HELPING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” I Thessalonians 5:14
Several things should be obvious when it comes to helping people. We all need help from time to time. There are no “maintenance free” Christians. We all need assistance, comfort, instruction, reproof, encouragement, and acceptance. The mindset to avoid at all costs is the one of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:17, “I . . . have need of nothing.”
In our text, the Lord uses Paul to remind us that we all do not need the same thing at the same time. There will be some who are “unruly” and will need someone to “warn them.” When someone is rebellious and disobedient, he should be warned. We are to “comfort the feebleminded.” There will be those who are faint-hearted or discouraged; they are in need of encouragement and comfort. They do not need to be rebuked or warned. Sometimes the brethren will be “weak,” in need of someone to help carry their burdens or support them in their weakness. However, whatever their need, we must have patience for all of our spiritual family. This verse goes on to say, “be patient toward all men.” We are to be forbearing with all the brethren.
One of the mistakes we make in our attempts to minister to God’s people is trying to give the same medicine to every ill person. We do not want to be correcting and reproving someone who needs support, nor do we want to comfort those who need warning. It is reassuring to know that God knows where every person is spiritually, and He knows what we need. We can come to Him with our needs and know that He cares and has the exact answer for our problems. We can also trust Him to give direction and discernment to us when we are seeking to help those who are struggling.
We must remember to “be patient toward all men.” None of us have arrived. We all have room to grow, much room as a matter of fact. People, like plants, do not all grow at the same pace. Although we may be further along in a particular area than another brother or sister, if we will be honest, there are other areas where we may not be quite so strong. Keeping this in mind will help us to be patient toward others. There is another thing that should help keep us patient. We need to remember how patient God has been, and continues to be, with us.