Life was designed to be lived in community.

10/06/13 Proper Spiritual Responsibility!

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Thursday, October 10, 2013 Under: Sermon
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13(NKJV)

12 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.

Intro: This is the tenth message from a verse by verse chapter by chapter look at the church of Thessalonica in the book of 1 Thessalonians. The topic in this passage deals with the proper relationship between the shepherd and the sheep.

Part of the reality of a healthy church is for the leadership to understand that there will always be different levels of maturity within the body of the believers. The church faces challenges and deals constantly with sin problems. Only as it recognizes and confronts the weaknesses, imperfections, and difficulties caused by sin does Christ’s church begin and continue to grow spiritually. The true church will also face strong opposition from Satan, the good news is it has supernatural resources because it is the body of Christ in the world and the Holy Spirit energizes its life and the Word of God instructs it and its people possess divinely granted spiritual gifts to edify one another and reach the lost. True believers in the church love and obey the Lord and sincerely strive toward greater holiness. For the first time in all my years in the pastorate I believe that is happening! In verse 12 of chapter 5 this starts a new direction for the Thessalonian believer, it is an exhortation to continue and grow in their Christian walk. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17

No doubt the Lord wouldn’t have allowed me to preach this message years ago. But I believe now is the time and interestingly enough I am just preaching the entire book verse by verse. And the Word of God is telling me: “If the shepherds and the sheep do not fulfill their proper spiritual responsibilities to each other, the church cannot be what God intends it to be.”

1. The Shepherds’ Responsibility to the Sheep: Vs. 12

“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.”

The Shepherds responsibility starts with the basics – feed and protect his flock. The leader must be able to provide spiritual discernment and guidance.

The Thessalonians were already doing well; this was just an encouraging appeal for them to do better. Paul therefore told the church of three responsibilities its shepherds had to the sheep: to labor among them, to exercise authority over them, and to provide instruction for them.

The responsibility to labor: The faithful pastor works hard among his people and ministers to them as a shepherd cares for his sheep, or a father leads his family. Spiritual shepherds must proclaim the gospel explain and apply the truth, warn and admonish the sheep, and counsel them from Scripture: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The responsibility to exercise authority: The Shepherd is to have charge over you in the Lord; it means to “stand before” to direct. The Thessalonian shepherds’ responsibility to give their flock spiritual guidance and direction involved many duties, such as setting a positive spiritual tone, bringing about a functioning unity, relating well on an individual basis to people in the church, helping them to cope with life’s difficulties and find biblical solutions for their problems, and working for necessary change within the church—all by diligent effort and reliance on the Holy Spirit. The Shepherd is equipped and appointed by God: “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NLT)

The responsibility to provide instruction: The third responsibility of shepherds to their sheep is to give them instruction. Instruction for the purpose of correcting and changing people, it is teaching with an element of warning, designed to direct the sheep to holy living. For the first time in this church and the first time in my ministry we are shortly endeavoring to start a Small Group Bible Study, I am excited! Do you want to know what the topic is? (True Spirituality) Could you imagine a church getting a hold of the idea of what is true spirituality? The Book of Romans 12 can teach you this. The shepherd must be able to teach in a manner that exhorts believers to practice the truth.

2. The Sheeps’ Responsibility to the Shepherds: Vs. 12-13

“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.”

Those who herd sheep for a living know that the animals can be quite difficult to deal with. Sheep are dirty, weak, unorganized creatures that are prone to wander. Yet they can also be demanding and have no regard for those who get in the way of their sharp hooves. Sheep can make life quite joyless for the shepherd if they do not obey him. Likewise, when believers do not obey the Lord’s commands or submit to the leadership of His appointed leaders, they can make life in the local church miserable and unproductive: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

This is why it is vital that Christians realize and fulfill their responsibility to their pastors. Paul gave the Thessalonians a threefold expression of that duty to pastors: appreciate them, esteem them, and submit to them.

The responsibility to appreciate: The King James says: “we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you.” The idea with “to know” means to appreciate. It is common for people to be unkind, critical, and indifferent toward their pastors when they do not know them well. But believers will not be as likely to have such negative attitudes toward pastors they truly know. Rather, they are more likely to treat them with genuine respect and appreciation. The church must generously support those shepherds who labor hard to expound the Word.

The responsibility to esteem: The congregation of believers has the duty to esteem “think about” its pastors very highly “beyond all measure.” Paul intensified this responsibility even further by telling the Thessalonians they must have high esteem for their shepherds in love, not because of their personalities or the favors they rendered, but because of their work. God has called pastors and set them apart for the important work of leading His church.

The responsibility to submit: “Live in peace with one another.” It is simple; we are to love one another! Hebrews 13:17 contains two additional exhortations regarding submission to Shepherds. The first half of the verse says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Unless the shepherds ask the sheep to do something that is unscriptural or sinful, the sheep ought to obey and submit to the shepherds’ leadership. Sheep should never disregard their shepherds’ faithful teaching and oversight because such sinful disrespect only makes the leaders’ accountability to God that much more difficult. The verse concludes by admonishing, “Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Stubborn, self-willed, and unsubmissive sheep steal the joy from their shepherds and give themselves and their leaders nothing but pain and an unprofitable relationship.


For the local church to function as God intended and receive His blessing, its pastors must be responsible to labor among the people, exercise authority over them, and provide instruction to them. At the same time, the people have obligations to appreciate the pastors, esteem them, and submit to them. When both fulfill their respective responsibilities, the church becomes the unified, joyful, peaceful, and healthy flock God intended it to be. Faithful pastors and faithful people ministering together bring honor to Christ, the head of the church, advance the kingdom of God, and give Him glory.

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

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