But this is a truth for the ages: However we treat God’s messenger, He takes personally.
At the end of Matthew 10 (where the Lord was sending the disciples-in-training on a practice run), Jesus tells them that whoever gives them any kind of support and encouragement, even as simple as a cup of cold water, will be sharing in their reward. (My interpretation of Matthew 10:42.)
–When we listen to God’s messenger, He takes it as though we are listening to Him. We should give the Lord’s servant that kind of respect. (And no, we should not leave our discernment at the door. Not all claiming to be spokesmen for God are qualified to do so. There are many deceivers at work in the land.)
–When we receive God’s messenger, He considers that the same as receiving Him.
–When we reject God’s messenger, it is the same as rejecting Him.
There is no indication the disciples told their audiences this. But they never forgot it.
Carve these truths in stone, because they are rock-solid. Many will find out the hard way at Judgment that the pastoral harassment they have thought was private as they waged their own little anti-preacher vendetta has earned them the wrath of Almighty God.
Someone needs to tell them and warn them.
That’s not the whole story, of course.
It is true—and this needs to be pointed out—that there is a very real sense in which however we treat any of the Lord’s children, He takes personally. “Inasmuch as you do it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you do it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). And my favorite, Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love that you have shown toward His Name in having ministered to the saints, and in still ministering.” He takes it personally when we take care of His children.
Likewise, when Saul of Tarsus was hounding the people of God, Jesus told him he was persecuting Himself (Acts 9:4,5).
And, there’s even a reference in Proverbs to the Lord taking personally the love that we show to poor people (Proverbs 19:17).
But we must not miss the special emphasis the Lord puts on the treatment of His messengers. We remember how Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, tried to pull him down and themselves up by saying, “Moses is taking too much upon himself; God speaks through us too.” But God let them know in a New York minute that Moses’s uniqueness was His doing and they were treading on dangerous ground. (See Numbers 12.)