And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 TH 5.14
God saves all kinds of people, puts them together in his church and says ?Now love one another.? The family of God includes those who have walked with God for years and those who are still rubbing their eyes in amazement that God saved them two weeks ago. God joins weak and strong, and tells us to live together in a way that will glorify him.
Sometimes we need to admonish others.
Apparently there were those in Thessalonica who weren?t working. Perhaps they’d?quit their jobs believing?Jesus? return was imminent. ?Perhaps they were simply lazy, but?Paul says to admonish, them, warn them. Exhort them to work, provide for their families, and be diligent.
But be patient with them. It?s easy to feel annoyed at someone who?s lazy. When you get up early, endure rush hour traffic, slog away at your your job, put up with a demanding boss, then come home to find that this brother sleeps till noon and then wants to borrow money from you it?s easy to be irritated. Talk to him. Admonish him. But be patient with him.
Notice that out of the three types of people Paul mentions, two thirds are ?fainthearted? and ?weak.? Apparently, more Thessalonian believers were tempted to discouragement than idleness. That?s been the case in my experience pastoring over the years.
Paul says, ?encourage the fainthearted? – the?discouraged, feeble, and timid. They want to give up. They?re fearful. They have a hard time having faith. You spend a couple hours encouraging them, they leave confident and trusting the Lord, then the next day they?re back as discouraged and unbelieving as ever. Be patient with them.
It?s easy to become frustrated with the fainthearted, especially if you don?t struggle like they do. God has given some of us a gift of faith or we?ve grown in faith over the years so we?re able to trust God when he takes us through flood and fire. Others don?t have this kind of faith. They’re?constitutionally and continually ?fainthearted.? They can?t seem to believe God?s promises. They want to. They try to. They do for a while. Then they sink again. Don?t look down on them. Bear with their sinkings. Be patient with them.
Other believers are ?weak.? They don?t have much spiritual strength. They fail repeatedly and can?t seem to conquer sin. Be patient with them.
It?s easy for those who are strong to judge others out of their strength.
My dad was a great guy but just couldn?t understand why people had such a hard time quitting smoking. ?I smoked for twenty years, then one day I just decided to quit and I did. Never had another cigarette after that. You just decide to quit and you quit.? It wasn?t so easy for me. I?d only used tobacco for a few years when I quit as a young believer. It was so hard for me. I failed repeatedly and it took me quite a while to finally quit.
It may be sexual sin or bulimia or anger, but many of us are weak in some area. Those who have never struggled with a particular sin can be tempted to look down on those who do. It?s easy to be impatient with someone if you haven?t been through it. ?Rather than just telling someone to buck up, get over it, just quit or just do it, Paul says ?help the weak.? Help them with prayer. Help them with encouragement or gently holding them accountable. And be patient with them when they fail. Jesus will help them. They?ll grow. Maybe slowly, but they?ll grow.
God has been incredibly patient and longsuffering with me. How can I not be patient and longsuffering with others? Jesus has put up with my failures, unbelief, laziness, and multipe weaknesses for years, yet he?s never given up on me. How can I not be do the same for others?