Summary: Paul’s exhortation to each of us is simply to give proper care and feeding to the body of Christ.
Care and Feeding of the Body
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:14
The body of Christ is made up of “brethren,” that is to say, “brothers and sisters.” Because God is a loving Father, all who join his family become fellow heirs with Christ and so are children of God (Romans 8:16-17.) Paul used term brethren (the Greek word adelphotes is translated various ways) five times in the last section of his letter to the church in Thessalonica (5:12, 14, 25, 26, and 27). Clearly, Paul wanted to leave these final instructions to all the believers so that they could continue to build one another up (5:11). This verse focuses on three types of brethren which may be found in any local church and how to relate to them. The instructions are as vital to churches today as they were in the first century.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB) We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
A.We urge you, brethren
1.This earnest entreaty is addressed to the whole church. The duties assigned are such as pertain to all Christians and should not be left to be performed by ministers only.
2.We have often seen that the Christian life is compared to warfare and the whole phraseology of this verse is military; we’ll examine each term in turn.
B.All Christians have four ongoing and continuous responsibilities to one another:
1.Admonish the unruly
a.In the Greek, literally “Rank-breakers.”
1)Those who are out of their ranks, and do not care to perform the work and duty of a soldier (lazy or idle.)
2)These people set themselves outside the prescribed pattern for the church; everyone else would be working and serving, but they would not.
3)Either out of apathy or rebellion these brothers or sisters resist involvement with the work of the church. They choose to never go beyond the audience mentality.
b.These not only will not do the work prescribed, they often meddle in what the others are doing.
1)2 Thessalonians 3:11 calls these people “busybodies”. We might call them “armchair Christians.”
2)Because they are not engaged in productive activities, they may tend to pick at and criticize others.
c.The Greek term of admonish means to literally “to put sense into in light of the consequences” (talk some sense into them.)
d.The unruly (idle, lazy) need to be warned to get back in among the believers and use their God-given gifts in service for the kingdom.
2.Encourage the fainthearted
a.In the Greek: those of “little souls”; those who, on the eve of a battle, are dispirited, because of the perceived power of the enemy, and their own feeble and unproved state.
1)The lazy need to be warned, but the “timid” need to be encouraged.
2)The Greek word translated “encourage” (paraklesis) means to come alongside with helpful instruction and insight.
3)We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with faint of heart in solidarity and support.
b.The fainthearted, or “timid”, are the fearful people who lack confidence perhaps in themselves or even in their faith.
1)They may be discouraged or worried by the challenges of living a Christian life. These people need loving instruction from their fellow believers to calm their fears and to build their confidence.
2)Encourage them with the knowledge of our secure salvation; with the certainty of the love of Jesus; with the conviction of our all-powerful God working to the good of all His children.
3)Let them know that the battle is not theirs, but the Lord’s; and that those who trust in Him shall over come.
3.Help the weak
a.The Greek word translated as “help” means to “take tender care”.
1)This means to reinforce or prop up them that are weak; strengthen those wings and companies that are likely to be most exposed, that they be not overpowered and broken in the day of battle.
2)It means to hold on to these people, wrap arms around them, and cling to them.
b.Those in need of help:
those weak in faith, Read Romans 14:1-4
those in need (such as financial need),
those who might be struggling with the sin.
c.In James 5:14 the word translated as “sick” is the same one translated here as “weak.”
1)These might be struggling, needy, or immature Christians who need the arms of strong fellow believers to pray for them, guide them, give them support, and let them know they are not alone.
Galatians 6:2 (NASB) Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
4.Be patient with everyone
a.Finally, being patient with everyone is the glue that holds relationships together.
1)There is no believer who does not need the exercise of patience “toward” him; there is none to whom a believer should not to show it
2)In any group where a variety of people come together, godly patience will be required of everyone.