“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”
When you were a child in elementary school, you were often given a piece of paper with dotted lines and was told by your teacher to trace the lines. That little project was teaching you two important lessons. First, it was teaching you not to get away from the established rules in your life. Second, it was teaching you to follow the examples in your life.
In the verse above, God is teaching the believer to trace the lines of those who have gone before them. Three times in this chapter, God commands the believer to trace the lines of those “which have the rule over you.” The word “rule” is talking about those who guide you in the faith. Let me point out how God wants you to trace the lines of those who have led you in the faith.
First, trace the lines of their faith. The verse above says, “…whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” The best way to remember the great leaders of the past is to follow their faith. Sadly, many believers tend to follow the weaknesses or mannerisms of those from the past instead of following their faith. The mannerisms of these leaders from the past may or may not be good, but it is their faith that you need to remember and follow. You should follow the counsel, instructions and examples of their faith. If you follow their faith instead of their weaknesses, you will discover the blessings of their faith instead of the regrets of their weaknesses.
Second, trace the lines of their teaching and instructions. Verse 17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” What those from the past have taught you was not taught to hurt, but to help. You do yourself a great disservice when you choose to fight against what you have been taught by spiritual leaders, and especially the spiritual leaders from the past. You have to understand that your spiritual leaders are held accountable by how well they cared for your spiritual well-being. If you will submit to the leadership of faith, you will find yourself living in the joy of the LORD.
Third, trace the lines of their respect. Verse 24 says, “Salute all them that have the rule over you…” One thing you will notice from those great spiritual leaders of the past is their respect for those who led them. You would be wise to learn to respect those who lead you. Don’t fall into the trap of addressing leaders by their first name. Salute them properly because the office they hold deserves respect. We live in days when the respect for the office has been torn down with the casual addressing of leadership. Always address those in leadership properly realizing that you are showing those who follow you how to respect and address their leaders when they are your age.
My friend, stop trying to make your own lines and start tracing the lines of those spiritual leaders whom God has placed in your life. No, they are not god, but God has placed them in your life to teach you something that will make you a better spiritual leader in the future. Always remember that you will find a joyful end if you learn to trace the lines of faith of your spiritual leaders.