By Samuel Parrish
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14
A few years back, I got the opportunity to go stand on the skydeck of the newly renamed Sears Tower. There were several places where, after looking over the city of Chicago, you could walk up to an extension of the building and look straight down through the transparent floor below you. I had never been in a building that tall before and was amazed at the view. My travel companions on the other hand were not so amazed. No amount of poking or prodding could get them to stand up there with me, and so we left with our group, grabbed some deep dish pizza and went about our trip. One of them came up to me before the trip ended, and softly confronted me about my lack of patience with the group. You see, he really wanted to try out the skydeck and my nagging magnified the anxiety he was already feeling and shut him down completely.
Paul didn’t have the Chicago skyline in mind when he wrote 1 Thessalonians, but I do think he included this warning as a way to keep people from missing out on the heights that the Lord promises us as we walk in obedience.
Paul says in Ephesians 2 that we have been created for good works prepared before we were ever born. God has chosen you to join with him in moving his kingdom forward on Earth! He also knows that fear and uncertainty will keep us from ever doing those works and has given us some instruction on how to get going.
Many of us just need to do something. Anything.
Paul’s instruction to the idle sounds ridiculous to many of us with schedules that keep us running from before the first cup of coffee in the morning till well after dinner. But how many of us are taking thousands of steps a day just to keep from taking that one step God is asking of us?
Some of us are just plain scared. We see the work God has prepared and the implications of obedience in today’s world just seem too much. Be encouraged brothers and sisters! He who has begun this work promises to see it to completion. He has given us his Spirit to work in and through us, and promises to never leave us alone or betray us!
So does this give us permission to look for all the lazy, scared, weak people in our churches and remind them of how far they have to go?
No, but it does mean we have the privilege of patiently walking with people just as Christ has shown incredible forbearance with us. God has not called us into action by reminding us of how far we have to go. He has called us through a radical outpouring of love and grace through the cross.
“God, may you give us the eyes to see the work you have for us to do, the grace to do it with joy, and the patience to walk with others as we seek to make you known.”