Support the Work, Enjoy the Fruit (1 Thessalonians #17)

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

How people treat the productive class determines how productive a culture can be.  When you tell working people to hand over their money so it can be given to people on drugs or too lazy to get a job, you will eventually demoralize productive people.  And more so, you will turn the productive people into defensive people who have to protect them and their families from bums trying to take their hard earned money.  Do you know why communism and socialism don’t work?  Because they destroy the productive elements of the nation.

The same is true of a church.  If the majority of the congregation chooses to feed off of a handful of productive people in the ministry; it is only a matter of time before the ministry is consumed.  Some of you may hate communism or socialism when it pertains to economics, but have no problem with spiritual socialism.  You enjoy the fruit of someone else’s labor.

Recognize the productive members

  • Laborers are a few is what Jesus Christ said.
  • Prayer is labour; it is work.
  • Preparing lessons, food for the flock, is work.  Sunday school teachers.
  • Public preaching is work.
  • The labor force determines what gets done.
  • Laborers are sent where they are needed.
    • Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest will send…
    • The book of Acts preaching is needed everywhere so it is going on everywhere.
    • Pastors are not needed everywhere so they only end up in places where believers are assembling.

Respect the work being done

  • It is a fruitful time in the life of a church when laborers in the ministry are officially recognized.  We as a church will have that opportunity in a week in our evening service.  It is a healthy church that highly esteems the laborers in the ministry.
  • Luke 16:15 …for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.  And the opposite is true; that which is highly esteemed of God is abomination among men.  It is a great and healthy thing when God’s flock holds in high regard the people God holds in high regard.
  • A critic may say, we should not respect one person over another.  But you’re not respecting them for who they are, rather, for what they’re doing.
  • …esteem them highly for their work’s sake…
    • God’s recommendation to a church is to hold the people contributing to the ministry in high regard.
    • A healthy church takes care of its laborers.
    • I remember when I was the Area Manager at the oil company I worked for, having the right people in the right place meant everything.  The right person was the person doing the right things.  And when you had the right person in the right place you did everything you could to make them better at their job.  I realized early on that I couldn’t afford to have the wrong people.  So you learn to appreciate those that labor in the business.
    • For their work’s sake, not their tenure
    • For their work’s sake, not their money
    • For their work’s sake, not their family name.
  • To contrast, it is a nail in the coffin of a local church when official recognition is given based on money.  President of the bank is attending our church, so let’s make sure he gets an official position here.
    • It is a nail in the coffin of a local church when official recognition is given based on tenure.
    • It is a nail in the coffin of a local church when official recognition is given based on a family name.  The Levites were the priests based on their family name, but the majority of them had no spiritual qualifications.
  • Again, it is a fruitful time in the life of a church when laborers in the ministry are officially recognized.  In Acts 6 there were seven men recognized by the church in Jerusalem to be official extensions of the ministry.  The next two chapters of Acts deal with two of those men’s ministries: Stephen and Phillip.  Stephen became a martyr and Phillip was called the evangelist: a deacon evangelist.  While the apostles stayed in Jerusalem it would be Philip the deacon who would broaden the ministry to Samaria to the north and Gaza to the south in Acts 8.
  • We have a “Philip” in our midst who is already doing the work of a deacon.  We’ll be able to make that official next Sunday.  Allen’s public preaching, called to be a true evangelist, visitation, and overall help in the ministry.

Reap the benefits

  • And be at peace among yourselves.
  • Peace is a characteristic of the fruit of the spirit.  Fruit is cultivated.
  • Part of the labour is not being a troublemaker in the congregation.
  • Heroes are a big deal these days.  Super heroes.  They have back stories that our kids know.  When you have heroes, these are the people you want to be like.
  • Adults have heroes too.  Maybe it’s a musician, athlete, someone with a particular title.  I remember as a kid we went to several football camps and I loved being around big name people.  And feeling like I was their friend.  Then I started getting serious about the Lord and talent and celebrity meant less and less to me and character and resolve meant more and more to me.  And preachers and missionaries started to become my heroes.  And my Dad, particularly after I got married and started having kids I would think back to some of his ways of handling things and recognize the wisdom in it all.
  • When you respect and recognize the people God respects and recognizes, the result is the spirit bearing fruit in that congregation. Why?  Because when the labourers are supported, that means the work is getting done!