The Life List: Reasons To Be Joyful (Hebrews 13:7; 17-19)

Listen to your leaders, who have spoken God’s word to you. Notice the fruits of their lives and mirror their faith… 17 Listen to your leaders and submit to their authority over the community, for they are on constant watch to protect your souls, and someday they must give account. Give them reason to be joyful and not to regret their duty, for that will be of no good to you. 18-19 Pray for us, for we have no doubt that our consciences are clean and that we seek to live honestly in all things.

When we went through 1 Peter and 1Timothy, we talked about what God expects from leaders in the church. This is a crucial foundation. The bar is high. We are speak God’s word to you, have fruit in our lives that you can see, and have the kind of faith that would be good for you to mirror. That intimidates me. I am well aware that this is part of my “constant watch” over you for which I will someday have to give an account. I encourage you to pick up notes in the back that cover the biblical mandate on those of us in leadership. You have a biblical role to hold us accountable. 

Today, however, I want to talk about what you can do to make church leaders joyful and not regret their duty. I don’t have anyone here in mind. It’s just basic principles (and thanks to some area pastors for giving me their answers to this question). 

1.    Become a disciple of Jesus[1](#salvation #discipleship)

Embark on “a long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson) with Jesus as Savior and Lord.

2.    Pray and Eat the Word[2] (#reorientation)

These are both compasses showing us the spiritual true north. Pray honestly; pray accurately; read and study the Bible carefully and in the company of 2,000 years of Christian theologians.

3.    Adjust your life to your faith[3] (#integrity  #priorities)

Integrity = consistency; Priorities = habits that strengthen your life in the Kingdom

4.    Do community[4] (#accountability  #generosity  #presence)

Don’t hide; help others; be present.

5.    Support the work of the church[5] (#evangelize[6] #tithe  #volunteer)

6.    Love Deeply (#Mark12:28-34 #1Corinthians13) 

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34)

 

1 Corinthians 13 (The Voice)

 What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts. 

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete. 

Now as for the prophetic gifts, they will not last; unknown languages will become silent, and the gift of knowledge will no longer be needed. Gifts of knowledge and prophecy are partial at best, at least for now,10 but when the perfection and fullness of God’s kingdom arrive, all the parts will end. 

11 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 12 For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. 

But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love.

 


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[1]Psalm 34:8

[2]Ezekiel 3:3; Jeremiah 15:16; Revelation 10:9-10; Psalm 119: 101-103; 

[3]Luke 12:34; Proverbs 11:3

[4]James 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:17-19

[5]Mark 12:41-44

[6]Matthew 9:37-38