Monday, August 11, 2008

SOAP - 8/11/08 (1 Thess 5:12-22)


1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no on repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."



vs. 14

"We strongly encourage all of you to do the following. Help those who are idle see the folly in being so, encourage those whose faith is weak, and support and strengthen those who are weak in every other way. Above all, have patience with everyone."

What is God saying?

One word comes to mind. LOVE. The greatest commandment of all is simply to love. Everything in this passage is an action of love.

What is love though? We live in a culture that mistakes an emotional feeling for true love. Love does involve feelings, but more importantly, love is action. It is doing the right and best thing for another person. So it shouldn't be any surprise that Paul says "admonish the idle." The word admonish, as defined by Websters, is "a: to indicated duties or obligations to [and] b: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner."

There are many reasons why people would have been idle. Each case of idleness needs to be examined to figure out how to respond. Some were idle because of pure laziness. Laziness is a disease of selfishness. Christ died so that we wouldn't have to be bound to our selfish behavior. For others, as can be seen in Peter's second letter, laziness was a result of a belief that Jesus was returning very soon within their life times. Even then Peter recognizes that the root of such thinking is selfish. He goes on to exhort the letter's readers to " diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace." In other words "Do something in line with what you believe!!"

Today we are all tempted to be lazy. Some of us think we have plenty of time to tell others about Jesus, but reality may say otherwise. We need to encourage one another to work hard in telling the world about Him. If we really love one another, we won't let each other get away with being lazy.

God tells us to "encourage the faint-hearted," or those who have weak faith. True love should compel us to constantly be encouraging one another. All of us go through periods where our faith is not as strong as we desire it to be. We are human beings battling a human nature that tends to give into selfish desires. Sometimes it just seems easier to gripe and moan and complain about our situation and harder to have faith that God is in control. If God wanted us to go at life alone then he would have only created one of us, but that wasn't his plan. We need each other, if for nothing more then to be an encouragement during life's roughest parts.

To love on another also means to allow our strengths to compensate each other's weakness. We can be weak in so many different ways. We can be weak spiritually, physically, socially, financially, etc... God has given us gifts to use in conjunctions with the rest of the body. Our gifts are to edify our brothers and sisters in the body. Gifts are not just those that are listed in Scripture. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. The main point here is that if our gift can help stregnthen then we need to do it.

The phrase here is more literally translated "hold fast to the weak." A weak person can hold themselves up. It takes someone who is stronger. God wants us to use our gifts to make each other stronger.

Above all we are to be patient with one another. All of us know that is extremely easy to get irritated with those who seem to be constantly in need. This person needs to be corrected, that person needs encouragment, this person needs help... In reality, aren't we all very needy people? God is so patient with us. We really need to be patient with others. Does this mean we allow them to take advantage of us? By no means!! What it means is we look at every situation as if we have never seen the situation before and we do what is right and what is best for the individual.

What is God saying to me?

I fail miserably at doing any of this, especially when it comes to my own family. Being a pastor means I work with a wide variety of people. I get to the point where I believe "I've seen it all." When I come to that point I really become blind to the real needs of others. I need a constant renewal going on in my heart. I so desperately need to see people the way God sees them. Especially my children.


How can I be more loving especially in the ways mentioned here? How can I admonish the idle, encourage those whose faith is weak, help those who are in need and above all be patient? Only through the grace and power of God!!!

One of the things I think I can, and do need to, work on is being more encouraging to my children and wife. Maybe I should say be more patient, but I think both of these can work hand in hand. I need to step back and take a look at what my family does. I need to see the good and encourage the good. I need to see the bad and first be patient because patience will help me to help them.


Father. All I want to ask today is for your power to help me put myself aside and put others first. I want to be like you. Thank you for listening to my prayer.

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