It is a true statement that God has given us everything we need to live a godly life, 2 Peter 1:3. In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he shares fundamental truths for spiritual growth and health. Every believer is called to be discipled and to disciple. This means there is never a wasted sermon or bible study.
Before he gives instructions on our responsibility as a church, he first speaks on our relationship with those who are leading in the church. He explains in 1 Thessalonians 5 that they are to respect and esteem those who instruct.
To respect carries the meaning of to recognize or give attention to. Full attention should be given to those who carry the task of teaching the people and recognize the importance of what they are doing. Teachers are there to help you succeed and face every challenge with faith and confidence.
To esteem, the leaders of the church is to have the right opinion of them. We should honor them for the sacrifice and dedication to our spiritual health and well-being. They should not be taken for granted or underappreciated. Take the time to thank them for all they do.
Attending church is not about spectating but participating!
If you’re “bored” with the church, you may be spending more time watching than participating. Here he gives four things we need to be doing.
#1 Admonish the idle.
Admonish means to warn, to reason with someone, to advise someone concerning the dangerous consequences of their actions.
Being idle is to waste time and time is one of God’s greatest gift to you. Idleness is both not using your time constructively as well as doing nothing when you should be doing something.
Resting is not idleness. Rest is crucial to our spiritual health. Resting is constructive. But resting when we should be working is idleness.
Idleness is also growing apathetic towards spiritual growth. When you see someone going down a path leading them out of bounds, don’t watch them, admonish them. Our carnal nature looks for the path of least resistance.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
#2 We are called to encourage the fainthearted.
Life has a way of draining our optimism. Discouragement can come as the result of waiting for God to answer a prayer or when we can’t make sense of a difficult situation. We aren’t to judge people for how they are feeling or their thoughts in the moment but encourage them with God’s word. Get alongside and support them. Help them through the valley they are in.
#3 Help the weak.
Weak could apply to those who were poor, to those who have a lesser status or feel inferior. This type of weakness can develop into a debilitating mindset that may stop spiritual growth. As Christians, we are called to have the mind of Christ. When you hear someone speak in a way that limits their faith and the possibilities of God in their life, help them see who they are in Jesus.
#4 Be patient with all.
I don’t have to say anything on patience, because we are all naturally patient. Let’s hurry past this one.
The word patient means longsuffering, long-tempered, to defer anger, refusing to retaliate with anger.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5. This explains why it is so difficult to be patient with everyone. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. When others do things differently than you do, don’t get frustrated with them, but choose patience. Keep in mind, everyone is at a different place in the relationship with God.
Patience gives them room to mature and demonstrates your maturity.
Paul goes on to warn against vengeance. In Roman and Greek culture, avenging oneself when done wrong was necessary to defend your honor. Not doing so demonstrated weakness. Vengeance reestablished your position within society.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
You are never justified in returning anger with anger. We are to choose the higher road and leave the door open for mercy and grace that leads to repentance.
We are all in this together. We are not called to sit and watch but to take what we’ve learned and experienced and help others grow spiritually. Is it time to get off the sidelines and on to the field? Just do it!