1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 – “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” KJV
The NIV translates the word ‘know’ as ‘respect’. The NKJV translates it as ‘recognize’. The NASB translates it ‘appreciate’. So, as I take this passage to heart I do so with a view of the overall teaching of Jesus and Scripture as I understand it that fruit and accountability are important elements in those who labor among us.
I am to respect, recognize and appreciate those who labor among us I need to know them! I cannot know them without knowing something about them. I need to know not just their doctrine but also their activities and associations. If the KJV translation of ‘know’ is like the biblical ‘know’ in reference to Adam & Eve and husband & wife, it would mean a very deep level of intimacy and that cannot occur on a casual basis. It would require a connection of the heart.
I recall a joke that I heard years ago when an Evangelist wrote to a particular pastor seeking a meeting and in his letter, he said, “I want you to know that I am one of the 5 greatest preachers in America today.” The pastor wrote back and said, “I am sorry but I never schedule anyone that I do not know to speak to my people and since I do not know you and our schedule is full for the year I will have to decline your request but you said you were one of the 5 greatest preachers in America today so I am curious, WHO ARE THE OTHER THREE?” Self-exaltation is not a commendation or recommendation!
We are instructed in Proverbs 27:2 – “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” NKJV In recognizing those who labor among us I need to hear what God says about them and what those who know them say. I need to hear from those they are accountable to and in that light, I can offer respect and show appreciation. That does not mean that you are never to hear someone you do not know for some only pass through but if they are to labor among us that would seem to suggest a more enduring relationship and therefore demonstrate a need to Know Them! Sometimes you only find out who a person is after spending time with them and observing them.
I always tell people, check with those who know me best, and without fail, search the Scripture to see if what I say aligns with God’s Word. If it lines up with God’s teaching accept it and if it does not reject it. If I am in need of a Priscilla and Aquila to lead me into truth more fully then please do so with humility, love, and a real desire to bring me to the place of God’s best not out of a desire to ‘set me straight’ and demonstrate your superiority spiritually. You may be but if that is your attitude it won’t get you far with most people.
As you go through your day be willing for God to put you under the spotlight of examination and be willing for Him to do so with those you labor with and among.
God bless you is my prayer and desire!