1 Thessalonians 5:12 “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.”
Appreciation goes a long way. There is not much harder than working your tail off for someone who doesn’t appreciate what you are doing. We are called to do this – work without recognition – but it sure is nice when someone takes the time to thank you for what you have done.
The church at Thessalonica was in the beginning stages. Paul had started the congregation but was soon forced to leave due to persecution that cropped up amongst the unbelievers. Being one of the main seaports in the provinces of Greece and Asia there were always new people passing through the city that needed to hear the gospel message. There were others who were believers but were struggling with difficulties and deep questions. There was much to be accomplished and a lot for people to learn.
In his absence, Paul appointed elders to care for the needs of the body. It is highly likely that these men had other jobs outside of the church and gave their free time to lead, teach and help the people. These responsibilities, made more difficult by the intense persecution, must have been very exhausting and pressure-filled.
In his first Thessalonian letter Paul encourages the believers, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” He asks them to esteem and love these faithful men because of their work.
These men had been given various spiritual gifts by God and had been appointed by Paul to lead the church. They were to be followed and appreciated. If everyone just decided to do his or her own thing the church would have become a shambles. Though all were equal in God’s sight, some were chosen to be the leaders. By cooperating with them and appreciating them it would be possible to live together in peace.
This is no different today. We are each given gifts by God in which to serve the body of Christ, but some are given the gift of teaching God’s word and leading. It is a hard job week after week to study God’s Word, to prepare messages, to visit the sick, and care for the needs of the congregation. It is easy to take this ministry for granted. But without it there would be many who fall away and others who would not know the message God has for them.
This week let’s consider all that our spiritual leaders do and thank them. They are working hard for our encouragement and instruction, and could probably use some encouragement themselves. A little appreciation will go a long way!