1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ESV
“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.”
When Paul taught here that we are to respect those who labor among those of us who are Christians, who are over us in the Lord, and who admonish us, he was not speaking of every man who calls himself “pastor.” For he also taught us to not believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see if they be of God, and he warned us against false teachers and flim-flam artists (not his phrase) and against those who use trickery and deception and who teach what is false, to not have any part with them.
Many professing Christians are being led astray because they are being convinced that biblically they must submit to any man who calls himself a pastor, but that is not true. If he is not a man of God, and if he does not meet the biblical requirements for overseer, and if what he is teaching is false, we are not to put up with it easily enough. We are to come out and be separate from among such gatherings as are being led by these charlatans who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. We are to run away from them.
[Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 24:11-14; John 10:1-15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-10; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:1-25; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; John 2:13-17; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Romans 12:1-2; Revelation 18:1-5]
So the ones we are to respect and esteem are those who meet the biblical requirements for overseer, and who are leading their flocks by example, and who are teaching the truth of the gospel, and who are loving their people, and who are leading them to follow Jesus Christ in holiness and in righteousness and in walks of obedience to the Lord, and who are nurturing them in the Lord to maturity in Jesus Christ. And just because they call it “church” doesn’t make it the church, the body of Christ, led by Christ.
But if we are in a congregation of the saints of God where a godly man is leading us to follow Jesus in obedience and in walks of holiness, and who is leading us by example in how to live the Christian life, then we should honor that man, and we should show him respect, and we should esteem him and give him our support. But sadly, at least here in America, such men as these are scarce, as far as I have been able to ascertain. So many of them today are not following the Lord, and they are not teaching the truth of the gospel, but they are following men and marketing schemes and are teaching lies.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 ESV
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
As members of the body of Christ, the church, which is membership via our faith in Jesus Christ, we are to encourage (exhort, urge, provoke) one another to walk in holiness and in righteousness and not in sin and to walk in obedience to our Lord. And we are to speak the truth in love, one to the other, so that we are not led astray by men in their cunning and craftiness and deceitful scheming. And we are to exhort one another daily so we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness and so we do what is right.
[Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Jn 4:31-38; Jn 13:13-17; Jn 14:12; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:14-18; Acts 26:18; Rom 10:14-15; Rom 12:1-8; Rom 15:14; 1 Co 12:1-31; 1 Co 14:1-5; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Php 2:1-8; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:23-25; 1 Pet 2:9,21; 1 Jn 2:6]
We are not to be those who ignore sin or who placate sin or who refuse to exhort one another out of fear of being hated and rejected in return. We are to care enough about one another to speak the truth in love, one to the other, and to encourage each other to not walk in sin but to walk in holiness and in righteousness. And so we should speak the words of the Scriptures, one to the other, and we should encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak. But patience does not equal tolerance of sin or placating sin. Unrepentant sin should be dealt with biblically within the body of Christ.
For we are to see to it that no one repays anyone evil for evil. Now, if we are not in a position of biblical authority over anyone, we have no way of enforcing this, and as women, we are not to be in positions of rule and authority over men. And we should not be talking privately with men to whom we are not married, either, unless they are family. But as the body of Christ gathers together daily to encourage one another, we can encourage one another to not get even with people who have done us wrong, or who we think have done us wrong, but we can encourage forgiveness, instead.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 ESV
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
Now, this is not asking us to rejoice over what is evil, but it is encouraging us to rejoice in the Lord no matter what is going on in our lives. And to pray without ceasing doesn’t mean we spend all day and all night on our knees in a formal act of prayer. It just means we have open communication between us and our Lord to where he can speak to us at any time and we can speak to him at any time regardless of what time of day it is or what else is going on all around us. We are continually in an attitude of prayer, and we are continually speaking with our Lord throughout the day.
And we should also keep an attitude of thanksgiving regardless of our surroundings and all that is going on in our lives and in our world. For there is always something we can thank the Lord for even when our world is falling apart all around us. For our Lord has done so much for us in saving us from our lives of sin and in giving us new lives in him to be lived for his glory, and for the strength he provides for us to resist evil and to do what is good and righteous and holy.
Now, when this says that we are not to despise prophecies, it is not telling us that we should entertain all of them, either. Now prophecies are not necessarily future telling, for the New Testament Scriptures spoke of the gift of prophecy more as in the sense of the proclamation of the word of God given to the people as was to be applied specifically to their lives and circumstances in ways of biblical instruction and encouraging one another in our walks of faith. We are not to despise these, but we are to test them against the Scriptures to make sure what is being taught is biblical.
But many professing Christians today are refusing the gifts of the Spirit, and in so doing they are potentially quenching the Spirit, too, who has given the body of Christ specific gifts of the Spirit to be used to encourage one another in our walks of faith. So, again, we are to test everything and everyone against the teachings of the Scriptures, as a whole, but in context. And then we are to hold fast to what is good, and we are to abstain from every form of evil. Amen!
By Ann Aschauer
Children of the Kingdom, you are called by God to shine His light,
In the day of small beginnings, trust in Him, trust in Him.
On this firm foundation build your lives to bring Him glory;
People need Him in a world where hope is dim.
So shine on through the darkness;
Be the salt and light for all your world.
Live for Jesus, ’til you see Him,
And your faith has its reward;
Shine on through the darkness;
Let His love shine through you all your days.
Go and win your generation for the Lord.
c 1990 Ann Aschauer