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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 48

Prayers of Intercession continued...

1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children, that you would have a walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

These words were penned by the same man who over the course of centuries has been called unloving, uncaring, misogynistic, and mean by pseudo-theologians and various self-aggrandizing individuals calling themselves scholars.

I wanted to include this entire passage, because to me at least, it shows the compassion, gentleness, and love of Paul toward the household of faith, as he reminds the church at Thessalonica that not only did he and those who traveled with him impart the gospel of God to them, but also their own lives, because they had become dear to them.

Paul also reminds the church of the gentleness with which they treated them, as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. This is the true heart of a shepherd, an overseer, and one who has been called of God and appointed of the Holy Spirit to lead the people of God in all truth.

Just because Paul and those who traveled with him were gentle among the brethren at Thessalonica, it does not mean they did not preach the truth of God’s word to them. Being gentle, and omitting the truth are two very different things, which are unfortunately confused and interchanged nowadays to suit men’s sensibilities.

Being gentle, is not defined as telling the children of God there are no consequences, that they can live as they please and do as they desire, and Paul reminds the believers of Thessalonica that although he was gentle with them, he did exhort, comfort, and charge every one of them to have a walk worthy of God.

One can preach the whole counsel of God, one can preach the gospel of Christ, and still be gentle. One can preach the truth in gentleness, and remain in a spirit of gentleness while pleasing God who tests the heart.

Paul also reminds the brethren, that during their time together, both he, and those who were with him comported themselves devoutly, justly, and blamelessly among those who believed. Yes, overseers and shepherds are accountable before God not only to lead, and protect, and teach, but also to comport or behave themselves justly, devoutly, and blamelessly.

The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality might work in certain circles, but it is unacceptable within the house of God. The word of God is clear on this topic, as well as many other topics which we choose to sidestep and circumvent, because they might cause hurt feelings, friction, or a negative review by the church finance board.

I realize full well I’ve spent more time discussing shepherds and their various responsibilities than I had intended, but it was for a good and noble reason. I want to show you the big picture of what being called of God, and appointed of the Holy Spirit to be a shepherd of God’s people entails, so that you would understand not only why overseers covet your prayers, but why they desperately need them.

It is by no means a light or easy calling, and the responsibility and accountability that comes along with being appointed as overseer over God’s people by the Holy Spirit is great indeed.

So what ought the attitude of the sheep to be toward those who are called of God to shepherd them? How ought the sheep to feel concerning those whom God has appointed as their overseers?

1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, “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.”

So writing once to the church at Thessalonica, and once to his spiritual son, Paul emphasizes the fact that we ought to recognize those who labor among us, and those who are over us in the Lord, and though they might admonish us, we must esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.

I realize full well that preacher sniping has become a favorite pastime of many people, and I’ll be the first admit that some who are teaching heretical doctrines, and outright falsehoods deserve to be exposed, and have their teachings uncovered. Some however, have taken to passing judgment on one and all who happen to be in ministry, allowing for personal opinion or preference concerning certain aspects which have nothing to do with biblical doctrine, to dictate whether they are deemed reprobate and beyond redemption.

Not liking someone’s haircut, whether they have a mustache, whether they wear a wedding band, or whether their necktie is too colorful, is not grounds for publicly denouncing them as the spawn of darkness, and warning every one of their malicious nature.

Recognize those who labor among you, esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake, and be at peace among yourselves. Good advice for any age.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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