“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”
We live in trying times. Today as I am writing, we in North America and many around the world are celebrating Remembrance Day, the day when WW2 stopped. In Dunnville where I live, we have erected a little memorial of 128 flags to remember the 128,000 Canadians that have died in several wars. Sadly, the rights and freedoms that were paid for in the blood of not just these from Canada but countless men and women around the world are being trampled on, and I am not sure if we have the stomach to fight anymore.
Today I want to encourage you to find the good that we have around us and to hold on to it. We must use the Bible to know the standard of what is good. But if you have good in your life, good godly people, you attend a Biblical church, have a godly spouse and children, then hold on to these things and cherish them; you are truly blessed.
- Cherish Good Pastors and Deacons, verse 12-13
Recognize those that labor among you. Take note of them.
I was listening to a video on YouTube yesterday about a pastor who is being sued by the Real Estate board because the church he pastors refuses to work with the LGBTQ organizations in their community. His church helps to feed the poor in their community, and when the local food bank decided to join forces with the LGBTQ chapter, the church withdrew and began to use their own facility to feed the people. But this was not enough; he is a Real Estate agent in his community, and he is now being sued and may lose his association with them and potentially his income because he chose to obey God rather than man.
In seeing this, I learned an interesting statistic: 68% of all pastors in North America are bi-vocational. Like me, the vast majority work a second job and take a small stipend from the church they serve. One dear friend of mine works at the local Home Depot to be able to have benefits for his family.
Often, your Pastors and your deacons put in their 40 hours at work and then put in whatever is needed at the church as well. I work as a Salesman in a car dealership, plus write here, help to pastor 2 churches, have a wife, 3 kids and a grandkid. I know countless pastors that work as Hospital chaplains and are on call for the police departments. I know some that do all kinds of jobs to help pay the bills, and their wives work. They are not living lavish lifestyles; they simply support their families while pastoring and taking care of your family. And, don’t forget the people who help cut the lawns, keep the place clean, put out the chairs, set up the audiovisuals, and on and on.
Never take for granted those that labor in our local churches, those who do it out of love for the Lord and His work. I know of a lot of preachers who retire and then use their retirement to fill in for younger preachers so they can have a break. These men are working to help and serve still. Rejoice if you have a preacher and his family who are sold out for the Kingdom. Praise God for them. Trust me; it is hard on their families.
Let me give a shoutout to my wife, who often comes in from working all night, gets a nap for 45 minutes, then goes with me over an hour away to the church in Guelph. She is there and gets no sleep as we minister to the people and often has to come home and go back to work after a few hours. If you are blessed like me with a pastor’s wife who is committed to the Kingdom, praise her and pray for her. Many preachers quit the ministry because their wives don’t want to do it anymore, and the men feel trapped and defeated, so they leave the work.
- Cherish Peace, verse 13
Those of us who have never known war often do not cherish peace. We do not appreciate what it is like not to live in fear for your life. Over the 37 years that I have been in the ministry, I have sadly been in war-like situations in the Lord’s churches. You could feel the tension. Every business meeting was a dreadful and emotionally sapping event. One side of the room was turned against the other, and raised voices and sharp words ensued. Eventually, people leave, and the hurts stay.
If you have a peaceful church, praise God and cherish it. This does not mean that there are no disagreements but that they are handled in a godly fashion; each seeks to lift up the other even in disagreement. There is no coercion, no threats, and the work of the Lord’s kingdom is front and center. If there is unity and humility, thank God. Cherish it and work hard to keep it.
What about in your family? What about your spiritual life and your personal life? Are you at peace with yourself in Jesus? By the way, ignoring each other and avoiding each other is not peace; that is how fireworks turn into nuclear bombs that end relationships and destroy churches. Cherish humility and forgiveness in your own life; seek forgiveness, seek reconciliation, seek grace, seek love and kindness, pray for each other. It is very hard to pray for someone and hate them at the same time.
Notice we are called to be at peace among ourselves; the world is a hard place. In contrast, the Lord’s churches should be a respite from the callousness and troubles of the world. We should find people who love us, long to see us, and miss us when we are not there. We should have genuine friendships that are a balm to the hardships of the world around us. We should be able to be open and honest in a safe, loving environment. We should work hard to make the Lord’s churches a place of peace. Jesus is the Head of each local church, and He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 6:9).
There is so much in these verses, and we will not get to all of it today. But the idea is holding to what is good.
Imagine if we have churches that truly cherish the ones who served as pastors, cherish their wives and children and the sacrifices made. Imagine if we have churches that cherish the deacons and their wives, their kids as well. What if we have churches that cherish the bus drivers, the janitors, the Sunday School teachers that come tired and worn out from all their labors as well? What if we cherish the people who made sure that snow was moved from the doors, stairs and ramps?
What if our churches were safe places to hear the truth – even the harsh truths about our sin, my sin, about Hell and the finality of it? What if our churches were truly the Light on a Hill that drew all people in our areas to Jesus, or at least the ones who were looking? This is how we hold to things that are good.
All too often, we say these catchphrases, but we do not put actions to words; we do not put effort into the cause. Cherish those that do the work among you and cherish peace. Hold on to the workers, and hold on to peace; hold on to what is good.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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