“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Christians are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (verse 15). Unlike the priests under God’s previous covenant who were restricted by the time and place and number of the sacrifices they offered, we can and should present our spiritual offerings before the Lord continually. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). From a heart filled with gratitude we should submit our praises to the Lord in song and prayer, both publicly and privately, and ever be proclaiming His grace and glory to the people we know and meet.
Proper and pleasing praise to God is not only the kind that is “offered up” from our “lips” to Him, but also the type that is sacrificed by our hands to our needy brethren. Our acts of kindness must be consistent with our words of worship. We dishonor God when we heap praises and thanksgiving upon Him, but then neglect to honor Him with merciful displays of benevolence toward our needy brethren in Christ. “Doing good and sharing” are sacrifices that “God is pleased” with (verse 16).
In a local fold, both the sheep and the shepherds have responsibilities toward one another. God requires the members to “obey” their leaders and “submit to them” (verse 17). We must we willing to follow the lead of our shepherds as they guide us by wisdom and protect us by experience because they “keep watch over our souls.” Dangers and pitfalls and ravenous wolves abound which threaten our spiritual welfare so it “would be unprofitable” for us, to say the least, to ignore their righteous guidance.
It is the elders’ responsibility to “shepherd the flock of God among” them, “exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to” their “charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3). As the Hebrews writer needed the prayers of his brethren (verse 18), so the Lord’s elders need the prayers of the Lord’s people. They have the toughest and most important job in the universe!
Please read Hebrews 13:20-25.
Have a great day!
- Louie Taylor