I Thessalonians 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Paul’s final words in this book to the saints were also designed to encourage them to honour God in their lives. He began with the word “beseech”. That word here has the meaning of “urging”. The saints need to know those who labour among them. It is not possible to know those who labour among you unless you follow them. Again, we are not talking about a cult-like following. God does not even tell us to blindly follow Him. He presents Himself as the all-wise, all-powerful, everywhere-present God. He demonstrates His love and care for all of His creation from the beginning. He also demonstrates His holiness and righteousness and justice. God expects, in fact demands that man know Him, but He makes it very clear that He alone is worthy of all honour and glory.
Those who labour among us are not equal to God. They will fail us at times. However, where they fail us they will also be exposed for that. We can examine them through God’s Word. The apostle Paul reminds us that it requires labour to serve the Lord. I am told there are some preachers who serf the net and find a “sermon” they like and they more or less copy that down and use that as their message. They rob themselves of God’s blessings and they also rob the people of God’s blessings. God wants everyone of His labourers to study the Word of God. We can consult good commentaries but they need to be examined in the light of God’s Word. Commentaries are all written by people. People can be wrong. Paul is not telling us to blindly follow those who labour among us. He tells us to know them. That word “know” means “to perceive with the eye and with the senses.”
We have neighbours living around us. We know their names, and have had occasion to talk with them. We know some things about them. We know they are lost individuals. We know they are not interested in God’s truth. We know some of them want to be friendly and others would just as soon not talk to us. In order for us to know that, we have to observe what is going on. We do not spend our days spying on them. However, over the years we have had opportunity to observe what they are like. They have had that same opportunity to observe us. However, everything we know about each other is rather superficial. It is all peripheral stuff.
I think that I know my wife fairly well. We have been married now for 48 years and that has given us some time to get to know one another. We can kind of know what our favourite foods are and what some of our likes and dislikes are. We get to know one another because we spend a fair amount of time with each other and we talk to one another. We also have an interest in one another. There is also a love for one another that underlies all of what we do. That love is the love of God. It is true that there is also a “brotherly love” involved in a particular way between us because we are husband and wife.
God gives His children His love so that we can know one another and pray for one another and help one another in our walk with the Lord. That “agape´” love is a special love that God gives to His children. We need to take the time to know one another in order to be able to love one another properly.
We have mentioned before how our government and others have tried to interfere with God’s command to know those who labour among us. We cannot expect anything better from the lost. What is concerning is how many professing Christians have chosen to follow the ungodly dictates of the lost rather than follow the godly commands of the God Who loves us and provides for us.
Paul defines those he is directed to speak of here with the words: “and are over you in the Lord”. He is referring in particular to the pastor(s) and teachers of the local church.
Pastors are the local shepherd and overseers of the local church. They are called to labour among the people in a particular area on a regular basis. They have a very important role to fulfil in helping the people of that area to know the true God and to serve Him faithfully. God calls on the saved in the local church to take the time to know the local pastor.
The word “admonish” here has the meaning of “exhorting”. God has an order to things. The local church is under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under that headship, He has appointed the pastor/teacher. That is a necessary and important office that God has designed for the people. The man who fills that office in a local church is just a man. However, he must be a born again Christian who is not a novice and who has learned the importance of walking in the fear of the Lord. He will not be infallible. He must be genuinely humble. He must be a student of God’s Word and able to instruct others in the things of the Lord. The saints in the local church will get to know this about God’s man as they spend time under his teaching and preaching and as they spend time with him.
In verse 13 we see that God commands that the saints esteem this person very highly in love for their work’s sake. Thus we see further that this man needs to demonstrate his call from the Lord by the fruit he produces. He is designed by God to be a blessing to the saints. He is to be respected for the labour he conducts.
There is always a need for godly men who will submit to God’s call to be pastors. There is a shortage of godly local church pastors in this country. There are lost people who think there are too many churches around. If you look at a listing of churches in various communities, you might find quite a few on the list. Most people never go beyond seeing that list. A few will do some research and will ask God to guide them to a true church. Most never go that far. Some want a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.
God is directing the apostle Paul to speak to those who are saved and who are being led by the Holy Spirit. Those people need to be at peace among themselves. The true local church should be a testimony to the love and grace of God. There is no room for the schisms that Paul wrote of in I Corinthians. There needs to be a genuine love and care for one another. The local pastor is called upon to teach the whole counsel of God which will help to build this genuine love and care within that assembly. It is a great blessing to know God’s peace in your heart. It is a great blessing to be able to rest in the Lord. That is a blessing that God wants all to have, but it is only attainable for those who know Him first of all.
God strongly encourages all true saints to be a part of a local church. On this first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, I would encourage the saints who receive this devotional to go to a true local church where you can be blessed by the true Word of God.