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November 26 – Respect for office-bearers

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:12 

Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

As you go to the House of God today, think about how your church is blessed by having elders and deacons. The reports about the spiritual health of the Thessalonian congregation brought by Timothy to Paul had for the most part been very positive. However, not all of the news had been favourable. In chapters four and five, it is suggested that there existed some disorderly members in the congregation. It seems that some were loath to submit to those who had oversight.

We know that the Thessalonian church had responsible leaders since Luke mentions some of them by name, but we are not told what prompted Paul to issue the admonition of verse twelve. The context suggests that there were certain people who disrespected the church leaders.

There may not be a spirit of disrespect for the office bearers of any congregation. It is the will of the Lord that church leaders, especially elders, should be held in high esteem for their work’s sake. These men preach, teach, warn, admonish, encourage and comfort God’s people. They are gifts from God who are given the responsibility for the nurturing of the souls of God’s people. It is through their authority that God chooses to provide order, governance and spiritual nurture for the flock. They exist to help us on our road to God and will be held accountable to God for every soul under their care. It is an awesome responsibility and God requires that we respect, honour and submit to them; we are to hold them in high esteem.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to help you develop a deep love for the church and her leaders. Unless they should require of you something unscriptural, ask Him to help you to submit willingly and cheerfully to their authority.

Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

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