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. – 1Thess. 5:14-15 NIV
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Still on the effort of the Apostle Paul to continue to mentor the brethren in Thessalonica, since he had to hurriedly leave their midst after arguably three weeks of Ministration which marked the establishment of Church there – Acts 17:1-9. He had sent a letter to them through Timothy, encouraging them to remain faithful to the new Faith, despite the several tribulations and trials that they may be experiencing or may have heard that he was going through. He used the last two chapters of this letter to emphasise on the need for them to live a life that will be pleasant to the Lord – 1Thess. 4:1-5:22. It was not about just accepting to be Christians but doing all that is necessary to live a life that would please Jehovah. Today’s foundation scripture is another set of those advise that he believes will benefit the Christian and the Church, not only in Thessalonica but also, all over the world. Embedded in those verses are the following points;
- That idle and disruptive people need to be warned by the brethren – 1Thess. 5:14a. The church today has a large population of idle people whose idleness may not necessarily have to do with being unemployed but with the mismanagement of the time that is available to them. Being idle is not always a product of being unemployed but it may just be that such people have chosen not to put the extra time available to them into productive use. Christians must be taught on how to put time into positive use rather than activities that will disrupt the lives of individuals or organisations, as it is said, “the idle hand is the devil’s workshop”. Teach the brethren to use their idle time productively as that will definitely help not only to increase their chances of success in life but also to engender peace in the lives of not just the individual but the organisation as a whole.
- All who are disheartened should be encouraged – 1Thess. 5:14b. Times of discomfort and sadness will always come and a Christian group that does not have trained people to function in the role of encouraging members during such times will definitely not grow positively. Different life events can happen that may threaten Faith and no one is above such situations in life. A Christian group that is desirous of positive growth must ensure that only those trained to play such roles will be deployed to help such people remain standing at the end of such experiences.
- Help should be rendered to the weak – 1Thess. 5:14c. Being a Christian does not exempt one from situations that can be overwhelming. Those situations which may affect different areas of life will definitely present such as weak and the Christian group must have an effective plan to support such members during such times, as not having such support system will definitely increase the chances of members backsliding. No Christian group will definitely grow that way.
- The brethren should be patient with one another – 1Thess. 5:14d. It is simply impossible to have two or more people live together without friction. With this understanding, Christians must be taught the virtue of patience and tolerance of the actions of one another. Not doing so will always produce disagreements that will continue to disrupt the peace of the group. The one who expects people to deal with him/her patiently must learn to be patient with others too.
- They should make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong – 1Thess. 5:15a. This simply put, means that a Christian should not be vengeful. The act of seeking vengeance under any guise should be discouraged. It is not right for anyone who claims to be a Christian to seek vengeance as Jehovah claims exclusivity for vengeance – Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:17-19. The one who seeks vengeance is an unforgiving one and does not deserve to be called a Christian – Matt. 6:15.
- They should always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else – 1Thess. 5:15b. The forward looking Christian group must discouraged negative thoughts amongst members. The one who thinks evil cannot justify the description of being a Christian as there is no other evidence of the operational spirit in such, being the devil, than such evil actions. Any group that harbors such an individual will soon witness disruptions due to such negative mindedness.
That the above points if implemented by any group, particularly a Christian group will engender peace and progress cannot be argued. It is the absence of this basic guidelines that has turned most Christian groups into the chaos that they have found themselves. Striking poverty and lack of growth in all aspects characterise many Christian groups today just as administrative confusion reigns supreme. If only Christians and their leaders can apply these guidelines, there is the assurance that all these negative signs will be reversed and replaced by the positive signs that should be associated with a Jehovah based group. May that be the testimony of all who worship in the church of Christ on earth today and always in Jesus name. Amen.