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A daily devotion for March 17th

Those Who Labor Among You

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Paul intended that this word should govern the behavior of believers in the congregation. There are three things that church members must do regarding their leaders: First, they are to acknowledge them. The word really is, know them. Recognize them. Be aware of them. Do not take them for granted. I know churches where pastors are treated as hired servants, there to respond to the whims of the church board or the congregation's vote. They are treated with little or no respect and at times severely mistreated. Paul is saying, Get to know your leaders. Understand that they are people and do not ignore them.

Second, Hold them in the highest regard in love. Value them. Understand that though they may have personal idiosyncrasies that are hard to handle on occasion (we all have those), recognize that their work is important and they should be highly esteemed for that reason. To hold them in high regard is not only to regard leaders as valuable, but also to express this in a practical manner. This is why Paul wrote to Timothy, If an elder rules well [actually leads well], he is worthy of double honor(1 Timothy 5:17). The apostle meant that the leader should be paid twice as much salary!

Third, says the apostle, Live in peace with each other. In context, this is related to his instructions on how to treat church leaders. It suggests a deliberate refusal to create factions over individual church leaders. Do not group around one person at the expense of others in leadership. Do not play favorites and attack others. In 1 Timothy, Paul admonishes that no one may bring an accusation against an elder except on the word of two or three witnesses. There has to be a careful, considered approach to the problem.

The reason is that leaders have been appointed by the Lord, regardless of the human process by which they were chosen. This does not mean that in the course of events they will not go someplace else. It means that when they are in leadership, they are to be regarded as the Lord's men and women. He has sent them among us. Not only that, they admonish you. The word is literally, to put in mind. They instruct and inspire you, reminding you of truth that is easily forgotten in these days. The only voice speaking powerfully against the spirit of the age, the self-centered, self-sufficient, restless spirit of this generation, is the voice of the church. We need to be reminded continually of the danger in that kind of philosophy. This is done by the leadership who instruct, warn, and point out folly. They help us to keep our feet on the right path. Lastly, says Paul, they work hard among you. They spend hours toiling in difficult and sometimes demeaning work. Contrary to what some people think, it is not true that pastors work only one day a week! The ministry is a very demanding job.

Thank you, Jesus, for the your Body, the church, and thank you for the leaders you have placed in my life to teach and admonish me. I ask that you would bless, protect and provide for them.

Life Application

How can you "acknowledge" a leader in your life this week? Take some time to do that.

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

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