Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Pastoral Example of Love

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (I Timothy 4:12)

The Pastor’s responsibility: For the past week I have been praying through the details of a pastor’s job description as Paul expressed to Timothy in I Timothy 4:11-16. Today I focused on the pastor’s responsibility to set an example in love. For some of us pastors, there are lots of sight-based reasons to think this could never happen. However, there are even more faith-based reasons to ask for this in prayer and wait in expectation as God answers according to his good, acceptable, and perfect will.[1]

When I read this exhortation to Timothy, that he set an example for the believers in love, the conclusion is simple: every pastor today has enough in the love of Christ, and in the examples of love set by the apostles, and passed on to us through men like Timothy and Titus, that even if we did not experience love in the church from one other person, including all the ways we may have missed out on older men setting an example of love towards us, we still have everything we need to both know and experience the love of Christ for ourselves as fully as it can be experienced this side of heaven, and we have everything we need to set the same example of love in our lives as we see in Christ and his apostles.

In other words, even if all we have is the example Christ, every pastor can set an example of both experiencing that love, and expressing that love to others. Whatever heartaches may stand in the way of experiencing God’s love, or expressing that love to others, the love of Christ will heal us and bind up our wounds[2] so that we come to experience the love of Christ more than ever before, and are enabled by the Spirit to simply live out the same love we have received from God.

The church’s response: to not only follow their pastors’ example of seeking to walk in love (no matter how limited that example may be), but to look for any other contemporary examples of pastors loving the church and see what God is providing for us to help us do the same. And, whenever we feel stuck in the same place of having no immediate examples of loving one another in the church, and we feel like all our examples of people relating one another in the church are bad examples, we still have every reason to encourage ourselves to walk in love towards others simply because, if nothing else, we have Christ.

Here is the will of God for each of us no matter how little we see of love in our pastors’ example, or how we have been treated by any other believers.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The bottom line here is that all of us can imitate God as his beloved children. Even the fact that many believers do not feel this love from God should not drive them to despair so that they give up on everything and run for self-protective cover. Rather, the fact that Christ loving the church on the cross is so well substantiated both in history, and in the divine revelation, means that we should cry out to God for our share in experiencing this to the full.

We do have the example of God, and of Christ, and his apostles, and many others throughout church history, so we can urge ourselves to not only live in the greatest love-relationship with God and his people that is possible this side of heaven, but to also seek to be an example of love to our church family, our enemies, and to the world around us. Whatever God’s word tells our pastors to exemplify for us is intended to lead the church to exemplify the same things towards others.

Prayer for both pastors and congregations:

    Heavenly Father, I want to experience such a filling of the Holy Spirit with the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord that it not only heals everything that is broken within me, but makes me an imitator of the love of God, one who walks in the same love as Christ expressed to me when he laid down his life for me. I ask that I would so fully experience the love of God that is mine in my Savior that I would also become a shining example of this love to everyone around me. I have no doubt that this is impossible for me, but I ask for it in Jesus’ name because I know that even this is possible for you.

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 12:1-2
[2] Psalm 147:3

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