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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE CHURCH AT PEACE

1 Thess 5:11-13 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them, which 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. And be at peace among yourselves.

Christians that are sincerely putting forth their best effort to abide in the will of God, are to comfort each other, with the assurance that the righteous will receive eternal salvation, which was promised by God to His faithful children, at the end of time. It is in the knowledge of the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus, found in the Holy Spirit-inspired word of God, that one finds this spiritual comfort. Once this assurance is found, and it becomes the foundation on which their Christian life is based, it immediately becomes their duty and responsibility to share this same comfort with all others that they have opportunity to edify, through the teaching of these truths, that are found in God's word.

Edification, as it applies to a follower of Christ, is the imparting of knowledge from one to another, that strengthens, reinforces, builds up, and confirms their faith in God, and the hope of salvation offered through His Son, Jesus Christ. All within the body of Christ have been given various talents and abilities, as well as the responsibility to use them, in order to edify the world, and especially fellow Christians. To the church at Ephesus, Paul said that God, through Jesus, gives all Christians varying degrees of abilities. Some He gave the ability to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. He, then, told us why these different abilities were given? They were given ...for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).

Not only were these Christians of Thessalonica, and all Christians everywhere, to edify one another, but also they are to know them, which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. "To know them," is to know the elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, and other knowledgeable, influential members of the church of Christ, to which you were added by God. This commandment refers to the specific congregation, to whom you have placed your responsibility as a member. Leaders of Christ's church are not to be cold, distant, and aloof from its membership. They are to be acquainted with the needs, as well as the abilities, of each member. The body of Christ is not to be made up of strangers one to another, but, they are to be a fellowship of friends, neighbors, and fellow Christians that become, and remain, a caring, loving family of God's people. They are to be united in service to God, and to be truly concerned about the physical comfort and spiritual welfare of one another.

We must, then, know those that teach, lead, and serve the specific congregation of God's people to which we have placed our membership. To this Paul adds that we are also to esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake. Honor and respect must especially be paid to elders that undertake, and discharge, the responsibilities inherent in this position of godly rule, leadership, and instruction. The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians said that all members of the church are to Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Heb. 13:17).

However, this esteem should not stop with those that shepherd the flock. Esteem should be extended to all, which labor among you ...for their works' sake. Deacons, preachers, teachers, song leaders, men that direct and lead the congregation in worship through prayers, those that help serve the Lord's Supper and pass the collection plates, greeters that meet members and visitors entering the church building, ushers that show worshipers to convenient seats, those that serve in administrative capacities, those that clean the church building and keep the premises neat and orderly, those that visit, and care for the sick, provide food and clothing where needed, etc., etc., etc.

The list of members of the church of Christ to whom we are to esteem, is endless. It includes the member with the least of talents and abilities, because their faithful presence at each worship service is their labor for the Lord. And their work should be esteemed to the highest degree, because their words, and even their very presence at worship and bible studies, serves as an inspiration to all other members of the congregation.

With edification, knowledge of godly labors, and esteem for each member, the church of Christ will grow in the grace of God and there will be peace among yourselves!