Jump Start # 2245
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.”
Monday with Job. We’ve been spending our Monday’s looking at the many lessons that we can learn from the book of Job. One can’t help but see a lesson that is so obvious and was missing throughout Job is that of helping the hurting. Certainly Job’s friends came. Their intention was to sympathize with Job, but they missed it. Job called them “miserable comforters.” They argued. They debated. They accused. They blamed. But they didn’t help Job. And, all of this reminds us, that we can do the same if we are not careful. We can cause more trouble upon a hurting heart and lengthen their suffering simply because we failed to actually help.
Our verse today is one of many found throughout the N.T. that teaches us to help the weak. When people are discouraged, hurting, and weak, they are at their lowest and worst points in their lives. The attitudes, behavior and words that they show can be some of the worst that they have ever demonstrated. They are discouraged. They are hurting. They are angry, bitter and upset. So, to help the weak or the hurting, one must have some tough skin. You might get an earful of complaints and blame. What they say may not be fair, or even true, but their words can still hurt. Often, they feel compelled to vent their frustrations.
It is interesting that within our verse today, the call to go help the weak doesn’t fall upon just the preachers and the elders. We have shifted that responsibility there, where the Bible doesn’t. We easily think, “That’s why we have elders,” or, “that’s their job.” But the verse isn’t restricted to just the shepherds of the congregation, but “you, brethren.” We need to learn how to help the weak.
It is also interesting that unlike in Timothy, where Paul names Alexander, as a trouble maker, no one is specifically named here. Who were the unruly? Just who is fainthearted? Who is weak? Apparently, the congregation knew. They knew who to help. They knew who to admonish. Which brings this to us once again. In our congregations, would we know? Do we know who is weak? Do we know who is unruly? Do we know who needs our help? These brethren must have been so involved with each other, that they knew.
It is also interesting that the different groups listed in our verse, unruly, fainthearted, weak, are all connected spiritually. The weak, who were to be helped, was not a weak back or a weak knees, but weak spiritually. Helping someone deal with physical suffering is good, but God places a greater value upon things spiritually. Too often, in our announcements, we hear the name of a co-worker, a neighbor, who is having surgery, been in a car accident and their name is lifted up in prayer. Wonderful thing to do. But what happens after that neighbor or co-worker recovers? It’s as if we are finished with them. Mission accomplished. We prayed and they got well and that’s all that matters. No. Far more important is the salvation of their soul. So, a person recovers from a car accident, and they live another forty-five years, yet they die not knowing Jesus and their soul is lost eternally. Shouldn’t we be praying for the salvation of our co-workers and our neighbors? Helping them through a physical issue is not nearly as important as it is helping them spiritually. Did Jesus show us that in the crippled man that was lowered through the roof? The first thing Jesus did was to forgive sins. A person can go to Heaven with crippled legs. But no one will make it with a crippled soul. Jesus forgave and then He healed. That order ought to impress us. We tend to worry more about crippled legs than a crippled soul.
Which means, in helping someone, I must not be afraid to say the tough stuff, especially the spiritual things. Job’s friend did do that, however, they were misguided and wrong about God and the cause of suffering. We, on the other hand, having the right information and knowledge, too often sit in silence, never bringing up the topic that needs to be talked about, the salvation of the soul. We’ll talk about the weather, the kids, how they are feeling, what’s being done medically, what’s the next step in their recovery, but nothing ever said about God, His kingdom and finding hope in Jesus Christ. Say the tough stuff. Say it kindly and gently, but do say it.
In helping the hurting, understand your limitations and don’t try to be an expert in all things, because you are not. There are some things that you will not understand. There will be things that are more complicated than you can handle. Recognize these things and your limitations. Worse than no advice and no help, is giving the wrong advice and the wrong help. The wrong help further complicates things and can lead to someone getting into a real mess. So, recognize when things are over your head. There may be times to point someone to professionals. Some addictions are like spider webs. They are so entangling that it’s hard to make sense of them. How foolishly we can tell someone, “Well, just don’t do that anymore.” Tell that to the alcoholic or the heroin addict, or the porn addict. They want to stop, but they can’t. They are addicted. To us, just don’t do it makes sense. To the addicted, those words are useless. They’ve tried to stop for years and have failed. It may be time to call in the professionals to help sort through things that you and I do not understand.
God has provided a network of tools and helps to get us to Heaven. His word. His promises. His Son. Our fellowship. Our love for one another, are just a few of the things that can truly make a difference. There are those among us that need help. It was that way back then and it is that way today. It is our duty and our privilege to be the ones to help pull these folks out of the ditch and help them on their way spiritually.
Help the weak. Good, solid folks, like Job, who was blameless and upright, needed help. There days that you and I need help. We must be there for each other. Together, we can make this. Together, we aid each other. As the British group the Hollies sang so well, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”