Sunday, April 30, 2006

Warn, Comfort, or Uphold?

1 Thessalonians 5:14--Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

There seems to be inside all of us a desire to accuse, blame, then try to fix another. Rarely do I hear any of us speak about how wrong we are…only how wrong everyone else is. Then, we find a verse like 1 Thess 5:14, and quote just the first part—“…warn the unruly”. So, we set on a mission to warn (fix) people who are not living in ways that we do not agree with. However, we really need to understand what is going on here as it leads us towards abstaining from every appearance of evil.

Warn the unruly-- disorderly, idle persons, not working at all, busying themselves with other men’s matters. Often used to describe a lazy, rebellious soldier. Also used to describe people who did not show up for work, and one who is contentious, quarrelsome, headstrong, and causes strife & division.
These type of people need strong, often sharp (yet loving), reproof for their sloth. Exhort them to work with their own hands, and to get busy working in God’s Kingdom. NOTE: it says warn, not ‘fix’. Warning is our job. ‘Fixing’ is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

Comfort the fainthearted—those who have experienced great loss of any sort. Staggering under the weight of taking up their cross daily, and at the reproaches and persecutions of the world; are almost overcome with the temptations of Satan; and are down and discouraged with the corruptions of their own hearts and minds.
To these, speak a comfortable word; encourage them with the doctrines of grace, and the promises of the Gospel. The overall idea is to speak God’s Word to them in order to calm, console, and encourage.

Uphold the weak-- weak in faith and knowledge. These are to the point of not being able to do it on their on; as it seems with Jesus. They desperately need someone to support them, walk with them, and carry their burden for a while, as directed in Romans 15:1;
It seems that this is where we fail the most. Comforting the fainthearted takes time, upholding the weak takes time and energy. May the Lord help us to be more attentive to the needs of the fainthearted and the weak.

Be patient with all-- towards the unruly, the feebleminded, and the weak. And don’t get these things mixed up. For instance, don’t strongly rebuke the weak or fainthearted. And don’t carry the burden of the lazy, etc. Also, if anyone wrongs you, do not repay evil with evil. But set your mind and heart to pursue only what is good [beneficial] both for yourself and others.

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