1. RESPECT / HOLD IN HIGHEST REGARD / LIVE IN PEACE
1 Thess 5:12.13 “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other”.
Vs 12 - respect - To hold with favour/give due recognition.
- work hard among you - Paul implies that the work of a pastor / elder / church leader is hard work.
- over you in the lord – The work of church leaders include ruling, overseeing and watching over the flock (shepherding them).
- who admonish you – Leaders have to counsel the flock (admonish – to warn / caution / reprove gently)
Vs 13 - Hold them in the highest regard in love - Not for their high position but in
appreciation for their work [Note: An elder or pastor is also a brother (see Matt 23:8-12) but has to be held in the highest regard because of the awesome responsibility associated with the office to which God has called him]. Pastors, Elders and other leaders have to teach, preach, visit the sheep, administer, pray for the sick, encourage, restore, bring reconciliation, overseer, shepherd etc..
- live in peace with each other - Right relationships between leaders and those
who are under them are encouraged.
2. REMEMBER \ CONSIDER \ IMITATE.
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
2.1) Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you - recall the blessings
that have come to you under the ministry of the leaders. “Remember the hand that feeds you.” Don’t turn against the leaders when you disagree with them with regard to some plan or programme. Don’t criticize, ridicule or reject them. It is said that dogs are sometimes better than people at “remembering the hand that feeds you.” (oops !).
2.2) Consider the outcome of their way of life - Look back on the outcome of their way of life and the good that it has done for your own life.
2.3) imitate their faith - 1 Cor 4:15-17 (Paul’s example): “… I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
3 John 11 “Do not imitate what is evil but
what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
(See 3 Jn 9-12: THE EVIL EXAMPLE OF DIOTREPHUS).
(What the leaders are, the people will also be).
3. OBEY / SUBMIT / PRAY
Hebrews 13:17,18 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us.”
3.1) Obey your leaders
(i) The church is a THEOCRACY, which means that the government of God prevails i.e. the elders rule under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church is not a democracy where everyone has a say in how the church is to be governed. The pastors (who are normally also ordained elders) and the other elders form the Governing Body at Cornerstone. This is the highest ruling body at Cornerstone, and is, we believe, in line with God’s Word. We must obey the leadership who has been ordained by God. If the leadership does not exercise the ministry to which God has called them, i.e. to rule (amongst other things), we will have “every man doing that which is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
(ii) Congregation members must take heed to the counsel given by the leaders because “they keep watch over you as men who must give an account”. (3 John vs 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” The greatest sorrow of any Christian leader must be to see those whom he leads growing further away from God.)
3.2) submit to their authority - SUBMISSION IS OBEDIENCE. Dictatorial leadership
(as in the case of Diotrephus above) is not condoned by this command but respect for authority, orderliness and discipline in the church are taught throughout the New Testament. (Don’t think yourself too wise to take counsel from the elders).
3.3) they keep watch over you as men who must give an account – Each believer has the responsibility to strengthen other believers. This is especially true of those who shepherd the flock.
3.4) a joy and not a burden - A joyful elder will be of benefit to God’s people. (cf vs.17 “..no advantage to you”)
3.5) “Pray for us” (i) “This is one part of the duty which people owe to their ministers. Ministers need the prayers of their people; and the more earnestly the people pray for their ministers, the more benefit they may expect to reap from their ministry.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).