Tend The Flock
Peter exhorted the elders to "tend the
flock of God which is among you." (1 Peter 5:2.) The name
"shepherd" or "pastor" also connotes this duty.
The work of tending the flock requires that
elders do three things: 1. Lead, guide, and direct the flock in "paths
of righteousness"; this was discussed in the topic on "exercising
over-sight." 2. Feed the church; this duty has been discussed already.
3. Watch in behalf of souls, or protect the flock from the adversary;
this duty we discuss now.
Enemies that would divide, scatter and
devour the flock are lurking always. "The devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8.) Error
sometimes appears in places the least expected. It may appear in the
pulpit, in the class-room literature, or in the visual aids being used.
Paul said to the elders of the church at
Ephesus, "I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in
among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall
men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after
them. Wherefore watch ye." (Acts 20:20-31.) This and many other
passages teach that "speaking perverse things," teaching the doctrines,
precepts and theories of men, is the most destructive weapon used by the
adversary. In order to protect the souls of their charge from erroneous
doctrines and theories, the elders must acquaint the members with those
scriptures that condemn the false doctrines.
About sixty years ago the question of a
church's contributing to a missionary society was disturbing the
brotherhood. The elders of a certain church determined among themselves
to study that question, and then teach the truth on it to their charge.
Of course, they soon came up with the right answer. They began
immediately to teach the church those passages of scripture that set
forth the truth on that question, and those passages that condemned the
error. Those elders knew how to watch in behalf of souls.
About thirty years ago the question of a
church's contributing to a Bible college was disturbing some
congregations. The elders of a certain church decided among themselves
to search the scriptures and learn the will of God on that issue. They
studied carefully and prayerfully; they read and listened to arguments
by brethren on both sides; they learned the truth, and then taught that
truth to their charge. They knew how to tend the flock of God.
About four years ago the question of a
church's contributing to a human benevolent society, such as the Red
Cross, or the Infantile Paralysis Foundation, or Childhaven, or the
Damon Runyon Cancer Fund, was disturbing the church in some quarters.
The elders of a certain congregation determined to discover the truth on
that issue. They studied it diligently; they sought information from
every available source; they listened to arguments on both sides. Of
course, they learned the truth, and having learned it they did all they
could to make the church acquainted with the passages of scripture that
set forth the truth and condemned the error.
Today, the question of many churches'
sending contributions to a sister church for a work to which all the
churches are related equally is disturbing the brotherhood. Every
eldership in the world should make a careful and prayerful study of this
issue of centralized control and oversight of work and resources; elders
should seek information from every available source; they should study
the arguments of men on both sides. If they will search diligently for
the truth, observing the five indispensable rules of Bible study set
forth in this discourse, they will come up with the right answer. Then
they should teach that truth to the church. They cannot do less, and
obey the injunction, "Tend the flock of God."
Worthy Of Honor
Faithful elders have a right to expect the
cooperation of every member of the church. The apostle to the Hebrews
gave these orders, "Remember them that had the rule over you, men that
spake unto you the word of God"; "Obey them that have the rule over you,
and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that
shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief:
for this were profitable for you." (Heb. 13:7, 17)
No charge should be received against him,
except at the mouth of two or three witnesses (1 Tim.
and his burdens should not be made
heavier by thoughtless and unjust criticism. (1 Tim. 5:1) "But we
beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among, and are over you
in the Lord, and admonish you: and to esteem them exceeding highly in
love for their works sake." (1 Thess. 5:12, 13) To fail to
respect the faithful elder for his work's sake, is to fail to respect
the word of God.
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