The church is like a wagon train slowly winding its way across the desert.? It’s composed of all sorts – old, young, strong, frail, brave, timid, diligent, lazy.
There’s weak Willie, who fears he’ll never conquer his sin.? He hates it, fights it, but keeps failing. You always give him your best faith-bolstering verses, he puts on a give-me-your-best-shot-devil smile, and struts off walking tall.? Next time you meet, he’s failed again and you must assure him he’s not condemned and God’s given him the power of the Spirit to walk in victory.
There’s fainthearted Fran, who has suffered, is weary, and whose faith is at an all-time low.? She sometimes doubts God’s goodness.? You encourage her to recall God’s faithfulness and promises, but she seems stuck in the Slough of Despond.
Then there’s Billy idle, who’s lazy.? Like some of the Thessalonians.? Thinking Christ would return soon, why get a job?
The church is full of Willies, Frans, and Billys – weak, fainthearted, idle, and everything in between.? We all need all sorts of help, encouragement, and exhortation – mixed with large doses of patience.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all (1 TH 5.14).
We need to be patient with others because we’re all so slow to change.? It’s easy to become impatient when you meet week after week with someone and see little progress.? Willie doesn’t reject your counsel – he truly wants to change – but he’s weak.? He takes two steps forward and one back.? Fran doesn’t want to be fainthearted, she just is.? She needs you to KEEP ON patiently encouraging her.
My problem is I don’t WANT to be patient. I want to meet with someone once, fire a couple verses at him, and send him away a powerhouse.?? I don’t want to have to bear with slow growth.
But God places weak people in our lives for OUR sanctification, not just theirs.? We too need to grow -? in patience.? And there’s no way to get patience other than being placed in settings where we need it.? And remember, Christ is far more long-suffering with our slowness to change than we will ever be with anyone else.
The church isn’t like a herd of wildebeasts, thundering ahead, not noticing or stopping when a lion picks a weak one of us off.? Our goal is that no one be left behind the wagon train.? We need patience for the long haul.? Be patient with THEM ALL.
photo by elh70