In 1 Thessalonians 5.12-15 Paul gives the fledgling church some instructions on how to treat their leaders (vv.12-13) and then one another (vv.14-15). For our full teaching on the passage, check out the Saar Fellowship Podcast, here:
1 Corinthians 12.1-11 – Unity in Diversity – The Saar Fellowship Podcast
Taking what we do from this text, then, how does this all feed into or flow from the Lord Jesus? We know that nothing in our faith is freestanding, it is all anchored to and grows from, Jesus. We believe, because the Word of God teaches us so, that Jesus is the true head of the church (Ephesians 1.22, Colossians 1.18). So, simply, when we are deciding how to treat people in His church, we play by His rules. If He wants us to treat people like this or that, we do so. It’s His church. We do it His way.
Because it is His church, how you relate to the person in overall leadership of your church is how you are going to view your Lord and Saviour. Now, don’t misunderstand me here: the person leading your church is not your Lord and Saviour. But, if you cannot relate Biblically to the Lord’s representative, how on earth will you relate Biblically to your Lord Himself?
Before you try and do so in your mind, you can’t separate the two. “Well, I don’t like this guy, this guy is a bit of a clown…so I will disregard everything he says about my Christian life and how I need to live and how I should treat others, but Jesus, Jesus I like…I’m more of a big boss person…not His representatives“. Remember, Jesus cares about how you treat His church’s leaders and His church’s people (Ephesians 4.10-13). So, simply, relate to your leader(s) as you would your Lord.
Second, how we relate to one another is a direct reflection of how much we accept and affirm God’s Word. When we consider that all of humanity – past, present, and future – is made in God’s image (Genesis 1.27), that all of humanity was in the mind and on the heart of the Lord when He died for their salvation (1 John 2.2, note “whole world”), and that throughout Scripture we are encouraged to love one another (Proverbs 25.21-22) then when Paul says look,
…admonish the undisciplined,
comfort the discouraged,
help the weak,
be patient toward all.
See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone,
but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
(1 Thessalonians 5.14-15)
we know that this is just another perspective on the big picture: to love one another. Paul is not reinventing the wheel here, just reinforcing and putting into the minds of the people he was ministering to this truth to love your leaders and love one another.
Jesus Himself said that “My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you.” (John 15.12) A few years later John wrote this:
By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments.
(1 John 5.2)
For you and for me now then, Jesus commands that we love one another with a selfless, self-giving love. John backed this up and boiled it down by saying that how we show that we are loving one another is by loving God together and keeping His commands, together. Paul has put some specifics on the commandment keeping here in 1 Thessalonians 5.12-15: how we treat church leaders and how we treat the wider church family. This is now a choice for you.
It’s a choice to acknowledge,
to be at peace with one another,
to be patient,
and to pursue what is good for one another.
Part of your bigger picture development and discipleship, part of your equipping as believers is knowing how, Biblically to relate to church leaders and how to relate to one another. Paul has clearly laid it out in 1 Thessalonians 5.12-15. Now, it’s over to you.