Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to Honor Your Pastor

John MacArthur shares these insights from the Word of God in his sermon "The Sheep's Responsibility."

 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thess. 5:12-13)

"These two verses discuss how the sheep are to treat the shepherd, how the shepherds are to treat the sheep within the framework of Christian fellowship in the church. Last week you'll remember we talked about the responsibility of the shepherds to the sheep, how shepherds are to care for their sheep. That, of course, was a message close to my own heart as a shepherd who has sheep and a responsibility before God to do that kind of care. Also was a message reflecting all of our pastors and elders at Grace Church. . . .

Now here [in 1 Timothy 5:17-18] are elders ruling and they are worthy men. Their worthiness calls for double honor, time. Now what does that mean? Well it can mean respect. It can mean high regard. But the context here shows it includes pay. He is just in prior verses, verses 3 to 16, discussed the support of widows, now he discusses the support of ministers, pastors. And he is saying if they rule well they are worthy of double time. By the way, on a number of occasions in the New Testament, Matthew 27:6 and 9, 1 Corinthians 6:20, the word time is associated with money. And so he is saying give them respect and remuneration and make it double, double honor, double respect and generous pay. Why? Because you are rewarding the well ruling elders, those that are diligent, faithful elders.

They are worthy, they deserve it.

And by the way, as a footnote, there is nobody better to be trusted than a godly man with the resources you give him. In whose hands could you better put that than a godly man who would use it to the glory of the Lord?

And at the end of the verse, "Especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." Those who work hard in the Word, trust them with God's money. Reward them. Show your honor to them in a tangible way.

So, there's kind of a flow here. Elders are worthy of honor. Elders are worthy of honor with remuneration...hard working excellent elders are worthy of double honor. Hard working and excellent elders who major in preaching and teaching are particularly worthy of respect and remuneration. So every faithful shepherd is to be appreciated, respected, admired, honored and supported.

There's a very simple direct verse that states this. Back in 1 Corinthians 9 and we'll move quickly through the next two points, but back in 1 Corinthians 9, I won't take the time to belabor the point. There is a principle in verse 14, 1 Corinthians 9:14, it sums it up. "So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel." Those who proclaim the gospel are to get their living from the gospel. That means if you spend your life doing it you are to be supported in the doing. So now you can go back again to our text in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.

The first thing that the congregation is to give to the leaders, the elders, pastors, is respect that incorporates care in support them, to double honor them, being generous, not just a bare minimum so they have to scrape by, but showing great generosity and respect and admiration to them knowing they will be good stewards of what you give them.

What is the congregation's responsibility? Respect, admiration, honor, appreciation. Secondly, and this builds right on that, esteem your shepherds, esteem them. He says down in verse 13, "And that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work."

Now this is very much like the first one, not a lot of difference. To esteem, hegeomai means to consider or to regard, to think. It means to go a little deeper than the first duty because it says you are to esteem them. How? Very highly. You know what that is in the Greek? Beyond all measure...beyond all measure. And then the key word, "in love because of their work." Not because of their personality, this is not a personality contest, because of their work. You are to regard them beyond all measure. You are to regard a faithful pastor beyond all measure. The point is there's no limit. There's no limit to the regard you ought to have for that man, to the love you ought to have for that man. You are to love that man.

What does love mean? It means sacrificial...sacrificial service to him. It means affection for him. Not because of his personality, not because he's done favors for you but because of his work, because he ministers to you the Word of God, because he feeds your needy soul. In Galatians you would notice chapter 4 and verse 14, Paul says, "That which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you didn't despise or loathe," Paul had some bodily condition that made him repulsive to be around, and he says you didn't loathe that. There was nothing attractive about the man, nothing at all. You didn't loathe it, you received me as an angel of God, you received me as Christ Jesus Himself. That's the spirit. That's the attitude. No matter what the personality, no matter what might be the things that would not be welcomed such as some loathsome disease, you received me as if I were an angel of God or Christ Himself.

And then he says in verse 15, "If possible you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." It may have been, some think it was, that he had some ugly oozing eye disease. And he says you would have taken your own eyes right out of your own sockets and given them to me if you could have. Now that's esteeming beyond all measure. You loved me in spite of what was loathsome about my condition. You loved me in spite of the fact that I wasn't anything to look at. And you would have plucked out your eyes for me. That kind of sacrificial love. In Galatians, you'll be reminded, won't you, that as Paul writes the letter he really is saying to them that's how it used to be, what happened to change that? And he writes in a heart broken way. What happened to change that? What did I do to make you change your love?

The sheep then are to appreciate. More than that, they not only are to give respect and remuneration to one they know as their shepherd, but they are to love the shepherd beyond all measure to the point of any personal sacrifice. Why? Not because of their personality but because of their work. They've been called by God. They've been set apart for a special work and the people are to appreciate them and to acknowledge in love that work they have been called to do. Listen to John 13:20, "Truly, truly I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me. And he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." When you receive the shepherd you are receiving the Great Shepherd who sent him and the God who sent the Great Shepherd in love. You esteem your elders, your pastors and your esteem for them has no limits.

Whatever level of appreciation you have now, increase it in love. You are to love them because of what they do. And if you do not, you're in disobedience to these direct words of Scripture. That love means you seek their best. That love means you overlook their weaknesses and frailties. That love means you speak well of them. That love means you encourage them. That love means you lift them up as called men of God who have brought to you the truth.

And finally, and thirdly, he says in verse 13, "Live in peace with one another." That's the third thing, submit to your shepherds. There is nothing more grieving, more distracting, more difficult, more painful than discord in the church. That concept of living in peace with one another is a very familiar New Testament exhortation. We know about it, it's all over the New Testament. And you can find it in Romans 14:19, in 2 Corinthians 13:11, in Ephesians 4:3, Colossians 3:15, James 3:18, over and over again the New Testament calls for peace. But here it's very specific. Here it is in this context of the relation between the sheep and the shepherd and it should be a peaceful one. Submit to your shepherds, is the point. Submit. No strife. Eliminate conflict.

Obviously it presupposes a faithful shepherd. And where a man is faithful in doing the best that he can in the strength of the Spirit of God, you are to submit to that. That's a command of Scripture." 

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