Summary: What are the essentials for a happy, thriving church family? How can we make our church more spiritual to the glory of God?
It’s a Family Matter
Paul’s favorite name for believers was brethren. He used it at least 60 times in his letters’ and in the two Thessalonian Epistles, he used it 27 times. Paul saw the local church as a family. Each member was born again by the spirit of god and possessed God’s nature. They all were a part of God’s family.
It is tragic when believers neglect or ignore the local church. No family is perfect and no local church is perfect; but without a family to protect him and provide for him, a child would suffer and die. The child of God needs the church family if they are going to grow, develop their gifts, and serve God.
What are the essentials for a happy, thriving church family? How can we make our church more spiritual to the glory of God? Paul discusses these matters in these verses before us tonight. Let’s read them together.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; prayer without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do no quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us! Greet al the brethren with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
I. Family Leadership (vv. 12-13)
• Without leadership, a family falls apart.
• The father is the head of the home; the mother stands with him in love and cooperation.
• The children are to obey their parents.
• This is the order God has laid down, and for us to disturb this order is to ask for serious trouble.
• God has ordained leadership for the local church.
• It is true that we are “all one in Christ Jesus” Amen, but it is also true that the Head of the church has given gifts to people, and then given these people to the churches to exercise His will.
• Just as the flock needs a shepherd, so the family needs a leader (i.e., Pastors, Deacons, Sunday school teachers, and so on.)
• What responsibilities do the brethren have toward their spiritual leaders?
1. Accept them.
• They are God’s gifts to the church.
• They have spiritual authority form the Lord and we should accept them in the Lord.
• They are not dictators, but leaders.
• As they follow the Lord, we must follow them.
2. Appreciate them.
• That is the meaning of the phrase “know them who labor among you” (v. 12)
• There is nothing wrong with honoring faithful servants of God, so long as God gets the glory.
• Spiritual leadership is a great responsibility and a difficult task.
• It is not easy to serve as a pastor, deacon, or other spiritual leader.
• It is dangerous when a church family takes its leaders for granted and fails to pray for them, and encourage them.
3. Love them.
• As brothers, the leaders are “among us;” and as leaders, they are “over us in the Lord.”
• This could be a very strained relationship apart from true Christian love.
• For a pastor to be “among” and “over” at the same time demands grace and power of the Spirit.
• Some church members want their pastor to be a buddy, but this weakens his authority.
• On the other hand, if he emphasizes only his authority, he could become a dictator.
4. Obey them.
• When God’s servant, led by God’s Spirit, calls us to obey God’s Word, then we must obey.
• This does not mean that every spiritual leader is always right in everything.
• A wise pastor knows when he had made a mistake and admits when he is wrong.
• But in spite of their limitations, God’s spiritual leaders should be respected and obeyed – unless it is obvious that they are out of God’s will.