by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I Thessalonians 5:8-15
I. Each of us come from diverse backgrounds.
A. We come together to worship
B. We come together for fellowship
C. Yet that coming together is not always smooth.
1. Just as a family experiences times of irritation, so it happens among brethren.
2. Paul’s desire was for the Corinthians to be of the same mind - I Corinthians 1:10
3. Yet, the reality was they had divided - I Corinthians 11:17-18
D. A common thread running through the New Testament letters is instruction concerning how brethren overcome their differences to work as one.
E. We will use Paul’s instructions in I Thessalonians 5:8-15 to learn how we many join together.
II. Encourage or comfort
A. The word literally means to call near
B. It is a gift that some are especially good at giving - Romans 12:6-8. Yet it is something that none of us may forego.
1. Paul spent much of journey to various congregations encouraging the brethren - Acts 20:1-2
C. The encouragement is not a vague notion of making brethren feel better about themselves
1. After all the wicked encourage each other into further wickedness.
2. Paul urged brethren to dedicate themselves to God - Romans 12:1
3. Paul urged them to strive in prayer, to do what is right - Romans 15:30
4. Paul encouraged brethren to receive and follow instruction - I Thessalonians 4:1
5. To apply Christ’s teachings to their personal lives - II Thessalonians 3:12-13
6. The better feeling comes as a result, because brethren see that they have done something that is worthwhile.
a. Too often people want the feeling without the effort.
b. Or they want the feeling first to motivate their effort.
c. It is the accomplishment that gives the feeling of joy.
D. Encourage the fainthearted - I Thessalonians 5:14
1. Literally the “small soul”, the timid
2. How Paul did this - I Thessalonians 2:7-12
A. Seek the good for each other
1. Seek peace and the building of each other up - Romans 14:19
2. Galatians 6:9-10 - Do good to all men
B. Help the weak
1. The duty of the strong is to support the weak by the means of building them up - Romans 15:1-3
2. Any idea of supporting the weak that leaves them weak is of no benefit. The goal is to improve them so that they may become strong.
a. Imagine a person too weak to pick up a box. We can approach the problem in one of two ways:
(1) We can do everything for them. The tasks are done, but the person remains weak.
(2) Or we help them become stronger, so they may eventually do those tasks on their own.
b. Which is better?
3. Support and help to the weak doesn’t mean selecting the easiest path. It means helping each other through hard times. Encouraging each other to endure - Hebrews 12:11-13
a. Some of us take exercise classes. How do the instructors of these classes help the students?
b. They encourage them to push themselves, to reach a little bit further, to give a bit more effort.
c. Sure, the exercises are scaled down at first, but they are always set to reach a bit beyond where the students are.
d. If we understand this on a physical level, why do we leave our brethren as spiritual babes?
IV. Appreciate those who labor among you
A. Every worker wants to know that his labors are appreciated.
B. It is not just the weak who need encouragement. The strong need a pat on the back periodically.
C. Make the effort easier
1. I Corinthians 16:13-18 - Acknowledge such men
2. Philippians 2:25-30 - Hold such men in high regard
3. Good elders are to be well honored - I Timothy 5:17
4. Make the elder’s work a joy and not a burden - Hebrews 13:17
D. We correctly realize that all Christians are equals before God. We understand that the best of us are those who serve. Yet, we get in a mind-set that we must keep the servants in their place.
1. These are men whose service makes up for the lack of their brethren’s efforts. These are the strong who are baring their own burdens and their brethren’s.
2. We cannot take them for granted.
3. What happens when they need help? Few are willing to take on the challenge of work that isn’t appreciated.
4. We all need to go on and show appreciation for those who labor on our behalf. When we don’t, jobs are left undone. People won’t volunteer to help.
V. Admonish the unruly
A. Purity must be strived for because Satan remains at work
1. Later Paul tells us to examine everything carefully - I Thessalonians 5:21-22
2. John says much the same thing - I John 4:1
3. Even among brethren, we know that people will be persuaded to follow error - I Timothy 4:1
4. Yet we seem to be surprised when it happens in our midst among people we know.
B. Do not return evil for evil
1. We battle evil with good - Romans 12:17-21
2. The sum of it all - I Peter 3:8-12
VI. Live in peace
A. Pursue peace and sanctification - Hebrews 12:14
B. How good to have brethren in unity - Psalms 133:1
C. Christ commanded that we love each other - John 13:34
D. We must put effort into preserving this unity in peace - Ephesians 4:3
E. We must be people who make peace - James 3:18
F. Be patient with all men - I Thessalonians 5:13-14