A Prescription For Christian Conduct

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone, I Thessalonians 5.14.

In this verse, Paul prescribes four imperatives for Christians to follow: Admonish, Encourage, Help, and Patience. These can be a hard pill to swallow. But the Bible is clear about this; followers of Jesus are to obey this prescription. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we all struggle with these at times.

To admonish the unruly isn’t always comfortable. The word translated as “unruly” refers to those who are idle or lazy. Let’s face it; a backache is one of the most common excuses to get out of work. Lazy people are undisciplined; they don’t maintain any proper order in their lives, they are always absentee, they are the ones who cause a multitude of problems for people wanting to get the work done. In particular, in this context, they are “shirkers” who neglect their duty and live in idleness at others’ expense. They’ll say, “Let somebody else do it.” This verse is telling Christians that it is their responsibility to reprove other believers.

The second imperative given is to encourage the fainthearted. Encourage those who are discouraged. In the context of this verse, the fainthearted are people concerned about one of two things: 1) People who have died (I Thessalonians 4.13); 2) People worried about the second coming of Christ. 1  Thessalonians 5.11 says, encourage one another and build up one another. To encourage is to comfort, to help them grow in their faith.

Now, concerning the second coming of Jesus. What difference does it make to worry about His second coming if you are not in the right relationship with His first coming? In other words, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus based on His first coming, you should be looking forward to His second coming, not worried about it. And if you’re anxious about His second coming, then now is check and make sure you have a relationship with Christ. Knowing about Jesus is not the same as a relationship. I can know the president of a country, but that doesn’t mean I know him. It’s a personal relationship like that between a husband and wife, you knowing Jesus and Him knowing you. Because after Jesus returns, there are no second chances. Time is up.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

Help the weak. Specifically, Paul is talking about people who are weak in their faith, not physically weak. Those who are strong in tier faith should bear the frailty of those who are spiritually weak. Romans 15.1-3 says, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Galatians 6:2, 3, Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Be patient with everyone. It’s that “everyone” that makes this tough to do. Patience with others is something we all struggle with at times. Being even-tempered and slow to anger is the goal here. Patience is a quality of God. Psalm 103.8 says, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness. Patience comes by prayer and seeing others through God’s eyes. God is patient with each of us, and we’re to be just as patient with others. You could say that patience is the key if we are to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak. And if we follow this prescription, then we demonstrate evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24