A Healthy Church Member is a Humble Follower (Part1)
April 12, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
We are looking at the Marks of a Healthy Church Member. As I mentioned before, this series is based on the little book written by Thabiti Anyabwile entitledWhat is a Healthy Church Member? Except for the 8th mark, the titles of ourstudies on the first seven marksare the same as those mentioned in that book. So far, here are the topics we have already covered:
A Healthy Church Member is…
an Expositional Listener
a Biblical Theologian
a Biblical Evangelist
a Committed Member
Let us look at the Context of this letter first.The book of Acts gives us the background for this letter. In Acts 16:8-14, Paul received the Macedonian vision at Troas to go to Europe. This was the beginning of spreading the gospel from the continent of Asia to the continent of Europe. Philippi was the first city in the present-day Europe where Paul established a church;Thessalonica was the second. Luke reported the evangelization of Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-9. Most of the converts in Thessalonica were Gentiles who abandoned idolatry to follow Christ (1:9). Some of the converts were Jews. Paul however was forced to leave the city when the Jews who did not accept the Good News started a riot against the apostles and accused Paul and Silas of causing civil disturbance (Acts 17:4- 7). The believers there came under great persecution following this uproar. Paul left a church that was only a few months old in the faith. Paul was deeply concerned about the welfare of the Thessalonian church and he repeatedly attempted to return to the city but was hindered by Satan (2:17- 18). When Paul could no longer bear his anxiety over the church, he sent Timothy to Thessalonica to strengthen the believers and then to report back on the condition of the church there (3:1-2, 5). When Timothy returned from Thessalonica, he reported good news that the Thessalonian believers remained steadfast in the faith despite the opposition they faced (3:6- 8; Acts 18:5). Timothy’s good report about the Thessalonians led Paul to write this letter. Some of Paul’s purposes for writing this letter are the following:
- To express His thanksgiving to God for their continued faith, love and hope in Christ. (1:1-10)
- To answer false allegations about his motives for leaving the Thessalonica in haste (2:1-12)
- To comfort the young church that was still going through persecution (2:13-16)
- To express his joy in their faith and perseverance (2:17-3:13)
- To give them practical instructions on moral purity and disciplined living (4:1-12)
- To give them instructions regarding the Rapture and the Day of the Lord (4:13—5:11)
- To instruct them regarding church relationships: their attitude towards leaders and relationship among themselves (5:12-15)
- To exhort them in the basics of Christian living (5:16-22)
The Leaders’ responsibility towardS the flockLeaders are described in three ways: 1Th 5:12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you. (Note: The Greek sentence contains three participles united under one definite article to indicate that the leaders mentioned here are not three but one group of persons who do all three activities; and all three actions are in the present tense to stress continuing action.)
1. They labor among the flock.1Th 5:12 respect those who labor among you The Greek word for labor (kopiaō) means to labor to the point of weariness, and implies that the work of Elders is one that demands constant diligence. John Gill: who laboured in the word and doctrine; gave up themselves to meditation, reading, and prayer; laboured hard in private, to find out the meaning of the word of God; and studied to show themselves workmen, that need not be ashamed; and preached the word in season and out of season; laboured in teaching, instructing, and admonishing them; they laboured to enlighten their understandings, to inform their judgments, to raise their affections, and to bring their wills to a resignation to the will of God; to refresh their memories with Gospel truths; to strengthen their faith, encourage their hope, and draw out their love to God and Christ. They faithfully dispensed all ordinances, and diligently performed the duties of their office; and were willing to spend and be spent, for the glory of Christ, and the good of souls, and earnestly contended for the faith of the Gospel; and all this they did, as among them, so for them, for their spiritual good and welfare.
2. They rule and provide leadership and direction to the flock.1Th 5:12b respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord Leaders are recognized as being “over” the congregation in the sense of ruling, presiding over, and providing leadership and direction as a shepherd is over the sheep.
- 1Ti 3:5 - for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church
- 1Ti 5:17 - Let the elders who rule well
3. They admonish the flock.The Greek word for “admonish” here noutheteō. Generally, it means, to instruct, to put into the mind.
- More specifically, it means instruction in correct belief and behavior
- To put into the minds good and wholesome things such as the doctrines of the gospel;
- to warn of sin and danger and reprove and rebuke with faithfulness
- to exhort them to perform their duty
- to admonish them if they go astray.
- to speak to one about his conduct, reminding him of what he seems to have forgotten, and of what is rightly expected from him.
The members’attitutes and actions toward leadershipI see at least one implied and three clearly stated attitudes or actions that characterize healthy church members. They all fall under the 9th mark of a healthy church member which is a humble follower.
1. [Implied]: They are to be teachableThis is implied in the passage: 1Th 5:12-13 We ask you, brothers, to respectthose who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteemthem very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves What are some of the characteristics of a teachable heart? Turn to James 1: 19-21 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. The context here is not just about social relationships or how to communicate properly. It is talking about response to the Word.
