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. – 1Thess. 5:12-13 NIV
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Today’s Devotional is a sequel to the Devotional titled “Live To Please Him”, where the Apostle Paul listed some activities that will help the believer live a life that will be pleasing to Jehovah. This was part of the conclusion of his first letter to the brethren in Thessalonica and after he had also used the opportunity to provide teaching on how to react to souls that have departed this earth (1Thess. 4:13-18), he gave a set of Instructions to round up his letter. Today’s Devotional is the first of these Instructions. Though they were directed at the brethren in Thessalonica, the instructions remain ever green and relevant to all Christians then and now, and will always help Christians live a lifestyle that will be pleasant to Jehovah, individually and collectively.
He advised that three groups of people deserve to be respected, be held in high regard and be loved by all (1Thess. 5:12-13a), and these are as follows;
- Those who are hardworking in the Church – 1Thess. 4:12a. Of course, it will be in reference to those who take physical steps that enhance the growth of the Church of Christ on earth, in all ramifications. In fact, the Apostle Paul in his advise for Timothy had recommended that such group of people are deserving of double honours – 1Tim. 5:17.
- Those who are leaders in the Church – 1Thess. 4:12d. These are majorly people who preside over the administration of the various arms of the Church. They occupy these positions on behalf of God and they are able to do so because Jehovah Himself allowed it. Men may think that they did the appointment but in reality, it happened because Jehovah wanted it to be so – Rom. 13:1-2. They may occupy positions and become negative like King Saul, but they could not have assumed such positions without His approval – 1Sam. 8:1-9-27.
- Those who are saddled with the responsibility to admonish others – 1Thess. 4:12c. To admonish is to warn or reprimand someone firmly and is basically a role that Jehovah has assigned to some people especially those He has called into the Teaching Ministry – Heb. 12:2-11. It is definitely not an act that sits well with the recipient when it is being dispensed, just as the one who is admonishing another should not do so because of the joy of inflicting pain or humiliation on others. The aim of admonishing is to use the Word of God to bring people back to God in love, just as the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy – 2Tim. 3:16-17.
The Apostle Paul advises that these three groups of people must not just be respected, but should also be held in the highest regard in love, because of the work they do amongst the brethren.
To hold one in high regards is an idiomatic expression, which in this situation will mean to accord such people the highest form of recognition that is available in such a group. There is no argument about the fact that the highest personality in any Christian group is Jehovah and so it will be safe to assume that the Apostle Paul wants Christians who desire to live a life pleasing to Jehovah to accord these group of visible people the level of respect that will be accorded to the unseen Jehovah. This is not to say that they are gods or should ever be equated to Jehovah, but the fact that they carry Jehovah’s authority entitles them to the respect that Jehovah deserves.
That many in the church today do not consider church leaders worthy of respect is very glaring as their conduct indicates. Leaders are openly chastised and sometimes humiliated because members have associated them with some acts that may be obviously not worthy of the position they occupy, but that may not be sufficient to justify such actions. The decision of David not to harm King Saul should be sufficient to guide the Christian in such situations – 1Sam. 24:1-13; 26:1-25. It should be made clear that the Christian leader may be leading the people but such is answerable to Jehovah, who it is that appoints leaders over His Church – Rom. 13:1. He only it is, that will judge His workers (Rom. 14:4), and any act of disrespect to them is actually to Jehovah, who it is, that Called them into His service – 1Sam. 8:7. No one involved in the act of disrespect to such people can ever live a life that is pleasing to Jehovah.
Christians must realise that all may be equal in terms of being Called but all are not equal with regards to the responsibility and expectations of Jehovah from their Call – Rom. 12:3. There is indeed a measure given to each one according to Grace and all will be expected to dispense the Grace accordingly as much more will be expected from the one whom much was given – Lk. 12:48. More so, Jehovah has glorified some Callings more than others and it will be expected that those who claim to serve Him will accept such ratings and respect His decision in that regard. It took the experience of anger of the Lord by Aaron and Miriam, for them to appreciate the important fact that indeed, all are called but each Call has an attached Glory which must be acknowledged and respected by all – Num. 12:1-15.
If indeed you are a child of Jehovah and you serve Him, then you will respect His decision by acknowledging amongst others, the above identified groups of people and accord them their deserved respect. By doing that, you will surely be on the path to living a life that is pleasing to Him, and not that of those godless people who are not afraid to pronounce negative words against the people of God – 2Pet. 2:10-22. May God grant us the wisdom to respect his revered servants in Jesus name. Amen.