“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Several years ago, I had the privilege of being able to go to Camp David and see the presidential retreat. One of the things that sticks to my mind is the security detail and what we had to do just to get into the compound. Those military guards were serious about their job because they understood that the President’s life could be at stake with every person who is invited into the base.
As important as it is for the guard to be sure not to allow the wrong person into Camp David, it is vitally more important for the preacher to guard the souls of those whom he oversees. Paul was extremely concerned that “grievous wolves” would come and destroy the church with their heresy after he left the church of Ephesus. Because of this danger, he gave four warnings to the church leaders concerning their responsibilities.
First, the church leaders were to “take heed.” They were to “take heed” to themselves that they were right with the LORD. A church leader who is not right with the LORD will lead his flock into worldliness and heresy, and worldliness is the first step that leads to heresy. If you hold any position in the church, and especially the pastor, be sure that you are not living in such a manner that would cause the flock to go astray. “Take heed” to yourselves and be sure that your life is what it should be. You are not going to be able to guard the flock and feed them with the spiritual meat they need if you are not right with the LORD.
Second, the church leaders were to “watch.” There are two things a church leader is to watch so that wolves don’t destroy the flock. First, they are to watch that they endure the afflictions that come their way. You must be very careful that people don’t let their burdens overwhelm them to the point that they are willing to listen to the grievous wolves. The wolves are masters at seeing people when they are weak, and they play on their emotions to turn them from the ways that they should walk. When you see people who are going through tough times, it is the church leader’s responsibility to be extra careful to watch them, which means you need to stay close to them.
Moreover, a church leader is to watch that the flock is not soiling themselves in the world. Revelation 16:15 gives clear direction that the Christian is to keep his garment spotless. According to Hebrews 13:17, the leader will give an account as to how they guarded the Christian from worldliness. My friend, you are personally going to have to live a holy life if you are going to watch that the flock lives holy. You can’t keep others from spotting their garments if you are allowing the dirt of the world to spot your life.
Third, the church leaders were to “remember.” What are you to “remember?” You are to remember what you’ve been taught. We are blessed in this generation that we not only can read what those in the past taught us, but we can also listen to what they taught us. My friend, stop running to the grievous wolves of worldly religious leaders to get ideas on how to lead a church or to live the Christian life. The truths we have been taught from the past are still true today. Remember what you have been taught and do it. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel of Christianity. If you do what you have been taught, you will keep the grievous wolves away.