“Be Patient With Them All”
1 Thessalonians 5:14
Typical of Paul’s letters, near the end, he writes a practical section with
simple, direct instructions for followers of Christ to remember and put into
By the way, don’t let anyone tell you “there are no rules.” Don’t be deceived
by anyone who says – “As long as you name Christ as your Savior and praise
Him, that’s all – no other concerns – no rules – no do’s or don’ts.”
That’s popular and it is driven by the desire for an easy sort of religion
that gets you into heaven, but doesn’t demand much. It is not so! Don’t buy
True allegiance to Jesus Christ will manifest itself in careful attention to
all the instructions given by His apostles, written for us in the New
Testament. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. So, Paul – an apostle of
Christ – speaks for Christ to tell His followers how they should live.
And this is part of that; 1 Thess. 5:14 is for us to attend to, as followers
of Jesus Christ.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage
the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Those are words for me to obey, and for you to obey as followers of Christ.
And these specific directions have to do with how we help each other, to
continue to be followers of Christ. All of this is taught/written in the
framework of love and care for spiritual family members.
I want us to look at each one of these, based on our interests in continued
obedience to Jesus Christ – with everything that obedience involves.
“Admonish The Idle”
This was a particular problem Paul had to address in writing to the Christians
Thessalonica. There were some, among those Christians, who had stopped working
and were depending on their brethren to support them. How do we know this? We
know this from context.
Earlier in First Thessalonians, Paul had written these words: “…live quietly …
mind your own affairs … work with your hands … do not be dependent on anyone…”
(1 Thess. 4:11,12).
Apparently the problem continued and when Paul wrote the Second Thessalonian
letter, his approach has more urgency and finality. The people who are idle
have now been warned, and Paul said: “withdraw from them,” to save them (2
So, there was this problem among the Christians in Thessalonica of some who
were not taking personal responsibility. They were “not busy at work,” and
Paul said – this isn’t the way it should be. To paraphrase: “Get up, go to
work, take care of your responsibilities and don’t be dependent on anyone.”
Now here, he calls upon all the Christians to be a part of the solution to
this problem: Admonish the idle. If there is a problem among your spiritual
relatives in the local church, be a part of the solution; speak admonition to
those people. This is not a snide remark. This is not a long and loud,
obnoxious and embarrassing attack.
To admonish means to impart earnest counsel, in the framework of care – to
lead people back to faithfulness. This we do because we love the Lord and we
love His people. It is no more complicated than that.
Not just preachers and elders. This is directed to all of us and the scope of
this would include any evidence of disobedience or error – Admonish them.
Idleness in whatever form, spiritual or material, needs urgent attention.
There are always people who need our earnest counsel (see also Rom. 15:14).
“Encourage The Faint hearted”
I strongly suggest each one of us have been in this category, at some point in
life – perhaps at many points . . . could be, right now.
Faint hearted is translated in the NIV, “timid,” and that is disputed. But by
whatever term – we are sometimes simply down. Even people who are generally
up, zealous, optimistic. There are times when things just pile up in your
Maybe concerns over family, disappointment with people, financial pressure,
illness or crisis --- and it all seems to come at us at once. I strongly
suspect most of us know about this. I certainly confess it.
You may not always know it, but if you know of a brother or sister who is
down, prayerfully consider what you might say or do – to lift that person up.
There may be very small things we do, that, combined with others, can have big
results for people who are down.
If we care, we will seek to find ways to encourage the fainthearted. It may be
- Christians we know who are down – who are fainthearted – simply need to hear
God speak through us! I do not mean that in some mysterious way. I mean –
fainthearted people may be greatly helped by hearing us speak to them From
Scripture! There is an example of that – just very near the context where our
study is – look back at 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
13 Now we do not wish you to be in ignorance, brothers, concerning those who
fall asleep, in order that you do not grieve as do the rest, who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also those who fell
asleep through Jesus God will bring with him. 15 For this we say to you by the
word of the Lord that we, those who remain alive, who are left until the
coming of the Lord, shall have no advantage at all over those who fell asleep.
16 For with a shouted command, with a voice of an archangel and with a trumpet
of God the Lord himself will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will
rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up
together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 18 And so we shall
always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Here we have Christians who are grieving. And other Christians, who are to
take the duty in hand to comfort them. And, to comfort them with truth! Verse
18 says, “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
We need to explore what we are capable of doing to lift each other up and it
may be, praying with someone, or for someone and reminding them of the
promises of God. Encourage the fainthearted.
“Help The Weak.”
In every local church and in every audience/readership, there are people who
are weak spiritually. They have obeyed the gospel. They may attend some of the
assemblies, though perhaps inconsistent. They have not walked away from the
Lord – though we fear they may be on the way.
What do we do, in addition to the obvious, praying for them? Beyond that, what
do we do toward those who are weak spiritually. Let me say – there is no
guarantee we can make them stronger. They may be on the way away from the
But we can think through and act in their best interests, attempting to find
out what we can do, that is wrapped up in this simple word: HELP! “Help the
Elders are to admonish and help the weak – that’s written in the two previous
verses. Preachers – according to 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus – need to use the
Word and their example to help the weak.
But this is directed to every Christian: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish
the idle, encourage the fainthearted” and “help the weak.”
As you read the Bible and as you become acquainted with your brothers and
sisters, seriously explore good ways you can help those who are weak – without
being harsh, vindictive or arrogant.
I gave that last little provisionary phrase because – the next thing Paul says
“Be Patient With Them All.”
This is the hard part: patience with people. Most of us know that parents face
the temptation to be absolutely exasperated. The temptation is so common,
Paul, in Ephesians 6, warned fathers: do not provoke your children to wrath!
That illustrates what also may occur in our attitude toward our brethren.
We believe weaker brethren have been taught from the Word of God. There are
opportunities we extend regularly for people to be taught. We believe
unfaithful people have good role models. Yet, we see the same patterns of an
absence of growth and diligence. The temptation is like that of parents –
throwing our hands up in exasperation and just marking them off – or treating
them with contempt.
Paul urges us to hold back from the expression of our exasperation, to forbear
and be patient. What can help us practice this patience is to simply remember,
God is patient with us (Rom. 2:1-4; 2 Pet. 3:9). We need to consider deeply,
that we need to take our cue from our Father. We are to imitate His patience.
We receive grace and patience from Him. We – His people – ought to be inclined
to dispense grace and patience to each other.
The text takes us well into both understanding and motivation, about how we
need to treat one another – to help one another get to heaven. Is this what
you are doing?
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with them all.”
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 20.5; May 2013