14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Paul’s final instructions in this first letter to the Thessalonians begin with instruction to warn those among the brethren who are unruly. In Titus unruly is linked with out of control behavior with words such as riot and deceivers and phrases like vain talkers. In his description of a bishop, what we today would call a pastor, should not be unruly is also linked with hot-tempered, alcohol swilling people who are quick to physically attack someone, willing to be persuaded by money, and preaching out of a pure financial gain motive.
Titus 1:6 ¶ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
They were to warn these out of control people that their behavior was unacceptable.
The next thing he tells them is to comfort the feebleminded, people whose mental capacity would fall out of the range of what we consider normal. They would often lack the capacity to care for themselves in the first century and, as a result, would most likely not live very long or in very good conditions. The Christian church was to be a refuge for them, a safe place, where they could find comfort and the means by which they could live. Although we have many state run programs today to help them survive there is still an incredible loneliness and isolation for them, particularly if they have been rejected by their own families.
The Thessalonians are then admonished to support the weak. Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20:
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
And the Romans.
Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Cut off from any pagan temple’s charity by their devotion to the only true God the Thessalonians were admonished to care for those people whose physical infirmities hindered them.
And to all men, of the household of God and to those outside the camp Paul wanted the Christian to extend patience. We are not dealing with people who understand what is driving them or who their spiritual father actually is. When we deal with those who do not believe we are dealing with a spirit that they have permitted to blind their minds. We must be always patient with them. Remember, that the worst enemy of spreading the Christian faith and message are other Christians who have left a foul odor of what it means to be a Christian in some unbeliever’s nostrils. We must recognize this at all times and not get angry at those who oppose us. They need salvation, pure and simple, not our judgment or our contempt, but our compassion and our pity for their eventual destination if they do not receive Christ.
So, Paul goes on to denounce any effort at revenge, telling Christians to always do right, not only between themselves but to all. There is no excuse provided in these admonitions to treat unbelievers any differently than believers in living honestly and peacefully among all men.
Is this how the Christian community in your town represents itself and Christ?