SOURCE OF JOY OR GRIEF?
According to Romans 14:12, we will all one day give an account of our lives to God. This is a serious motivation for living life carefully. While the believer is not under condemnation because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, there isindication in Scripture that our life choices will still have some impact upon us on judgment day.
The word account in Romans 14:12, is also used in Hebrews 13:17. God is exhorting saints toward obedience and submission in relation to those whom He has appointed to watch over their souls. Considering other Scripture that uses similar language, it is almost certain that He is specifically referring here to the relationship of saints and elders in the church. Have you placed yourself under the leadership of elders in a church who are committed to watch for your souls? Saints will give account to God for their attitudes and responses to those whom God has placed over their care in the church.
Yet, in Hebrews 13:17, elders are specifically singled out as the ones who must give account. This knowledge governs the nature of their care. This accounting is presumably before the Lord. It may be in prayer, implied in the word watch, used with prayer by Jesus in Mark 13:33. Or, it may be a final day accounting. In either case, there are two possible emotions the elders might have as they give account of the believers under their care: joy or grief.
Your attitude and relationship toward your elders in your church affect your elders in one way or another. One is good and the other is unprofitable for you. When your elders experience joy in their care for you because you are responding with obedience and submission, God is pleased. When your elders experience grief because you are resistant to their leadership or are making choices that ignore their spiritual oversight, God is not pleased. You are responsible to manifest your submission to God by bringing joy, not grief, to your elders. Obeying and submitting to the ones you see are tangible expressions of your surrendered attitude to the One you cannot see.
It is true, elders may sin in lording over church members. Such attitudes and actions of elders will be dealt with by the chief Shepherd. Trust that matter to Him, and if necessary humbly address this sin with your elders.
If you have a heart to please the Lord you must be concerned about the affect of your attitude and actions upon your elders. When you obey and submit there is joy, both in the elders and you. However you flesh out the meaning of unprofitable, it is obviously not desirable for you, and is dishonoring to Christ. Avoiding this conclusion is simple, though it may not be easy: obey and submit to those who have the rule over you. This is Christ’s order for His churches.
Humble yourself before the Lord and purpose to bring joy and not grief to your elders. If you must err, err on the side of obedience and submission, trusting the Lord as you pray for those appointed to lead.