Summary: A sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23 (Adapted from an outline by Wayne Norton)

Sermon for 4/25/2004

1 Thessalonians 5:14-23

The Heart that God Uses


A young mother went to her doctor for an appointment. She took her little five-year-old son with her and made no attempt to restrain him from ransacking an adjoining room. Finally, after hearing a bunch of bottles being rattled, she said to the doctor, “Doctor, I hope you don’t mind little Johnny being in the next room.”

The doctor replied, “No, its okay. He’ll be quiet when he gets to the poisons.”

That little boy’s behavior was bad. And, of course, any mother who would allow such behavior is not performing her motherly duties either.

Bad behavior is not a good thing! It is not good in the world or in the Lord’s church!


A. Be at peace among yourselves vs. 13. Didn’t discuss a lot last week. A Brother gave me some good thoughts last week on this. Church strife destroys leaders physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It makes leadership a great chore instead of a delight and this is no advantage to us. We are to be peacemakers. However, if all that an elder is doing is putting out fires between warring Christians, it is a difficult task. It is like trying to break up a fight. The one trying to break it up usually gets hurt.

B. Vs. 14

1. NKJ- Warn those who are unruly. NIV- Warn those who are idle. Amplified- those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; Idleness does lead to being unruly. However, the word literally means from the Greek those who are unruly, insubordinate, careless, and out of line.

a. It is applied to a soldier who would not keep rank but insisted on marching his own way.

b. While the loving atmosphere of the church family encourages individual development, there are some things we all must do in the same way. If we do not have rules and standards in the family, we have chaos.

c. Rules and traditions in a family must never be so overemphasized that creativity is stifled. But it is a sorrow to see a child rebel against the rules, abandon traditions and standards, and think that this kind of life-style shows freedom and maturity.

d. This kind of attitude in the church family causes arguments and splits.

e. It reminds me of those who rebelled at my college against simple rules. Have to get on some about hair, clothing styles, etc. Some left because of these rules.

2. NKJ- comfort the fainthearted. NIV- encourage the timid.

a. When the going gets tough, these people don’t get going, they quit.

b. All of the persecution may have caused them to be tempted to quit the whole thing.

c. We must get close to them and encourage them. Not yell at them from a distance. Make things worse.

3. Help the weak

a. This can refer to any weakness: physical, moral, or spiritual.

b. The emphasis here seems to be upon the spiritual. These needed help to develop strong spiritual muscles.

c. Don’t let them fall! Help them to stand and teach them how to walk.

4. Be patient with everyone.

a. It takes patience to raise a family. That weaker member who demands much help may one day be a choice leader, so never give up.

b. Everyone needs warning, comforting, encouraging, and help from time to time.

c. However, there are some who never seem to grow up. I thank God for such people. Those people help to enlarge us and make us stronger in our faith. They test us and try us and they do this for years and years, those outside and inside the church. It is wonderful to have them because they develop Christian character in us. It is a shame for them but it is a wonderful way for us to grow in self-control, perseverance, godliness (think of what God puts up with from us), and brotherly kindness.

d. We do not want to be unruly, giving up, and weak for all of our lives. WE don’t have to be.

C. God has given us a new heart through Jesus Christ. (Ezek 36:26 NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:27 NIV) And I will put my Spirit in you. Through Christ and the salvation he brings, we have a new heart.

D. He is still working on us to make us what we ought to be. However, to have a new heart is the start.

E. We want to be a heart that God uses. WE want to be God’s instrument to warn the unruly, to comfort the fainthearted, and to help the weak. We don’t want to be on the receive end of this. We want to be used by God to do His will.

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