Paul summarized what he wanted followers of Jesus to do in two verses. An outline of what he called the church to do contained six points.
They have been essential behavior for Christians for centuries.
1 Thessalonians 5.14-15 – And we urge you, brothers and sisters, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.
See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
Paul urged or called the church to take his side with six key statements.
(1) Admonish the idlers.
The “idlers” are people who are “unruly” or “out of line.” They are out of line because they don’t work and expect others to take care of them.
There are enough lazy co-workers that Google has a separate category of jokes about them. You may be able to relate to these two one-liners.
— Have a seat, standing there watching everyone else work all day must be exhausting!
— I don’t think of you as a coworker because you never do any work.
The last thing a follower of Christ should be known as is a lazy co-worker. The church has a role to encourage a good work ethic among its members.
(2) Encourage the fainthearted.
The act of encouragement includes comforting people who have lost their zest for life.
Encouragers understand what causes people to lose heart and find ways to lift their spirits.
Spending time with hurting people, listening to their cares, and genuinely relating to their concerns is a good way to encourage them.
(3) Help the weak.
The Old Testament lists widows, orphans, and immigrants as the most vulnerable persons in society.
James made this observation: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1.27).
(4) Be patient with all of them.
When we live in a relationship with the Lord, the Spirit produces a character in us that includes the qualities of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and generosity” (Galatians 5.22).
It is easy to become impatient with those who are lazy, disheartened, and weak. However, they are the very people we are to admonish, encourage, and help.
As the Spirit gives us strength, we will do a better job patiently working with them.
(5) See that none of you repays evil for evil.
My friends in Alcoholics Anonymous frequently remind me that unresolved resentments are one of the biggest triggers of relapse.
Think of the 40 conflicts that are taking place in the world today. So much repayment of evil for evil is part of the fabric of war.
God’s purpose for the church is to be an alternative to the world’s behavior. We can show people a better way in many areas.
When we refuse resentment and revenge, we testify to God’s work in our lives.
(6) Always seek to do good to one another and to all.
When confronted with a difficult situation try asking, “What is the most loving thing I can do?”
If we live in self-giving love, we can be assured that the outcome will be the best.
Jesus pictured the style of living in these six admonitions. The Holy Spirit works with us to enable us to accomplish them.
We can count on the Spirit’s help, as we seek to live as Paul taught.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.
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