And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. -1 Thessalonians 5:14
Happy Valentines Day! This day is generally spent displaying love in some form to those who are dear to us. Here’s a Valentines day word from Paul with some relational insight for all of us.
Consider, one way to love each-other well is to follow the commands in this passage. At times, love demands a corrective word to an unruly brother or sister.
Other times, it demands a biblically sound word of encouragement to a discouraged believer. In “The Pilgrim’s Progress” we see a good example of this in the character of “Great-Heart” while he was interacting with Mr. Feeble-Mind. Mr. Feeble-mind was rehearsing his many weakness and suggesting he should be left-behind. Great-Heart replied:
“But, brother,” said Mr. GREAT-HEART, “I have it in commission to comfort the feeble-minded and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us: we will wait for you; we will lend you our help; we will deny ourselves of some things, opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you; we will be made all things to you rather than you shall be left behind.”
It’s worth reading the exchange in full sometime, but this is the idea.
Still on other occasions, it requires assisting the weak. This can be weak in body or in frame of mind. This often looks like helping with our words AND our work or physical exertion. In other words, it’ll demand time and attention, which to grant will require a measure of self-denial on our parts.
The final exhortation is worth being reminded of more frequently than all the others: “Be patient with them all.” Our admonishment, encouragement, and help must be accompanied by patience at all times. This isn’t just waiting in a line at the checkout. It carries with it the idea of being actively provoked while you wait, or as some versions used to translate it: “Long-suffering.” If we’re honest, we tend to demand patience for ourselves and are slow to grant it to others. This command signals that the fruit of admonishment, encouragement, and help often isn’t seen immediately. It demands patience.
So beloved, let us love one-another enough to listen carefully, assess accurately, help sacrificially, and speak wisely to each-other with all patience so that we all grow into greater degrees of Christ-likeness. Happy Valentines Day!