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.
On October 7th and 8th, 2016, Matthew, a hurricane of category 5, swept through North Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, making it the most formidable storm of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
In South Carolina, power outages affected a minimum of 600,000 individuals. Hilton Head Island suffered from prolonged water, sewer, and power service interruptions for a few days, and access to the island was restricted until October 11th. The storm hit the island hard, resulting in the downing of over 120,000 trees, leading to significant property and business damages. The storm generated more than 2.1 million cubic yards of vegetative debris collected afterward.
Upon returning to their homes, the residents were confronted with a scene resembling a war zone. The devastation was massive. In the midst of the chaos, Samaritan’s Purse workers arrived to offer assistance in every way possible, cutting and removing fallen trees and providing aid to the afflicted. Alongside their humanitarian efforts, the workers also offered spiritual service, visiting homes to provide care and support to those affected by the disaster, concluding with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ before departing.
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 as 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 as fainthearted, timid, or fearful is oligopsychos. Oligopsychos comes from oligos – small 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 says, “Give courage to those who have little of it” (UBS).
Help the weak
The Greek word translated as 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.
REFLECT & PRAY
When serving others, we minister to different people differently, depending on their needs. 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. 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 personal challenges for each child of the King. This becomes our motivation for coming alongside others to help them. Our guiding principle to be patient and provide reassuring love.
Every child of the King undergoes the process of developing strength, stability, and reaching maturity in a unique way and pace. The ones who possess strength in certain aspects are accountable for assisting those deficient in those areas. This collaboration of support and assistance is a mutual obligation among all the children of the King. Each individual is expected to communicate the truth in love while continuously becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15).
The art of cultivating patience involves both learning and practicing it. The Greek term rendered as “be patient” is makrothumeo. Makrothumeo is a combination of makros – long and thumos – explosive anger, hot, glowing, boiling anger that quickly flares up and subsides. The word picture here is a slow-burning fuse. 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. It is about remaining cool and calm, even serene. Intense, close human relationships often elicit heated responses. Rather than simply reacting and flipping our lid, we must exercise understanding and forbearance. 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 drew 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.
Developing the skill of being “long-tempered” requires practice. Do not expect instant, overnight changes. But any child of the King can do it.
© Dr. H 2023
2 thoughts on “Serve good ∙”
Such Insightfulness in Today’s Reflections…thank You Holy Spirit for giving these words of wisdom to your Dr H!
Soli Gloria Deo