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. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.
I recently remarked to a friend of mine that I would be glad when we finally finished walking through Hebrews for this devotional. He asked me why I felt that way. My response was that it’s been heavy lifting as we’ve read through Hebrews, which is why I laughed out loud this morning when I read in verse 22, “for I have written to you briefly.” I can’t imagine what it would be like to hear the full version!
I love the central part of this passage in verses 20-21. It’s a fantastic benediction that many churches use today at the end of their worship services. Of special importance, apart from the emphasis on the resurrected Jesus and that He is our true shepherd, is the emphasis that all of us are called and equipped to do God’s will. In other words, anyone who has entrusted their life to Jesus has a place and role to fulfill as part of God’s kingdom. His kingdom will be established in our hearts and lives and all of us are called to do all that we can to accomplish God’s will, that which is pleasing in His sight, not only in our lives but also in the world, to His glory and praise.
And let’s not forget verses 17-18 in that regard. This is a charge to the congregation to do all it can to support and respect the leaders within a church. Here’s the thing. Congregations are to do all that they can to make the work of the leaders a joy and a delight. They are to pray for their leaders and support their leaders so that at the end of the day, the pastor goes home thinking, “I have a great congregation and it is a joy to serve them.”
To that end, we should pray for our pastors and leaders constantly. In fact, here, Hebrews asks for that very thing (verse 18), as does the apostle Paul throughout all his letters. I can tell you from my own experience as a pastor how lifting it is to know that I’m prayed for and to know that I’m supported, to know that others are present with me as we strive together as a connected community of faith in Christ.
This leads me to the final verse of Hebrews, 13.25. Grace matters. At its core, grace is all about presence and here, Hebrews is speaking of God’s presence with them. Presence matters. God’s presence, His grace with us enables us to love one another as Christ loves us. Love not as a feeling, because feelings come and go. This grace, this presence, is a commitment that is expressed through our actions, through what we do. Sometimes it means being physically present with another person, and at other times it means being present by thinking about them and praying for them.
When we are present with others, praying for them, supporting them, or just being there with them, God’s love is reflected and reproduced in our lives.
What is being reflected and reproduced in your life?
1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
The Lord is present with you. Who needs to see His presence revealed and reflected within you today?
God bless you, and know that I am praying for you constantly.