Sunday, September 14, 2008

Those Who Labor Among You

The other day I was thinking about all the years I had spent at my former church. I began to wonder how I had been so deceived for so long and what I needed to do in the future to make sure that I never found myself in that situation again. The Bible verse that says, know those who labor among you, came to me and I looked it up to see exactly what it said. Here it is in the amplified version:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]--your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you. And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in [intelligent and sympathetic] appreciation of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, [and] be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper].See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody. Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be.

I italicized the beginning and the end of this passage because that is what stood out to me the most. I typed all of the passage because I am so tired of having several single scriptures read, out of context, and strung together to create a new doctrine that does not line up with what the Bible teaches.

This scripture tells us to get to know those who labor among us and those who are our leaders. The leaders at my former church did not want to get to know anyone that they were leading, and they certainly did not want those that they were leading to get to know them. They were secretive about everything that concerned their lives. They didn't want anyone to know anything about them. They only wanted people to know the image that they built for themselves and as the years went on it became apparent that this was a very false image.

It also tells us to test all things and hold fast to what is good and to stay away from evil. I began to look in the New Testament to see what leaders should be like and what I should hold fast to and what I should stay away from. I found this in Matthew and I felt like the New Living Translation gets the point across the best.

Matthew 7:15-23 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.'

I looked at the way the leadership in my former church had behaved. The way they treated people as a whole. It was so wrong. I looked at peoples' lives that had been mistreated by the leadership and the results of the way they had been treated. It was definitely bad fruit. I see by this scripture that all because someone 'prophesies, casts out demons and performs miracles' in Jesus' name it means nothing if people are treated as something to be used today and discarded tomorrow. According to this scripture someone who doesn't even know Jesus could prophesy, cast out demons and perform miracles, and at my former church there were no demons being cast out and no one performing miracles.

Proverbs 29:4 in The Message says: A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste. I have personally seen the trail of waste left in many peoples' lives by my former leaders.

The New King James version says it like this: The king by justice establishes the land, but he who exacts gifts and tribute overthrows it.

The dictionary definition of justice is:1) the quality of being just; fairness 2)the principle of moral rightness 3)conformity to moral rightness in action and attitude, righteousness 4)the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment, and due rewards in accordance with honor, standards or law.

The Bible has this to say about justice in Matthew23:23 in the NIV says:"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The most important things about the ones who labor among you is how they act. If I ever choose another church to be a part of and become a member of I will make sure that the ones in leadership positions do not neglect the more important matters such as justice, mercy and faithfulness. I will make sure I get to know those who labor with me. I will choose a church where the leaders want to labor with me and not control me and require that I labor for them instead of for the gospel.


Anonymous said...

We were told for so many years not to judge people and never to question the leaders. But in the verses you gave it is very clear that we are to "Know them by their fruits." If things are not lining up, it is our responsibility to GET OUT!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish we had all heeded the still small voice inside of us that told us things weren't right. We could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache.

cary said...

Understand your hurt. Church hurt can be just as real as divorce, loss of loved one etc. The real test of the minister is the message that he preaches. Is he preaching the message of the Cross which the Apostle Paul said was most important. If he's preaching the right message it will work for him as well. It's the message of the cross that brings victory into the life of all believers. Blessings,

Cortney said...

Knowing those that labour with you has always been a scripture dear to me. We knew those that were with us, when we were in the world..what now that we are in the body of Christ. If we began to know those and respect the varying roles within the body, proper functioning will likely follow. We find so often in today's "church" ppl don't know thier roles or their place in the body. My pastor made it plan on just last and callings are w/o as an early comment noted even those that don't have a relationship with God can be used of God. Let's be more careful and begin to know and appreciate each person within and without the body of Christ.

Meadville, MS

Lita Wright said...


I agree that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, the problem is that there is a huge multitude of people in authority who are not called of God .... they are called by their greed and self importance. All because someone tells you they are called of God doesnt mean they are... That is why we should know those who labor among us and know ALL about them. Dont wait till those who are "called of God" are in prison for child molestation or have destroyed many many lives through their greed for money and greed for power.

Anonymous said...

It is good to know those who labour among us, however, we should not let their flaws causes bitterness to us. That is one of subtle weapon the devil uses to trap Christians.

Fon Sparks said...

Yes know them that labor among you. But it is our responsibility to hear from God about the church we attend, we need to keep in mind that, Leadership is not perfect, it is the ones God chose to lead. Everyone is working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Finally everyone is broken and in need of repair. We go to church in acknowledgement that we need help. Church is Gods system and HE is fully capable of running it. PRAY HARD FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP THAT THEY HEAR FROM GOD AND ARE OBEDIENT TO HIS CALL AND HIS WILL FOR THEIR LIVES. Grace be unto you when you become a leader.

Lita Wright said...

All the people who start or pastor a church are not called of God to do so. Many are but many aren't. Just because someone is in a leadership position doesn't mean God put him there. God would not put a rapist or a liar in a leadership position.

CeCe Jacobs said...

Praise God, I liked your story here speaking as someone with a long Church leadership history I experienced the same type of things mentioned, even from other leaders, which I saw it as clique groups. However, I just told God about it in prayer and tried to demonstrate the better behavior, by being transparent to all them that we are over. However, those who were hiding did not trust me around them because of whatever was going on in their lives they knew I would not approve somehow. But we were taught that we could not tell people about our lives per say or have lay people over to our homes unless it was approved by the Church for some function (micro-managing). These things have taken place in some well meaning Churches as well due to poor behavior of some Christians. But if I am a leader and you are welcomed over to my house why am I not welcomed over to your house, and why do we only talk at Church? To me this is not using good discernment in knowing them that labor among you and so why would I support a ministry that treats me this way. I decided that if someone acted in this manner I did not want to go to their home etc. You pray and try not to be hurt by it and move on as the Lord leads you to do so.

I found this story because I had a question, how can you know them that labor among you via website ministries especially in terms of supporting them with financial gifts etc. I feel that when a ministry uses this scripture to tell you that you should support them because their word blessed or fed you in some way, that you need to be supporting their work. Would anyone like to give me their comments about this concern.
Love you all in Christ!

CeCe Jacobs said...

If we have many teachers in Christ but not many fathers are how are we suppose to support all those teachers in our lives. Shouldn't we just be supporting major people in our lives versus everyone when learned something from? I don't mind sending a gift as the Lord leads me to others I listen to but it bothers me when people use scripture to compel others to give to their ministry. I also believe that if God gives you an ministry assignment then He will also give you the means to support it. Many times in working with some Churches I have found that people take on projects that they cannot support that may or may not have been what God told them to do, I'm just saying, when I started my ministry I used what was in my hand (Moses started his this way also see Exodus 4:2) and I let people know what our mission was and if they wanted to support it this is how they could. However, if no one supported us with funds or other kinds of needs our dependency is on God we support the ministry God gave US to do and it is up to God and I to cause it to go forth. Let me know what you think, Blessings