be a time to build up! Christ can rebuild our broken lives when we confess our faith in Him (Rom. 10:9,10), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30,31), put Him on in baptism for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38) and continue to live faithful unto the Lord (Rev. 2:10).
We sometimes sing, “Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin. He will create anew, Make whole again. Your empty wasted years, He will restore, And your iniquities, Remember no more.” (Hymn, Bring Christ your broken life, by T.O. Chisolm).
Will you bring your broken life to Christ today?
Written by Mark T. Tonkery