The leaders mouth
Once again the writer of Hebrews provided an occasion to consider the leaders mouth, or, at the least, what comes out of that mouth. Just as the spiritual leader was to be equipped with eyes to keep watch over the flock entrusted to his leadership (see Hebrews 13:17), this author expressed the expectation that the leader would have a mouth to speak. He wrote---
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the
outcome of their way of life , and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7, ESV
Perhaps it's a presumption that the spiritual leader would speak the word of God with his mouth. But, not so much today. There's an entirely new vocal agenda in the mouths of contemporary pop religionists. There are storytellers, stand-up comedians, illustrators, social commentators, and counselors on the stages of America's churches today. At the same time, the ivory tower guys caution us about the no-fly zones of modern preaching and teaching, as if there were areas of human life not addressed by the word of God, or positions men of cloth shouldn't take for the sake pf political expedience. Get a life! The writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to remember, that is, to pray for whose who had spoken to word of God to them. What is more, there is the expectation that these leaders actually lived what they spoke. And, there weren't any "no trespassing" markers mentioned in defining the word of God.
Here's one take away: spiritual leaders are expected to speak God's word to every human situation. That means the whole counsel of God as it applies to politics, the sanctity of human life, personal and family defense, human rights, moral right and wrong, personal finances, human sexuality, marriage and family issues, education, critical thinking, alcoholism, addictions, church attendance, and the truth that there is only one path to God, Jesus Christ the Lord, plus many more. That's one of the rubs in applying Hebrews 13:7 to life: we cannot be selective about what represents the word of God. There's no asterisk behind this verse. The phrase "the word of God" must mean the entire word of God regardless of our human preferences.
The leaders mouth has other spiritual direction. My friend Curt Bradford led me to a verse this morning that I may have conveniently overlooked for many years. Isaiah wrote this truth about the leaders mouth---
The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know
how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Isaiah 50:4, ESV
The spiritual leader has the heart of a learner and knows how to speak words of challenge, comfort, and encouragement to those who are weary. This is the leader with a renewed heart and mind and therefore a redemptive mouth.
Paul also wrote something spectacular about the mouth of those who belong to Christ. It is doubly applied to spiritual leaders----
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know
how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6, ESV
It's just true, some people willing to speak the whole counsel of God do so in an abrupt, abrasive manner that turns people away from God and spiritual truth. Even when addressing the hard themes of these times the words from our mouths should be gracious. Being seasoned with salt keeps the truth front and center. But, grace should mark every single word and thought.
Then, there's a rant! Right now some of our more visible preachers and teachers establish authenticity with their audience by speaking profanity from their mouths. One of the trends is to use the terms "freaking" or "frigging" in their messages, modern short-hand for the F-bomb. Excuse me, purveyors of authenticity. If you're so real, go ahead and drop the F-bomb. Everybody knows what "freaking" and "frigging; mean. You're being a fake when you use them. Paul wrote this, unless you've torn that page from your Bible---
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.
Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Ephesians 4:29, The Message
Jesus put the issue of the spiritual leader's mouth in great perspective. He said---
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the
evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of
the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6: 45, ESV
Hey, the spiritual leader has a mouth. Join me in praying that they be used to build His kingdom and glorify His name.