Patient With Them All

by Impact Church

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. (2 Thessalonians 5:14)

I love the practicality and simplicity of this exhortation from the Apostle Paul to the church and leaders at Thessalonica.  There were many new converts from paganism in the Thessalonian church and the Apostle understood the necessity of instructing and equipping the local assembly to shepherd and direct the early stages of their growth and development.  The seeking and saving of those who are lost is the passionate purpose and resolve of Jesus and of His Church. However, the saving of the lost is costly and carries much responsibility and even joyful consequence. Paul’s sincere and straightforward appeal is filled with applicability for our lives as we minister, care for, and serve one another.

Warn Those who are Unruly:  The word here rendered “idle”, or “disorderly” was originally a military term expressing the character of those soldiers who would not keep their ranks – out of the ranks. Different modes of treatment should be adapted to people in different situations; the unruly are to be brotherly and graciously warned.

Comfort the Fainthearted:  By “feeble-minded” the writer means the despondent or faint-hearted; those who were disheartened by the fate of their deceased loved ones and friends, or those who despaired of the grace of God because of the extent and depth of their sins. These were not to be reprimanded or rebuked, but comforted and encouraged.

Uphold the Weak:  By “the weak” it is not mainly meant those who were physically weak or the sick; but those who were spiritually weak, whose faith was feeble; those who were afraid of persecution, or were troubled or distracted with earthly concerns. These were to be supported, strengthened and confirmed in their faith. They are to be assisted and held up!

Patient with them All: There is no believer who needs not the exercise of patience “toward” him; there is none to whom a believer should not show it.

This verse offers a spectrum of ways to respond to people based on where they are and how they’re struggling (as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach) but this last phrase encompasses a general mindset with which to be with all men, in every situation. The reality is that when people are idle, fainthearted, or weak, we desire—and even sometimes demand—that the change happen quickly; largely because we’re sensitive to the impact walking with them will have on our time and energy. Patience is costly. It requires something from us: a willingness to put another’s needs before ours.

Patience is costly but exceedingly rewarding. In fact, there is no growth or development, in us or others, that will not require its virtue.