As this letter closes we find some specific instructions for making sure our church stays healthy. Within the church, there are people with a variety of challenges in their lives. Paul gives direction to the strong and mature in the church for how to handle these people with truth and grace.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NLT)
First, we are to warn those who are not living like God wants. The word lazy here describes a soldier that is out of formation or neglecting duties. We are to come alongside and strongly challenge these people to get back on track. For those who are timid and fearful, we are tasked to show them words and examples of encouragement and how to be bold and face life challenges with faith. The weak in the church are those who struggle with their faith and battle doubts or habits that easily derail them. These people are susceptible to wallowing in guilt and shame so we need to tenderly care for them like a shepherd with a weak sheep. Finally, the strong believers are to be patient with everyone in the church. This particular word “patient” means to hang in there with them for the long haul instead of quickly giving up on them for not getting it together more quickly. The mature in the church are challenged to prove they really are by modeling their patience after God’s.
Let’s get busy!