February 9, 2017

Respecting leaders

In earlier days of going to church, people sometimes ‘joked’ that after the service they were going home to a meal of ‘roast pastor.’ In light of what God says, that is not at all funny . . .

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13)

Noting the bottom line regarding peace, this week our ladies Bible study group listened to a speaker who explained the importance of peace in our war against the evil one and sin. One of Satan’s tools to make our lives ineffective and joyless is to stir up trouble that ruins the peace of God. If this enemy can produce disharmony, and strife, that will do it. Peace is gone and we are down for the count. From the above verse, hitting us with a lack of respect for our spiritual leaders is one of those producers of disunity and strife.

The writer of Hebrews also admonishes God’s people in this vital area of Christian life . . .

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith . . . Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.” (Hebrews 13:7–19)

The Bible is clear; instead of roasting the pastor when his sermon is not what I want or expect, I’m to pray for him realizing that anything else is very likely a tool of the devil to stir up strife.

The devotional reading for today points out that our sinful human tendency is either to treat God’s servants with contempt like some did with Paul in Galatia (Galatians 4:16), or to regard them with an adoring, worshipful reverence, as Cornelius did with Peter (Acts 10:25). Both attitudes are wrong.

The faithful gospel preacher is only a human being, not pedestal material to worship and follow blindly. At the same time, he is God’s messenger. He needs to speak the truth in love, but also must not be despised, ignored or treated with contempt.

These verses make plain that as well as respecting my leaders, I’m also know them. The deeper I know each one, the more I will understand their needs and burdens. That makes prayer in God’s will much easier. Prayer for others also solves the problem of being always on their backs and puts me on their team. We must  work together for the sake of the Gospel. 

Jesus, You are increasingly showing me the bigger picture of how Satan works. I can see how he promotes extreme attitudes because they often produce strife. Our effectiveness as God’s people is spoiled when we are at odds with one another. You tell us to have peace among ourselves, so my prayer is that You will deepen my ability to be a peacemaker. Also, enable me to pray more effectively for my church leaders.

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