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Summary: How God’s people are to act towards one another


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Thomasville, NC

(Lighting of the First Candle in Advent)

November 30, 2003

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark.” John 8:12 (GWT)

Have you ever experienced a “blackout”? There was one this past year in New York. Everything stopped!

• All the cars were stopped on the streets because the traffic lights were not working.

• The trains run on tracks with electric switches, so they couldn’t move.

• The store cash registers run on electricity…no shopping!

• Computers went “blink” (and your whole week’s work went down the electronic black hole!).

• Elevators stopped going up or down; it didn’t matter who was in it at the time.

• And, inside each building – there was nothing but darkness.

Electricity blackouts are scary times!

There was a worse blackout once – a time when it was so spiritually-dark that people couldn’t see that their lives were empty without God. And then, a light was turned on. Jesus was born. That’s what the first candle is all about, to remind us how dark things were (and are) without Jesus – and that now, because of that light, we can see just how dark all of life is without Him.

Jesus made sure we would see in that light. He gave us men like Paul the Apostle to shine the light very brightly so we can see our way; he wanted us to know how to act like people of light. In this passage Paul told us how to act like God’s children, and he showed us five kinds of folks we would encounter as we live together and work together in His church:

12Now, brothers, we ask you to respect those people who work hard with you, who lead you in the Lord and teach you. 13Respect them with a very special love because of the work they do with you.

Live in peace with each other. 14We ask you, brothers, to warn those who do not work. Encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with every person. 15Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong. But always try to do what is good for each other and for all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (ICB)

The five kinds of people are described by their names, and how we should treat each of them…

1. “Will Do” – Be Patient and Respectful

Our church is like most churches – about 20% of the people do 150% of the work. Paul said to be patient, because sometimes they are overworked and just can’t get everything done, or they forget some things.

We need to be respectful of these folks. The word “know’ means to understand. Our leaders, Sunday School teachers, Deacons, and all those who do the work at our church are folks you should get to know and understand.

2. “Won’t Do” – Be Patient and Remindful

Paul said the “won’t do” folks are “unruly”. Lazy is a better word. These are those who are part of the church, but they are just as content to let others do all the work. Paul said we should be patient with them, but warn them that they need to turn around and get busy!

3. “Want To” – Be Patient and Encouraging

The “want to” folks are part of the church too – they’re just a bit timid when it comes to getting involved. Some of them have low self esteem, a bad opinion of themselves. That’s not a very good excuse –

Moses had a terrible self image, but God used him. Paul said we should be patient with them, and encouraging, helping them to get involved in working for God.

4. “Can’t Do” – Be Patient and Helpful

“Can’t Do” people are those who have sometimes just plain given up, or have been through so much they just need help more than a job to do. Sometimes its health or poverty or just that someone has treated them so badly they’re too low to lift anyone. Paul said to be patient here too, and help them over the rough spots, so that someday they can be “can do” believers too.

5. “Don’t Know” – Be Patient and a Good Example

The “Don’t Know” people are those who are not part of the church. They simply “Need to Know” Jesus. Be patient, says Paul, and live your life so that the words you use to tell them about Jesus will ring true in their hearts.

Being kind to everybody is a matter for patient people. It takes a lot of effort, good communication and love, but that’s why we have the light Jesus gave us. It shows us the way, lights up the path, and warms others when they get closer.

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