1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 20

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

Fellowship has featured prominently in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 4, the apostle urged his spiritual children to keep loving one another and to do so more and more (see vv. 9-10). Now, as he concludes his writing with instructions concerning three aspects of community life (leadership, fellowship, and worship), Paul elaborates on whom the church needed to help, and how the church could help them.

This is the guiding principle for member care: ultimately, to do what is helpful for each individual and the community.

Paul identified three groups of people in the church who were troubled and needed special care and attention-the disorderly, the discouraged, and the defeated (5:14). Let's take a closer look at each.

″Warn those who are idle and disruptive.″ The Greek word for ″idle″, ataktos, describes people who are not only lazy, but also irresponsible, disorderly, disobedient, and disruptive. Some within the Thessalonian church had rejected Paul's teaching and refused to work for a living (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Their ill-discipline and errant conduct disrupted the peace, and they had to be rebuked. Disorderliness and disobedience have no place in the Christian community.

″Encourage the disheartened.″ In contrast to the idle and disruptive, this second group of people were to receive tender care. The believers were called to come alongside and comfort these faint-hearted, timid believers who were frightened and despondent due to adversity. Perhaps some of them were grieving over the loss of loved ones and were unsure of their own fate (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Or they were anxious about their standing before Christ (see 5:1-11).

″Help the weak.″ The Greek word for ″weak″, asthenes, refers to people who are physically weak or ill, as well as people who are morally or spiritually weak. Perhaps they had not yet learnt to lean on the Lord for their spiritual needs. Until then, they needed strong support from the other believers. We are to ″help″, ″uphold″ (v. 14, NKJV), and ″take tender care″ (NLT) of such people, who may be spiritually exhausted or have fallen into sin.

These three groups of people need help not only from church leaders, but also from brothers and sisters. Pastoral care is also family care-one member caring for another.

Caring for one another in the family can certainly be challenging. It might be a slow, involved, and long-drawn process. So, Paul lists three attitudes that we need when we care for other members of God's family.

First, ″be patient with everyone″ (v. 14). Patience will ensure that we do not give up easily. It will also guard us from being harsh, critical, or judgmental.

Second, ″make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong″ (v. 15). The church is a forgiven community, and a forgiven person should be a forgiving person. A forgiving spirit will ensure that we do not put down those who stumble and fail, or those who are weak or wounded. Our willingness to forgive will enable others to receive and experience God's forgiveness.

Third, ″strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else″ (v. 15). This is the guiding principle for member care: ultimately, to do what is helpful for each individual and the community. Galatians 6:10 expresses it well: ″As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.″

Think through:

Why is patience so essential when caring for the disruptive, the disheartened, and the weak?

What is one thing that you can do for someone who is in need of your help and care?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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