The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Thessalonians 5:12-14

Some Important Parting Words

Paul normally closes his letters with various exhortations specific to that church but general enough to apply to every church.  Here are several that should touch every believer’s heart with conviction as we see how we fall short from just these simple appeals.

First we are encouraged to “respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”  This is no call to blindly follow; ministers must lead while firmly grounded in the Scriptures.  The very word “pastor” is actually Latin for “shepherd” which implies gentle leadership.  But no man can lead a group which will not follow.  As one who has been there, these men can sometimes feel the weight of the world upon their shoulders—and they certainly should feel the weight of their high calling.  The sheep must understand that it is their job to admonish, to correct, to exhort, to warn, and even rebuke when necessary—and most pastors (who are generally born people-pleasers) are afraid to do this as often as they should for fear of hurt feelings or even reprisal.  But please note two things: They are over the flock “in the Lord”; that is, they have been called and set apart to be where they are by divine initiative.  And second, they are to be esteemed not for their persons but “because of their work.”  You are not commanded to like the man (though that is certainly a plus) but to respect the holy task that is his.  I look back over my years as pastor and mourn the fact that I rarely admonished and corrected sheep who needed such because like most I shrink from confrontation.  Pastors must speak the truth in love as they are required to do, but sheep must listen in love and receive wise counsel—as they are also required to do.  So be at peace with your elders and all else.

Verse fourteen includes various exhortations for those in our congregations who are “weak” and need some encouragement not only from the elders but from all.  The problem of idleness is referred to again and so for this church was a real issue.  Idleness is sin and births more sin: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” as the saying goes.  Work is a blessing: It keeps minds and hands busy that when left alone are prone to mischief.  This is especially true of children.  You do them a favor by keeping them occupied with meaningful tasks.  We must also remember that there are those among us who are naturally timid; we are not all born lions.  But when we are all together, we may become lions—lions for godly living.  Let us remember that we all need patience: We all were once weak—and may be so again.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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