"And we urge you, brethren, 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. Be at peace among yourselves." 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
What does it mean to know your spiritual leader? Some may think it means to know them as a neighbor – someone you grew up with or went to school with. Others may think it means to know them as a family member. However when Apostle Paul admonished the saints at Thessalonica to know those who labor among them, he had something totally different in mind. The Amplified Bible sheds light on this.
“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 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.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 The Amplified Bible
According to The Amplified Bible, spiritual leaders should be recognized for what they are. Jesus told us how to do this in Matthew 7:1-5.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus said, first remove the beam from your own eye, then you will see clearly enough to remove the mote from your brother’s eye. Often, the scriptures are used as a weapon to criticize one another. To judge means to criticize or condemn. Jesus gave a piece of information that is often overlooked. He said, if you clean your own eye, you will have 20/20 spiritual vision.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
When our hearts are pure, it affects our spiritual vision. To know those who labor among you is to have 20/20 spiritual vision. See them as God sees them. If you can recognize God in their lives and ministries, then you can obey them when they instruct you. You will have confidence that God is leading them. Then you can be comfortable following them as they follow Christ.
We know God speaks to us individually as believers. (John 14:26; 16:13-15) He said, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) But just because He speaks to us individually, that is not the ONLY way He speaks to us. He also speaks to us through our spiritual leaders. That is why we need to know them in the Lord – so that we can come to EXPECT God to speak to us through them.
"Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, 'Look at us.' So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God." Acts 3:1-8
The lame beggar who laid daily at the temple gate that was called Beautiful, asked Peter and John for money as they were entering the temple. The beggar looked at Peter and John with expectation. He expected to receive money from them. However, God had something else in mind. Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
The beggar did not receive what he expected. Nevertheless he expected to receive something. What he got was healing.
We should expect to receive from God through our spiritual leaders. If we know the Lord speaks to us through them it will be easier to obey. When we know our spiritual leaders, we will receive what the Lord has for us to be given to us through them. Then the Lord can bless us through them.