Summary: We have a spiritual capacity, but whether we are among the "strong" or the "weak" in this sense, we are called to help one another and be patient with all.

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Spiritual Capacity

TCF Sermon

April 20, 2008

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB77) And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

1 Thess 5:14 (NLT) 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.

Encouragement. Help. Patience. After the initial admonition to warn of idleness, or laziness, this is what this passage of scripture is urging us to do.

In some ways, this passage could be seen as a follow-up to what we looked at a few weeks ago – dying to self – taking up your cross to follow Jesus. Because I think we explored, at least implicitly, the warning about being idle, this morning, I want to focus on these other things – encouraging the timid, or some versions say fainthearted, helping the weak, and patience with everyone.

The truth is these things more often than not take a death to self to accomplish. I want to explore an idea with you a little bit this morning related to helping the weak and fainthearted.

Capacity illustration

I’ve been thinking about this word “capacity.” Not necessarily in physical terms, as we just witnessed, but in spiritual and emotional terms. I believe we all have a spiritual and emotional capacity. This includes the amount of stress, the kinds of challenges we face, and just plain how much we can handle.

Here’s a dictionary definition of capacity. As I read this, think of how these ideas might be translated into the emotional and spiritual realm:

1. the ability to receive or contain: This hotel has a large capacity.

2. the maximum amount or number that can be received or contained; cubic contents; volume: The inn is filled to capacity. The gasoline tank has a capacity of 20 gallons.

3.power of receiving impressions, knowledge, etc.; mental ability: the capacity to learn calculus.

4. actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand: He has a capacity for hard work. The capacity of the oil well was 150 barrels a day. She has the capacity to go two days without sleep.

I, for one, don’t have much capacity to learn calculus. Eric Dunn, on the other hand, probably does. But does that mean I cannot learn it at all? What it might mean is that Eric has a greater capacity to learn and understand and apply calculus, than I do. But the reality is, in many, if not most, issues of mental capacity, I can grow in my capacity and understanding, and so can Eric.

Now, of course, there are those individuals who have some sort of learning disability who might never really be able to learn calculus. But for the most part, all of us can grow in what we know, and not stay where we are in terms of knowledge.

I think this is even more true when it comes to spiritual things. So, even though we may say that Eric has a greater capacity for calculus than I do, we cannot say that I can’t grow in what little I have.

Let’s move that, for a moment, to the emotional and spiritual realm. Do you think it’s true that some of us have a greater capacity for handling emotional or spiritual stress and strain than others? Do you think some of us might have a greater capacity to deal in faith and strength with the challenges, the workload, the trials of life, than others?

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