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Esteeming Our Elders

An emcee at a gala dinner introduced the guest speaker as follows:  “Rumor has it that tonight’s speaker maintained a 4.0 average and made the Dean's list throughout his college career.  Rumor has it that he was captain of the football team, baseball team, and track team three years in a row.  Rumor has it he was a waiting list of beautiful, intelligent, accomplished women who have called asking him out on a date.  Rumor has it he’s able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.  And now, I’d like you to meet and make welcome the man who started all these rumors- our speaker!”  This guy was highly self-esteemed!

First Timothy 3: 1-7 describes the kind of men God esteems - elders in His church.  The description is a challenging one.  Qualities listed include:  “blameless, husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; rules his own house well....take care of the church of God....not a novice...a good testimony among those outside.”.”  This is not a rumor.  God not only expects there will be men of that kind of spiritual and moral character among us, He also expects that the church will recognize them and support them in what has to be the most awesome and weighty task on earth.  The awesome responsibilities placed on elders include:  leading the church, watching out for and some day giving account for the souls of those under their care; shepherding and overseeing the flock of God and leading by a good example, feeding and tending the flock while watching for wolves (false teachers); exhorting and convincing the gainsays and those who contradict sound doctrine (Hebrews 13: 7, 17; 1 Peter 5:2-3; Acts 20:28-32; Tits 1: 9).  What an enormous job.  Would you want it?  Thank God some are willing.

There are many in the church who are quick to criticize when an elder falls short.  Are we just as eager to esteem and encourage them?  First Thessalonians 5:12-13 directs Christians to “recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”  Phyllis McGinley said, “Sticks and stones are hard on bones, Aimed with angry art; Words can sting like anything.  But silence breaks the heart.”  Jesus has let us know how He feels about faithful and godly elders- He will give them a crown of glory when He returns (1 Peter 5:4).  Meanwhile, it wouldn’t hurt if we would  give them our esteem and an encouraging word.

Dan Gulley, Evangelist
Smithville church of Christ