God’s Servants To Be Highly Esteemed

I Thessalonians 5:12-13

            God’s saints highly esteem and give honor to those men who faithfully labor in the Word and preach the gospel to them. And that is as it ought to be (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15; I Tim. 5:17). Only those preachers who faithfully preach the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ are worthy of this high esteem. All heretical work-mongers and promoters of will-worship are to be held in utter contempt (Gal. 1:6-8). But God’s servants are to be honored. This honor is to be extended, beyond the local church and beyond one’s own pastor, to all who faithfully preach the gospel: pastors, elders, missionaries, evangelists, etc. In I Thessalonians 5:12-13, the Holy Spirit shows us three things about God’s servants and the honor they are to be given.

            THE PASTOR’S WORK is set before us as involving three things. Faithful pastors are men who “labor among you.” The work of the ministry involves labor. I readily grant that many self-serving men use the pastoral office only to please themselves; and therefore may lazily go about their pastoral duties, doing only what is required of them. God’s servants labor in the Word and in doctrine. They study diligently, pray earnestly, and preach with urgency, using every gift and opportunity God bestows upon them for the furtherance of the gospel, the glory of Christ, and the benefit of his people (I Tim. 4:12-16).

They are “over you in the Lord.” Pastors are not bullish tyrants; but they are the spiritual rulers of God’s house, in exactly the same sense that a man is the ruler of his house in the Lord (I Tim. 3:4-5; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7, 17). As such they must take the oversight of the flock, ruling in the name of God, by the Word of God (I Pet. 5:1-3).

As overseers in the family of God, God’s servants faithfully “admonish you,” teaching you the Word of God, the will of God, and the ways of God. They teach you what to believe and how to live for the glory of God.

            THE BELIEVER’S RESPONSIBILITY to his pastor is also set before us as a threefold thing. “Know them which labor among you.” Make yourself acquainted with God’s servants. Seek to understand their labors and burdens. Find out what they need. And learn how best to assist them in their work.

“Esteem them very highly.” This high esteem is not esteem given to the man because he is intelligent, an unusually gifted preacher, or a well-liked man, but for his “work’s sake,” because he is God’s faithful servant. As such, he is a man worthy of your honor, worthy of financial support, and worthy of respectful, honorable terms when you talk about him.

This high esteem is to be given “in love.” Let every child of God see that he loves and promotes love for his pastor.

            THE RESULT OF THIS HIGH ESTEEM of believers for God’s servants is peace. In the churches of Christ, you will “be at peace among yourselves” in proportion to your love for and high esteem of God’s servants.

Don Fortner