1 Thessalonians 5.12-15

Sunday is the day for the family to come home from church and drink in the wonderful aroma of mom’s roast beef baking away in the oven. Aunts, uncles, cousins and of course immediate wild family members filled the house with conversation, laughter and teasing. When it is time for supper, the matriarch of the family calls all guests to the table. Conversations that were begun go on pause and are itching to continue.

Grace is spoken to the Lord over the food. All heartily join in the unison of “Amen!” Loud clamoring and clanking of utensils follows as food is passed and requested. Some in the family try to revitalize earlier conversations.

“I didn’t get anything out of  today’s message,” crows one cackling voice.
“Today’s message?” retorts the sarcasm at the other end of the table.
“Pastor has been on 1 Corinthians for two months. Enough already! Finish the book and let’s get on to something else,” a clearly thinking-highly-of-his-opinion voice chimed in.

Father had been listening patiently, now he gently knocked his spoon against the glass of water. “Enough. We have just thanked God for His generous provision of food. That is after we have earlier feasted on the Word prepared by our pastor. I ate well this morning. Now, stop the criticism.”

The doorbell chimes.

“That,” explains the Father to the long table filled with family, “will be pastor and his wife. I invited them to enjoy supper with us today.”

The church as a whole is addressed as the Apostle Paul directs their common behavior as members of the local assembly of believers. He zeroes in on the attitude that these Christians are to have toward their pastor or elders. Their disposition has nothing to do with their preferences, how the pastor lives his life or style of presentation and certainly not how one pastor compares to another.

Paul identifies one description for the pastor, he works hard. Not all do but the assumption is clear. This is expected of a man who is a shepherd. Taking that at face value, there is to be a respect that members of the church are to give to him. That is a simple instruction that has no qualifications to it
Over the generations that have filled up the church, not all who claim to follow Christ can confidently claim to have done this. Criticism, gossip, slander are not consistent with demonstrated respect. Yes, it is dangerous to mistreat God’s called servants.

God has given a pastor spiritual oversight in the lives of their church members. Bucking God-given authority is not just offensive to the pastor but to the God who authorized that leadership responsibility. Sometimes a pastor even makes church members uncomfortable with righteous admonition. God wants them to do that and members must realize that this is from God.

Church members have a decision to make. It is a matter of volition, not feeling. Are you a follower of Christ? Then, with regard to your pastor you must also decide.

Make the decision to hold your pastor in the highest regard. Do so because you want to love the pastor that God has put into your life. Their work that benefits you is difficult enough as it is. When difficulty people add to the task of pastoring, God is not pleased.

However, when a Christian chooses to live a life of love, then, this choice to honor their pastor comes naturally. A further outcome is the pursuit of peace. No matter how different people might be, strange or odd, deciding to live at peace with them is God’s way.

People can get a burr under their saddle. They get offended, something bugs them, a small statement gets blown out of proportion, they feel rejected, disrespected, overlooked or they experience unhappiness and take it out on the pastor. These are all too common and are too easily dismissed and become self-justified.

There are basics practices for all Christians. These descriptions should be indicative of their lives if they claim to follow Jesus. Not only should they highly respect their pastor but they should be industrious with their lives.

Anyone who is a Christian should not be wasting time. They should be busy about the purpose that God has assigned to them. If they are not, then someone else should warn them.

If believers are timid, then they should be encouraged. If they are unable to do what they must because they are weak, then others should lend a helping hand. All of us should be patient with each other.

Revenge is always wrong. Getting even because someone else has disrespected or hurt us is not an option. Instead, kindness is our universal reaction to how others treat us. Others should sense our consistent behavior of graciousness to them no matter how they treat us.

All of us who have been pastors have many stories that we can tell are clear violations of this passage of Scripture. We know what it is like to have the scoffers in the congregation rolling their, sitting with defiant arms crossed during the sermon, shaking their heads like wagging critics, muttering vile criticism just loud enough for others to hear but not clear enough to be politely challenged. If they are they deny what they have said or laugh it off dismissively.

These trouble makers are in so many churches. They gossip under the guise of expressing deep concern or sharing prayer requests. If they slander it is a prophetic word of warning. Those who divide are not peacemakers but self-righteous renegades. They hurt but do not see the pain that they cause.

A church should feature people who are not easily offended. Instead, they reach out and help, encourage and exercise patience with each other. We who have been eternally forgiven should be as quick to forgive others.

Be an encourager and a helper to others. You cannot go wrong if you have a lifelong reputation of being a blessing to others no matter how you are treated. God has a simple plan for us believers: treat others well.

LAPP (Life Application): Choose love in Jesus name. This decision will inoculate you from the easy path of criticism of your pastor and mistreatment of others. Cause no harm is a good value to practice in our lifetime. Reach out and help. There is never a shortage of people who need a blessing from someone today.

Thanks for joining me on this journey of living the Scriptures.

 

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