Passage for this Morning. Please open your bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15.
12 Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.”13 Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.
14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
The church is the most blessed institution on Earth, the only one built by the Lord Jesus Himself, the only one built for Eternity and the only one that Hell will never overpower. Paul describes the church as the pillar and support of the truth.(1 Tim 3:15) Yet it often is stuck in difficulties. Because all of us redeemed sinners in the church are still battling fallen flesh. The church constantly faces challenges and deals with consistent sin problems.
Only if we recognize our weaknesses, imperfections and difficulties caused by sin does Christ’s church begin and continue to grow spiritually. As it grows spiritually it has a tendency to grow numerically. Not only does the church face struggles from sin issues, it is also attack constantly by Satan, his demons and the humans that he has on his team.
Nevertheless we have supernatural resources to fight these trials and struggles. We have the Holy Spirit energizing the church, the Word of God instructing the church, and its spiritually gifted people edifying each other and building each other up. Just as we read at the end of last week in 1 Thess 5:11.
We know the Thesslonica church wants to be successful, holy, God honoring church. Many times in this letter the Apostle Paul has commended their church, indicating that they were headed in the right direction. So Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 a series of direct exhortations to the Thessalonians to continue in their growth and perseverance. In verses 12 and 13 Paul gives directives for the relationship between shepherds and sheep and in 14 an 15, He gives directions for the relationship between the CHURCH and those who are SPIRITUALLY NEEDY. I believe these exhortations could have a great Impact on Impact. So let’s take a look at 3 relationships that if healthy, will build a healthy church.
PART I – Shepherd’s Responsibilities to their Sheep
“Dear brothers and sisters…your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.” (5:12)
“your leaders in the Lord’s work.” (5:12b)
Literally means “to stand before”
Authoritative presiding over, leading and directing
Setting a positive spiritual tone
Bringing about unity in the church
Relating well with people
Helping people cope with Life
Find Biblical solutions to Problems
“They work hard among you,” (5:12c)
Pastor’s exhibit effort and exertion caring for the Sheep
Teaches the Word (2 Tim 4:5)
Explains/Applies the Truth (1 Tim 3:2)
Warns/Admonishes People (Rom 15:14)
Counsel’s from Scripture (2 Tim 3:16, 4:4)
“and give you spiritual guidance.” (5:12d)
Admonish, Instruct with purpose of change/correction.
Teach to Change lives.
PART II – Sheep’s Responsibility to their Shepherds
“Honor those…Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.” (5:12a, 13)
Show Appreciation – “…honor those” (5:12a)
Know your Shepherds
Respectfully value their Service
Caring Appreciation for your Pastors
“Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work.” (5:13a)
Respect – esteem or regard, appreciation.
Love – agape, sacrificially serve, speak well of, encourage.
“And live peacefully with each other.” (5:13b)
Seek to eliminate conflict, strife, and discord
“Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
PART III – Church’s Responsibility to the Spiritually Needy
14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
Dealing with the Wayward Sheep
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy.”(5:14a)
Urge, parakale?, lit. come along side, admonish, exhort. And parakl?tos is the name used for the Holy Spirit who comes along side and helps.
Idea is to help those who don’t perform their duties or fulfill their roles. They are too lazy.
Dealing with the Worried Sheep
“Encourage those who are timid.” (5:14b)
Worried about life and all that it entails.
Encourage, come along side to: comfort, consult, give confidence.
Dealing with the Weak Sheep
“Take tender care of those who are weak.” (5:14c)
Fragile in faith, struggles with doubts. Unable to enjoy freedom in Christ. Susceptible to sin.
Take Care of them, antech?, hold firmly, cling to, support…
Stronger sheep need to come alongside the weaker sheep.
Dealing with the Wearisome Sheep
“Be patient with everyone.” (5:14d)
Be long suffering with those who Struggle .
Slow growth and slow moving sheep can be hard work.
Bondless, forgiveness and loving patience is needed.
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22
Matthew 18 is the chapter where Jesus talks about correcting another believer. I think he is saying we need to admonish and exhort other Christ followers, but we need to do it with patience.
Dealing with the Wicked Sheep
“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.” (5:15)
Sheep are definitely able to harm other Sheep. Sinning against them in a variety of ways, such as attacking them with wicked words (Matthew 5:22, James 3:1-21) that include gossip and slander, excluding them from opportunities and ministry, harming there marriages or influencing someone toward sinful behavior. (Matthew 18:1-12).
Don’t pay them back for what they have Done.
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.” Romans 12:19
Do that which is of God, pursue what is good and noble.
Paul wanted the Thessalonians to Respond to acts of Hostility with acts of Love.
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10
So a healthy church is characterized by growth in faith, love and purity, and a progress toward a likeness of Christ. But spiritually needy and problem sheep within the church can and do impeded its growth. That means the healthy sheep must lovingly, patiently, but truthfully deal with the difficult sheep to remove sinful impediments to ensure real growth.
The key is not finding clever strategy to bypass the troubles, but addressing the issues directly, as shepherd and sheep alike admonish the wayward, encourage the worried, uphold the weak, bear with the wearisome and render goodness to the wicked.
Remember all who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior have a ministry to fulfill a ministry. As we move into our ministry we need to live at the words from Paul today. We need to be Christ Followers who help grow a healthy and God honoring church.