There are times in our lives when it all seems too hard. And as a Christian I have thought in the past that it should not be that hard, because I’ve got God on my side.
Even in the early church, Paul found himself…
“…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
Immediately following this, the apostles appointed elders for them.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Elders for them. The Elders were appointed for the disciples in each church. It is not meant that the elders were appointed for the apostles but by the apostles. The elders were for the benefit of the church and were to serve her according to God’s will and purpose.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:1-3
Our church has a Board of Elders. In its wisdom and through God’s guidance, it must make many decisions to help us as a church remain true to the faith. My workplace, Empart, will soon have elders who remain separate to the Board and hold it accountable. The elders will be charged with the responsibility to ensure we remain true to the vision God has set before us and the board is to ensure we execute the mission effectively.
To be an elder is a tall order…
An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
These men are given a great responsibility and will answer to God for their actions. This is a grave undertaking on their part. Being held accountable by God is no light matter.
Their role must be beyond reproach too. And if they are sinning, it becomes very public. This is a very high form of accountability.
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.
1 Timothy 5:19,20
So, while we may not fully understand decisions made by the elders, or even agree with them from time to time, nevertheless we must rely on God, in whom we trust, and the elders in whom He has appointed. In this, they have my respect.
We are well reminded that,
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
1 Timothy 5:17
Now giving double honour is only applicable if the elders direct the affairs of the church well. This doesn’t mean they are infallible and don’t make mistakes. They are human too and are subject to getting it wrong sometimes. But overall if they direct the affairs well and are not tyrants or little dictators (who would respect them then anyways), we should pay them double honour.
This is why I choose to be obedient to my elders, especially when I don’t necessarily agree with a decision they may make from time to time. In this, I pay them double honour.
Further it is always my prayer to thank God for the elders He has appointed, to continue helping our elders in directing the affairs of the church through His Wisdom, Grace and Mercy and that every decision be a Godly one. I always ask that He will protect them from any other influence apart from Him. Through prayer, I pay them double honour.
Will you honour your elders? And if they are serving well, how will you pay them double honour?