Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
The next two verses begin a list of conduct of living for the Thessalonian church. Paul gives them steps to order their Christian lives by. He says:
- warn those who are unruly/rebellious,
- comfort the fainthearted/anxious,
- uphold the weak in spirit,
- be patient with all
- See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone,
- always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Wow! That’s quite a list! Quite frankly, a list of not so easy things to do. A list of things that do not come naturally. However, these actions can be cultivated to become second nature. All it takes is a little practice. I want to make a note here that all these items are to be done in love, not with hostility. For example, warning those who are rebellious is not to be started with the phrase “I’m warning you!” It is in the attitude of coming along beside someone to walk through life and encouraging them to soften their heart, especially toward the things of God and His people. Gently help them to see God’s great love for them and let that be the inspiration for breaking down walls.
Comforting the fainthearted, upholding the weak and being patient with everyone can easily be done in love. By preparing your heart ahead of time to be aware of people in these conditions, you can already be in a position to be compassionate when they step into your life.
Don’t repay evil for evil, but rather pursue what is good for you and those around you. Pay back doesn’t accomplish anything and certainly doesn’t encourage others to walk closer to God. When you feel a wrong has been done to you or someone you love, be prepared to first of all forgive, second recognize that hurtful act came out of brokenness. Thirdly, the love of God is the only response strong enough to break through.
Today I want to encourage you to make a plan to incorporate these actions into your daily walk. Decide today that you are going to walk in the love of God toward all those around you. These are steps you can take to become effective for Kingdom progress and also for living a fulfilled life. Let’s take these examples from the early church on how to show the love of God to others. You will be a blessing to all those you come into contact with and will be blessed yourself in the process.
Today’s scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22