1 Thessalonians 5
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the faithful men and women in Thessalonica he gives them some various but important instructions. Notice the different categories of people here and the different responses we are to have toward them.
- Warn the unruly.
- Comfort the fainthearted.
- Uphold the weak.
- Be patient with all.
- Don’t ever render evil for evil.
- Always pursue what is good.
I am sure that in my lifetime I have been guilty of getting these mixed up and thus giving confusing and frustrating advice. I have warned the fainthearted, been impatient with the weak, and upheld the unruly. When someone is unruly they need to be warned that their actions are going to take them the wrong way. When someone is faint of heart they need comfort, not instruction. When someone is in a weak moment of life they need to be upheld not given a sermon. This requires a bit more attention to people’s conditions than we might be used to giving but what a difference it can make.
In all seriousness, God is working on me with a need to be patient as He is patient. This is not patience for patience sake nor patience until I am in complete frustration and have “had enough.” This is longsuffering that leads to the salvation of the one I am showing patience to.
Have you ever sought to get even? Have you ever returned evil for evil because someone “got you” first? Boy of boy does this go against our nature. No one gets us without getting something in return. But this lesson tells us never to return evil for evil but instead return good to them. This is “Christ” in us not “us” in us.
Pursuing that which is good is without doubt the very best way to live. People are remembered for doing good to others. They are remembered for showing kindness in difficult times. They are remembered for caring when others didn’t. With Christ in us, we can always pursue what is good and then given Him the glory when our good works are noticed.