"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
Our Duty To Those In Need (5:14-15) INTRODUCTION 1. We have noted earlier in our study of 1st Thessalonians that Paul describes Christians as: a. "the children of light" b. "the children of the day" - 1Th 5:5 2. As such, we have various responsibilities and duties... a. To watch and be sober - 1Th 5:6 b. To put on the breastplate of faith and love, with hope as a helmet - 1Th 5:8 c. To comfort and edify one another - 1Th 5:11 3. In our previous study we noted "Our Duty To Those Who Serve"... a. To recognize them - 1Th 5:12 b. To esteem them highly in love - 1Th 5:13 [Our responsibilities as "children of light" and "children of the day" continue as we now notice "Our Duty To Those In Need" (1Th 5:14-15). Both in the church and out, there are those in need of help from Christians. Some may not even be aware of their need, yet our duty remains. For example, we have the duty to...] I. WARN THE UNRULY (14) A. IDENTIFYING THE UNRULY... 1. The Greek word (ataktos) means "disorderly, out of ranks" a. Used often of soldiers who fall out of line b. Deviating from the prescribed order of rule 2. The unruly Christian is one who does not abide by the teachings of the apostles a. From the beginning, faithful Christians "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" - Ac 2:42 b. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to do the same
- 1 Th 4:1,2; 2Th 2:15 B. WARNING THE UNRULY... 1. Warning brethren is a crucial component of preaching Christ - cf. Col 1:28 a. Paul warned the brethren at Ephesus - Ac 20:31 b. He encouraged Timothy to do the same - 2Ti 4:1-2 2. Unruly brethren who do not heed the warning are to be marked and fellowship withdrawn - e.g., 2Th 3:6-15 a. In an effort to save the unruly b. Also an effort to keep the church pure - cf. 1Co 5:1-13 [For those who are unruly, their need is to be warned. We should never fault those brethren who fulfill their duty to "warn the unruly", but be thankful they have the concern and the courage to do so! Next we learn of the duty to...] II. COMFORT THE FAINTHEARTED (14) A. IDENTIFYING THE FAINTHEARTED... 1. The Greek word (oligopsuchos) literally means "small-souled, little-souled" a. Translated "feebleminded" (KJV), "timid" (NIV) b. It describes those who lose heart, prone to dropping out, be quitters 2. Various conditions might lead some to lose heart; for example: a. Persecutions, tribulation - Ep 3:13 b. Lack of immediate results - Ga 6:9 B. COMFORTING THE FAINTHEARTED... 1. Such brethren are to be encouraged, consoled a. Paul had done this while at Thessalonica - 1Th 2:11-12 b. He did it earlier in this epistle - 1Th 4:13-18 2. Thus we see need to make a distinction a. Some brethren (the unruly) need to be warned, admonished b. While others (the fainthearted) may need a more tender touch, to be encouraged [Another duty similar to comforting the fainthearted is to...] III. UPHOLD THE WEAK (14) A. IDENTIFYING THE WEAK... 1. The weak could be those in need - cf. Ac 20:35 2. But more likely it refers to those whose faith is weak a. Who are likely to violate their weak consciences - e.g., 1Co 8:7-13 b. Who are tempted to sin B. UPHOLDING THE WEAK... 1. We uphold the weak by receiving them - cf. Ro 14:1-3 a. Not to argue over things in which they have doubts b. Nor to despise them because of their weak faith 2. We uphold the weak by bearing with their scruples - cf. Ro 15: 1-2 a. Making an effort not to put stumbling blocks in their way - Ro 14:13 b. Determining not to destroy our brother through the use of our liberties - Ro 14:14-23; Ga 5:13 [Brethren who are weak in faith need time to grow, for their consciences to become strong. Our duty is for "each of us to please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification" (Ro 15:2). Finally, we notice several sundry duties...] IV. TOWARD ALL MEN (14-15) A. BE PATIENT WITH ALL... 1. Certainly we are to be patient with the fainthearted and the weak 2. We are also to be patient with those we teach a. Even when it is time to rebuke (warn the unruly) - cf. 2 Ti 4:2 b. Even when we are dealing with those who oppose us - cf. 2 Ti 2:24-26 B. RENDER NOT EVIL FOR EVIL TO ANYONE... 1. A principle taught by our Lord - Mt 5:44-45 2. Expounded upon by Paul in his epistle to the Romans - Ro 12: 17-21 3. Repeated by Peter in his epistle - 1Pe 3:9 C. PURSUE WHAT IS GOOD... 1. For yourselves (i.e., Christians) a. Such as things that make for peace and edify one another - Ro 14:19 b. Such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness - 1Ti 6:11 c. Such as holiness - He 12:14 2. For all (including non-Christians) a. Such as things honorable, and honor itself - Ro 12:17; 1 Pe 2:17 b. Such as things that are good - Ga 6:10 c. Such as civil obedience, kind words, gentleness and meekness - Tit 3:1-2 d. Such as prayers in their behalf, and a knowledge of the truth leading to their salvation - 1Ti 2:1-4 CONCLUSION 1. Such is "Our Duty To Those In Need"... a. To warn the unruly b. To comfort the fainthearted c. To uphold the weak d. To be patient with all e. To render no evil for evil with anyone f. To pursue what is good for us and for all 2. In a world filled with much evil and moral depravity, those who do such things are truly... a. "children of light" b. "children of the day" Is this true of us? If not, then we need to heed another exhortation from Paul: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." - Ep 5:8-14 Brethren, are we sleeping?