1Thessalonians 5:20 “Despise not prophesyings.”
It’s interesting that the opposite of “despise not” would be to highly honor. We are to esteem preaching, i.e., we are to highly regard preaching. That’s what the Bible says. We are to place a premium on Bible preaching as we regard it with pleasure and not with contempt. The world regards preaching with contempt. Lost people despise preaching. “Don’t preach to me” is their mantra. “He’s too preachy,” they say. The very word “preach” and the activity of preaching, especially the preaching of the gospel of Christ, is despised by the world. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness… .” The idea is that of a “ho hum” type of foolishness, which means that the reaction to the message of the cross by those who are perishing is, “Oh, ho hum, yeah, whatever, I’m all set.”
“Despise not prophesyings.” The idea of “prophesyings” would be the discourses or sermons from the sacred Scriptures which declare the purposes of God by warning sinners, comforting the afflicted, expounding future events, or reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the saints. So the reference is to preaching, and the church at Thessalonica, and subsequently every New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ, is cautioned not to undervalue preaching.
On the other hand, if we esteem, that is, if we highly regard preaching because we recognize the importance that God places on it, and we understand the important role that it plays in our lives and walk with Christ, then we will conduct ourselves appropriately in the assembly during the preaching. By this I mean that we will behave in a manner which will augment, or complement, the preaching and not in a manner which will diminish or detract from it. How can we do that?
By this I mean that we ought to be well-mannered and reverent during our services. After all, we are “the house of God, the church of the living God,” 1 Tim. 3:15. The church service is a serious time. It is a time when we as a church meet with God. And when we meet with God you sure don’t want to be snoozing, so you ought to be rested as much as possible when you come to assemble, and in my opinion you shouldn’t be sipping on coffee or Coke, snacking on food, chewing on gum, texting, cracking your fingers, or clipping your nails. It’s not the time for those things. It’s time to give our undivided attention to God and His Word. We need to show God respect by being well-mannered and reverent during service time.
If we are to augment, or complement, the preaching, and not diminish or detract from it, then we will–
Be Thoughtful of the Preacher
Don’t do things that will distract the preacher. The best way to be thoughtful of the preacher is by everyone giving him your undivided attention and by the men expressing their agreement with him by saying “amen” when it’s appropriate.
Be Thoughtful of the Message
We should listen to Bible preaching as if we were listening to the Lord Jesus. Now I’m not saying that the preacher is of the same status as the Lord, but I am saying that when he is preaching the Word of God we should direct our thoughts and attention to what is being said as if the Lord were saying it. If we do not deem preaching as of utmost importance and listen carefully to it with hearts willing to submit, then we won’t get anything from it. Be thoughtful of the message.
Be Thoughtful of Others
We need to be cognizant of the distraction that we can be to others even when we are doing things which are not necessarily wrong. For example, even the noise produced by the unwrapping of a mint or a cough drop when not done carefully and quietly can gather the attention of those around you. While things such as this may seem trivial, it is a fact that the forces of evil use such things to direct the minds of people from hearing Bible preaching, and we want to facilitate the hearing of preaching, not hinder it.
We need to work at being thoughtful of others. Do everything possible to avoid trips out of the auditorium. Use the restroom before the service. Send your children to the restroom before the service. There are a multitude of things which can happen during any given service which may be distracting, and we shouldn’t add to those when we can avoid it.
Some years ago I was preaching and I heard a clicking noise and I noticed that several people were distracted. Finally it struck me that someone was clipping their fingernails! Without even thinking I blurted out, “Who is clipping their fingernails?” I am sure that the woman was embarrassed. I didn’t mean to embarrass her, but then again, perhaps someone so insensitive to others, and so disrespectful of preaching, needed to be embarrassed.
Listen, preaching is the means by which God has chosen to save the lost. 1 Cor. 1:21 says, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Also, preaching is a means by which God has chosen to edify His churches—“Despise not prophesyings.” Thank God for preaching! Esteem preaching! The purposes of God are accomplished through it.