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Worthy of Double Honor
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 5:17)
I read recently that Alexander the Great, wherever he went, when he came to a field, would instinctively begin in his mind to lay it out as a battlefield, determining where he could best set his military forces, were it necessary for him to engage an enemy on that field. Alexander the Great was a warrior. It was as natural to him to think in terms of military strategy as it was for him to breathe.
Preachers ought to be like that with regard to preaching. If we are preachers, if the God of heaven has called us to this great work of preaching the gospel, we should strive to make preaching as much a part of our lives as breathing. We should discipline our minds to focus on preaching all the time, making everything God puts in our day serve as a tool with which we prepare to preach.
But let no man imagine that he can preach the gospel, that he can speak for God, that he can faithfully expound Holy Scripture without work. The preacher’s work is study. Study and pray! Pray and study! If a man is not willing to spend his life in his study, laboring in the Word and in the doctrine of God, he should go do some lesser work, something less meaningful and less demanding. This work requires, demands, and deserves our lives! Everything must be sacrificed for it. Everything must be made subservient to it. — Preparation without inspiration will give meat with no savor. Our hearts must have inspiration. But that which many vainly imagine is inspiration, without preparation, serves for meat an empty plate covered with glitter. — If we would preach we must prepare. And preparation requires study and prayer, study and prayer, relentless study and prayer.
Preaching is not talking to give out the light, frivolous imaginations of our minds. Preaching is proclaiming God’s truth with sound judgment, truth fixed in our hearts by God the Holy Spirit by diligent labor in study and earnest prayer, to the profit of God’s people. If we would preach, we must labor in the Word and in the doctrine.
Those who labor in the Word and doctrine are worthy of “double honor.” The word “honor” in 1 Timothy 5:17 means “pay.” God the Holy Spirit plainly asserts that God’s faithful servants are worthy of double the pay of any other man, no matter what that man’s labor is, it is less noble and less meaningful than the work of the man who faithfully preaches the gospel. A faithful gospel preacher does not want it, does not seek it, and does not need it, but he is worthy of double pay; and God’s church needs to be reminded of it. And those who labor in the Word and doctrine of Christ deserve and shall have the love and high esteem of God’s people for whom they devote their lives to the labor of the gospel (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).