Living As A Church Family
Living as a Church family
1 Thessalonians 5:14 "And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all."
Church is people. People have problems. God added us together and intends that His people relate to one another in a local body in order to help one another.
Paul mentions three areas of problems that Christians can have. Some are idle. This word meant 'disorderly, or out of order'. This had a rather general meaning of being out of step or out of line. It also was used for those who refused to work for a living. Paul also wrote about this in 2 Thess. 3:6-12. The church was to take care of its own, but some apparently were taking advantage of the generosity and freeloading. Included in this passage was being out of line by being a busybody.
The second group is those who are weary, fainthearted. As the original word only appears here in the New Testament it is a bit difficult to be exact on its meaning. The two favored ideas are that these are 'timid as to their personality' or they are discouraged by the events in their lives. The two can be tied together. The burdens of life have overwhelmed them. They are having problems facing life as a faithful disciple. Within 1 Thessalonians we can see the possibility of being discouraged by persecution (2:14-16), various trials and temptations (3:5), and the death of loved ones (4:13-18).
The third group is those who are 'weak'. This can be used of those who are weak physically, that is, sick or infirm. It was also used of those who were weak in faith. Faith does exist in differing strengths. Some face monumental obstacles without doubting or faltering. Many struggle with the problems of evil, persecution, and doubts.
All three groups are brothers in the Lord. They all are in need of growth in faith and character. Yet Paul's instructions on how to deal with them show that they are to be dealt with differently.
For those who are idle we are to admonish. This is also part of the elders' responsibility according to vs. 12. The word means to warn, rebuke, and lecture. We must remember that the goal is the salvation of their soul. Such admonishing must come from a spirit of love and concern. Such confrontation has its dangers for it is not always accepted. Yet it must be done.
For those who are fainthearted we are to encourage. Paul had used this same word to describe his relationship with them (2:11-12). Sometimes this is as 'simple' as being a cheerleader for them. "You can do it." "Come on..". We have no problem understanding this concept when we are rooting for someone in an athletic contest. Let us be as enthusiastic about our brethren being able to finish the race set before them. Sometimes we can just run with them. A word of cheer can restore the heart. Proverbs 12:25: "Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." Proverbs 25:11: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."
For those who are weak we are to help. This is an interesting word that basically means to 'hold on to'. As someone who is having problems walking, we can grab on to them, support them, hold them up. So it is with one's faith. They need to be strengthened. They need someone to support them as they walk in the light.
Paul ended this with be patient unto all. Patient comes from a word that literally would translate as 'long tempered'. It is the opposite of 'short tempered'. It means being able to do the needed action without getting angry. It means to do it again and again without building up hostility. It means to be willing to repeat it times without number without growing tired (Gal. 6:9). It will require forgiving, perhaps 70 times 7 times.
We are a church, a family, a team, a group of brethren bound together in a common faith. We each of us helping the other we will make it faithfully unto the end.