Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
Every believer is commanded by God to exercise discernment:
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thess 5:21–22)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
Discernment, then, is a requirement of the Christian life. As Dr. John MacArthur has said,
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one's ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living-a certain recipe for compromise. (Source)
How, then, does one cultivate this necessary ability to discern? Through a true and thorough knowledge of the Lord. And how does one obtain this? By prayerfully, diligently and carefully studying and reading the Word of God. This Word is, after all, God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16, 17). But there is another means beyond just personal Bible study by which one hones his discernment, and that is by hearing God's Word preached rightly by faithful men of God.
Throughout the ages, God graciously has blessed His Church with gifted, committed men who have offered their lives to the service of the Lord and the proclamation of His Word. Faithful shepherds of Christ's sheep, they are models of truth and commitment.
While some of these men have been granted an element of renown, the names of most of them will not be known to the masses until all of Christ's own are brought to glory. Yet, whether their name is known worldwide, or only known within the boundaries of their own town, they seek to always preach the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. That a man would seek to spend his earthly days pointing others to Christ, while allowing himself to fade into the background is a great display of humility, and is perhaps one of the greatest characteristics of a good and godly preacher.
Do you have a pastor who is faithful to proclaim the Word of God week after week? Does he approach the text with reverence and humility, expositing and explaining the Scriptures to the flock God has given him? Does he care for his sheep, as evidenced by the teaching and guidance that he offers? If so, dear Christian, you have been given a gift. In an age of pragmatism, apostasy and compromise, stalwart men of God seem to be a rare commodity. If your pastor loves the Lord and seeks to rightly divide His Word each time he enters the pulpit, you must not fail to thank God for this gift. Further, you must not forget to thank your pastor. Each time he stands behind the pulpit and proclaims the truth of God's Word, Jesus Christ is exalted and glorified, the Holy Spirit draws men to Himself, and those who are His find themselves growing in knowledge, in love and in discernment.
God knows the name of each pastor who labors for Him, and no doubt He will reward them one day with those sweet words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." But here, today, the battle is rough. The war for truth rages on and even your local pastor serves on the front lines and finds himself weary and discouraged. Offer this servant of God your gratitude, your prayers and your support. You may be surprised how seldom such things are extended to these faithful men.
Dedicated pastors produce discerning sheep, so dear Christian, encourage your pastor.
*This article originally appeared here.