Serve good

Serve good

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. – 1 Thessalonians 5:14

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

 16 Rejoice always.

 17 Never stop praying.

 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Matthew, a category 5 hurricane, was the most powerful storm of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. It roared through North Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina on October 7 and 8, 2016.

Across South Carolina, at least 600,000 individuals lost power. Hilton Head Island experienced widespread water, sewer and power outages for several days, and the only road onto the Island was not re-opened to residents until October 11. It is estimated that over 120,000 trees were downed on the Island, causing extensive tree-strike damage to residences and businesses. Over 2.1 million cubic yards of vegetative debris generated by the storm were collected.

Residents returned to find what looked like a war zone. The devastation was massive. Into this turmoil came workers from Samaritan’s Purse. They cut and cleared trees. They helped in any and every way they could. They rendered aid to those who were so devastated. Their humanitarian work was followed up by spiritual service. They comforted and cared for the population by visiting their homes. And before they left, they shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

They served good!

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ share a mutual responsibility to help those who need special care and attention.  We are to deal with each person according to their individual needs.

The apostle Paul provides specific instructions on how to serve good. He spells out how to care for those with “special needs.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Admonish the idle

The Greek word translated idle is ataktos. Ataktos originally described a soldier who had left the ranks. It came to mean undisciplined, unruly, careless, or out of line. It came to refer to those that tend to go their own way and not follow godly principles. Rather than being merely lazy, they are disorderly and undisciplined. Their idleness is characterized by rebellious irresponsibility or willful sluggishness (Black).

Encourage the fainthearted

The Greek word translated fainthearted, timid, or fearful is oligopsychos. Oligopsychos comes from oligossmall or little, and psyche soul, mind. The fearful are literally those whose souls are small. These despondent or discouraged folks naturally almost instinctively fear the worst. They are fainthearted, fretful, and worried. They tend to look on the dark side of things and want to give up when the going is tough (Wiersbe). Those with large souls, strong souls must help those with small souls to be brave, stand tall, endure, and overcome.

One translation renders it, “give courage to those who have little of it” (UBS).

Help the weak

The Greek word translated weak is asthenes. It refers to those who are without strength. It may be those who are literally sick due to a bodily ailment. It may also be used figuratively for those who are ineffective, feeble, inadequate, or lack strength and vitality. Here it refers to those who are weak spiritually and lack spiritual strength and faith. They need to be warmly and firmly held and comforted.


When serving others, we minister to different people in different ways, depending upon what they need most at the time. Some need stern warnings; others need comfort; some need help. But everyone needs patience, for we all fall short in many ways (Stanley).

Father, as I reflect upon Your loving care and compassion for me, I realize that You always know the condition of my heart and soul and that You are there for me to provide exactly what I need. Encourage me to learn this skill and practice it in helping others.


The Father designs a personal burden for  of His children. This becomes our motivation for coming alongside others to help them. Our prime directive is to be patient and provide reassuring love.

Each child of the King develops strength, and stability, and grows to maturity in their own way and time. Those who are strong in some areas are responsible to help others who are weak in those areas. It is a mutual, reciprocal thing among all of the Father’s children. Each of us is to speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15).

This is done by learning and practicing the fine art and skill of patience. In Greek, the term rendered “be patient” is makrothumeo. Makrothumeo is derived from makros – long and thumos explosive anger, hot, glowing, boiling anger that bursts forth and soon subsides. The word picture here is long-fused anger. In English, we speak of someone who is “short-tempered.” Makrothumeo is just the opposite, someone who is “long-tempered.”

It “carries the sense of ‘suffering long’ with regard to someone else. It is therefore the appropriate word to use regarding human relationships” (Fee). This word is not about our circumstances, it is about our relationships. Intense, close human relationships often elicit heated responses. Rather than simply reacting and flipping our lid, we are to exercise understanding and forbearance. It is about remaining cool and calm, even serene. Paul is exhorting us to practice a more excellent way, we are to be patient, and long-suffering with others.

“Be patient with everyone may be expressed idiomatically, for example, ‘speak softly to everyone,’ ‘move slowly with everyone,’ or negatively, ‘do not speak sharply to anyone,’ or ‘do not shout at anyone’” (UBS).

The Father enveloped us with His patience as He has drawn us into a personal intimate relationship with Him. We are to be patient with others in the same way. In our own strength, this is impossible. But things that are impossible with people, are possible with the Father.

To develop the skill of being “long-tempered” requires practice. Do not expect instant, overnight changes. But any child of the King can do it.


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