- In verse 18, the word of truth is mentioned.
- In verse 21, the implanted Word is mentioned.
- In verse 22, be doers of the Word is mentioned.
- In verse 25, it is called the perfect law of liberty. So the Word of God is the theme.
- The teachable heart is “quick to hear.” Which means to be eager and attentive to listen to the Word of God. It means to have a hunger and appetite for the Word. He has a tremendous desire to learn.
- The teachable heart is “slow to speak.” James is not here talking about giving an opinion before you've heard the whole story. Rather, this talks about not being quick to argue with the Lord or to be defensive looking for excuses of why this doesn’t apply to him when God’s Word confronts His ways.
- The teachable heart is “slow to anger.” Again, James is not talking about being slow to anger as a general habit of mind, which is indeed most true. This is still talking about how a person is to receive the Word. We should lay aside all anger and wrath, and should come to the Word of God with a calm and receptive spirit.
- The teachable heart puts away all sin(v.21a)Instead of being angry, James orders his readers to “put awayfrom their lives all filthiness and rampant wickedness”
- The teachable heart welcomes the Word with humility. (v.21b)The reception of truth must be marked by humility or meekness. The word translated “meekness” is not spineless weakness; it has the idea of strength in submission or strength under control. It was used of Alexander the Great’s horse, which was powerfully strong, but totally submissive and responsive to the master’s touch. The believer with this quality can be very strong and yet completely submissive and sensitive to the Lord’s command.
2. They are to know or recognizetheir leaders.1Th 5:12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you. The Greek word for respect is “oida.” I did a word study on this and I discovered some interesting things about it. It is difficult for me to decide what it really means. But let me show you how commentators understand the word.
- Alexander Strauch – “to know”
- When 1Thessalonians was written, the church was only three to six months old. Paul had only stayed with the Thessalonians about a month (Acts 17:2). All was new, and the believers themselves were new babes in Christ, newly saved out of a pagan background…
- There was no distinction between clergy and laity, no officialism, and no priestly garments distinguished certain members. Nor should we assume that anyone was supported fulltime in the assembly’s service. Therefore, the humble, servant leaders who built others up within the congregation could easily be overlooked. …
- As the letters indicate, certain gifted men or prophets may have received more public attention than those laboring at less spectacular duties (1Th 5:19-20).
- Moreover, false laborers, busybodies, and would-be teachers (2Th 3:6-15) were active. So, it required some effort for the congregation to know all those who truly labored at leading and admonishing. …
- A major Greek lexicon(Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker) says that word “oida” can also mean “take an interest in someone” or “care for someone.” This is why Albert Barnes writes:
- Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament- to give deserved recognition to someonerespect, appreciate, have regard for.
3. They are to esteem their leadersvery highly in loveand to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. The action is expressed in the Greek present tense, indicating a continuing action. Paul uses an emphatic adverb, very highly (hyperekperissōs), to describe the regard that the church should have for its leaders. Someone said, “The words in Greek carry such an emphasis as cannot well be expressed in English. Their love was to be joined with esteem, and esteem with love, and both these to abound and superabound towards them.”
- Alexander Strauch:
4. Theyare to live at peace with them1Th 5:13Be at peace among yourselves. Hendriksen says, “In connection with what immediately precedes, this must mean, ‘Stop your carping (faultfinding), instead of continually criticizing the leaders, follow their directions, so that peace (here: absence of dissensions) results.’” Alexander Strauch: Satan does all he can to create warfare and division among God’s people, and Christians often help him succeed by acting the ways of the old life (2Co 12:20-21 - For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.) Harry Ironside provides practical counsel to help us maintain peace among ourselves: … It is so easy to allow little things to set one Christian against another, and thus bring in strife and a spirit of quarrelsomeness among God’s people. When we realize that anything like this is in our hearts we should take it immediately to the Lord in humiliation and self-judgment, and seek grace not to say or do anything willfully that is likely to cause contention among God’s children.” Personal Illustration: I attended a seminar. I felt bad at first about the teacher. I was disappointed. I thought about how it would have been better if the last speaker handled the seminar. And then while I was praying, I realized how proud I was. Then I started to make a list of all the good things he did. How he arranged the whole seminar. How he was instrumental for the teachers. I wrote him an email and expressed my appreciation and encouraged him. I wrote it sincerely. He told me how encouraged he was. I prayed that God would bless his ministry. I even thought of inviting him to handle a seminar in our church. So based on 1The 5:12-13, a healthy church member who is a humble follower displays four attitudes and actions toward leadership
- They are teachable.
- They know or recognize their leaders.
- Theyesteem their leaders very highly in love
- Theylive at peace with them
- As you again consider the instruction to church members in 1Th 5:12-13, is there anything that surprised you? Why?
- What are some of the ways members have violated the commands listed here?
- If you have failed to obey these commands, what are some concrete changes you can start in your life?