TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
The Christian’s Attitude Toward the Pastor, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #31)
Last week, we began talking about how we ought to relate to our pastors and the other leaders whom God has placed over us in the faith. We learned from this passage in First Thessalonians that we ought to show appreciation for those leaders who demonstrate the following three characteristics: (1) they are called by God to their position, (2) they have the spirit of true servanthood, and (3) they are willing to admonish, correct, and warn you about negative behavior and temptations.
In the classic story Pilgrim’s Progress, the role of the pastor is fulfilled by a man named Evangelist. As you will recall, the two pilgrims, Christian and Faithful, were met by Evangelist as they traveled together to the Celestial City. Let’s listen in on some of their conversation.
Evangelist said, “How have you managed, my friends, since the time of our last meeting? What have you encountered, and how have you behaved yourselves?”
Then Christian and Faithful told him of all the things that had happened to them along the way, and how they had passed through many difficulties up to this point in their journey.
Then Evangelist said, “How glad I am, not so much that you met with trials, but rather that you have proved to be victors over them. And for this reason you have been enabled to continue thus far, notwithstanding your many weaknesses.
“Again I say just how pleased I am of this matter, and that for my own sake as well as yours. I have sowed, and you have reaped, and the day is coming when both he that sowed and they that reaped shall rejoice together, that is if you hold out [to the end]. For in due time you shall reap if you do not faint… Always let the kingdom be before you, and steadfastly believe concerning the things that are invisible. Let nothing in this life come between yourself and the world to come. Above all, pay attention to your own hearts with their indwelling lusts, for they are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Set your face with flint-like resolve since you have all power in Heaven and Earth on your side.”
We thank God for those evangelists and pastors who come alongside us to instruct us, encourage us, and warn us about the road ahead. Today, we are going to look at the rest of this passage as we consider how God wants us to treat our spiritual leaders. The Bible tells us “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”
The word esteem means to regard, to consider, or to reckon. It describes a mental process by which one evaluates and determines the worth of a person or thing. This verse is telling us to regard God-ordained spiritual leadership “very highly” in our minds. Perhaps, the reason why the mind is emphasized here is because Paul did not want the Christians to just esteem their leaders “very highly” with their mouths, while at the same time not truly respecting and loving them in their hearts and minds. Just as you would not want someone to tell you they love you and not really mean it, God does not want us to honor and respect pastors and other spiritual leaders only with our mouths. He wants us to have the right attitude toward them in our hearts as well.
Now, what does it mean to esteem them “very highly.” Why does Paul use a superlative here. He could have just said, “esteem them highly.” But he said, “very highly.” Adam Clarke states, “Christian ministers, who preach the whole truth, and labour in the word and doctrine, are entitled to more than respect; the apostle commands them to be esteemed, abundantly, and superabundantly; and this is to be done in love.” Matthew Poole said, “The words in Greek carry such an emphasis as cannot well be expressed in English, importing esteem and love to a hyperbole; their love was to be joined with esteem, and esteem with love, and both these to abound and superabound towards them.”
Now, we know that pastors are sinful people just like the rest of us. But our love and respect for them ought to extend beyond personal conflicts due to the office that God has placed them in. You might have disagreements with your pastor. You might not like his personality. You might not like his preaching style. But you ought to lay all of that aside and honor him in love because of the position God has placed him in. Theodore Hiebert said, “Whenever love does not dominate, the admonitions of the leaders, however much they may be deserved by the members, will always tend to provoke resentment against those giving the admonition. If they are to have cordial relations between leaders and members, love must prevail. When they have genuine love they will not merely tolerate the admonitions of their leaders but will graciously accept them.”
What is the primary reason we should honor or esteem our leaders very highly? Paul says we ought to do it “for their works sake.” We don’t honor them because of who they are, but because of the work they are engaged in. The fact that pastors and others in leadership positions in the church sacrifice to serve the people of God and be ministers of the Gospel is the reason why they are worthy of our honor, respect, and appreciation. We do not honor them because of their personality or because we happen to be in agreement with them. We honor them because they serve Christ and His Church. That is what makes them worthy of our respect and appreciation.
Finally, Paul gives us a brief command to “be at peace among yourselves.” One of the ways in which you can make a pastor’s job easier is to do what you can to have good relationships with others in the church. Don’t cause division. Don’t start arguments. Don’t instigate conflicts. Every time the pastor has to step in to deal with a petty difference that you have with someone else, that is time he has to take away from doing what God called him to do. Basically, Paul is telling us that we can help leaders do their jobs better by not causing division with others in the body of Christ.
The tasks that pastors and spiritual leaders carry out in the church are of great importance. The devil is constantly trying to tear them down, discourage them, and render them ineffective. As they strive to fulfill their roles following the example of Jesus Christ, we are called to love them, support them, honor them, and show appreciation for them.
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.