Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. … Ephesians 6:10-18
If you are just popping in on this blog series (it is summer, I understand), for the past several weeks, I’ve been in the middle of dissecting 1 Thessalonians 5 11-25. The Lord opened my eyes to this passage about a month ago. It was a huge answer to prayer because I’ve been asking for more clarity and direction on how to live the life He has called me to. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as 6, 7, 8 and 9 (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists for us on how to do just that.
And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25
Paul says we are to admonish (reprimand & rebuke), encourage, help, but be patient with those who are weak and fainthearted. He isn’t speaking of those who are ill or sick instead, he is referring to those of us who are weak in faith and the desire or knowledge to increase that faith. Those are challenging instructions and what occurred to me is that most days I need only look in the mirror to find the person who needs to be admonished, encouraged and helped – Me, myself and I. How do we do all of that rebuking and encouraging with all the patience and love of Christ? This is how God answered my question.
I recently had to have a large area removed from my face where basal cell carcinoma was found growing, I did a little research about it online (of course). Now that we have Google, how can one resist? I learned that there is just a tiny bit of cancer that shows on the surface of the skin and the rest is hidden under the skin, growing roots deeper into our bodily tissue. The longer it is there the deeper it goes unless it’s removed.
This cancer, is like the tiny seed of sin, resentment, anger, fear that begins to alter our DNA or, in this case, trust in God. If the sin or trouble is ignored and not addressed, it continues to grow roots deeper and deeper until it has such a tight hold on us it begins to show on the surface through harsh words, more sin, ungodly actions or crippling thoughts. It makes us weak and fainthearted.
We have two options when it comes to dealing with the disease of distrust and sin. First, we can wear sunscreen (armor) to protect us from even contracting the cancer in the first place. That is what the word of God does for us. It protects our hearts and minds, keeping our attention and focus on Christ and the things of honor and praise and not of this world. His Word challenges, rebukes, trains, corrects all while a dose of patience and encouragement. The challenge is remembering and making it a priority to put on the sunscreen (staying in the Word of God).
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
However, if and when we falter (and we will), we must recognize the cancer growing before it has time to take root in us and cause destruction. How do we remove it? The cure is simple if we take it. First, ask forgiveness, second, seek the Word of God and third, pray for God to give you the courage and strength to remain in Him and live as He has called us to. AND HOPEFULLY, when we falter He will send that loving, patient and encouraging Christian friend to admonish and help us get back on the right path.
Oh, how I ADORE the word of God!