"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." 1 Thess 5:12-13
God has given us great earthly gifts to help us and guide us on our journey toward heaven. "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints..." Eph 4:11-12. He has placed these men among us and before us to lead us in our spiritual walk. They are worthy of our respect and appreciation, if not for their own sake then for the fact that they are chosen of the Lord.
Beloved, in every aspect of our lives, there are authority figures. We have them on our jobs, in our schools, in our government, in our neighborhood associations and even in our families. In every case, we respond to leadership through abiding by laws, statues, ordinances or directions for the greater good of society and ourselves. Much more should we then respond to those whom God has sent to guide us in areas that supercede the temporal. Whether you refer to them as elders, bishops, presbyters, shepherds, overseers or pastors, their responsibility is to first be men of God. In so doing, they are to be examples of Christian virtues. They are to teach us in order that we may better know God and His will for our lives. They are to minister to those who are in need through whatever means God has gifted them individually. They are to protect the flock from all threats, particularly those that are spiritual. They are to serve God through serving the church.
It is a tragedy that some find it as easy to disrespect and disregard these men as they do the far more distant and much less personally impactful President of the United States(whoever that may be at any given point in our lives). Because it is perceived by some that our elders are not tied directly to our ability to sustain ourselves and our families, some find it easy to discount and, by extension, disrespect them.
Consider these two situations. In Numbers 12:1-16, we are shown the consequences of Aaron and Miriam in particular, speaking against God's annointed, Moses. It did not go well for Miriam, but it was Moses who prayed for her restoration. Secondly, it is well known that Saul constantly sought the life of innocent David. In 1 Sam 24:1-10, David has the opportunity to take Saul's life but said, "I will not put forth my hand against my lord for he is the Lord's anoninted."
Let us be sure to thank God for his amazing gift of earthly leadership. Let us thank Him for equipping us through those whom He has placed among us. Let us honor God by honoring our elders. They are indeed worthy.
Loving Like Jesus,