Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 18th

How to Help

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

These instructions are not addressed merely to leaders. Every believer is to live like this. Paul instructs us in how behave toward three types of people: the idlers, the disheartened, and the weak.

Warn those who are idle, he says. The word is literally, the disorderly, those out of step with the rest of the crowd. He's referring to those people who had quit working because they expected the Lord to come at any moment. These people were living off the gifts of others, and were not willing to work and support themselves. Warn them, says the apostle. Tell them to mend their ways. Do not let them go on like that. He does not mean to do this in a mean-spirited way, but to point out to them that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

Then second, encourage the disheartened. Literally, encourage the small-souled person, one who feels inadequate and ungifted. Help them find their place. This is addressed to everybody. People who feel out of it, who think they do not belong and cannot contribute anything, must be helped to find their place because they do have a place. In the wonderful picture of the body at work in 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle says, The ear cannot say, Because I am not an eye I am not part of the body.No, says Paul, even if it says that, it does not make it any less a part of the body (1 Corinthians 12:16). There are people who feel that way. They think, I cannot do anything. I do not have any gifts. That is wrong thinking. God has equipped all his people with gifts. We are to help each other find our place, give them something to do, and encourage them in the work that they are doing.

Finally, he says, Help the weak. This means especially those whom Romans 14 described as being weak in the faith (Romans 14:1 KJV); those who do not know much about the Christian life, who have not learned the truth that sets them free and need extra help. Perhaps they are not sure of their salvation, or they feel guilty about the past and do not sense they have really been forgiven yet by God. Whatever it may be, the word is to help them, to hold them fast. That demands a little extra effort; a phone call perhaps, an invitation to lunch, or a quiet talk about their needs. This is addressed to us all. We are all to watch out for one another like this.

Three attitudes are required for this: First, Be patient with everyone; second, make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong; and third, always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Patience is willingness to keep trying over and over again. Non-retaliation means that you do not strike back and try to get even with someone who may have hurt you in the process of helping him or her. Helpfulness is a continual attempt to better a situation, to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Father, guide me and grant me wisdom in how I respond to the people you have placed in my life.

Life Application

Can you identify people in your life who match the descriptions of the three categories? How can you respond appropriately?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Living Christianly

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