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Devotional: March 12, 2021

14And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.

First Thessalonians 5: 14-15 NRSV

All of us have different gifts, different strengths, different weaknesses.

Yet while we are truly all are different, there are also many ways in which we are the same. We are all created by God. We all rejoice in blessings. We all thrive and feel better when we are in healthy and loving relationships.

Paul captures both the diversity within, and unity underneath the human experience in these verses. Paul uses verbs like encourage, admonish, help, and “be patient.” Not all people respond the same way when they have a weakness, or something else which needs to be overcome. I’m pretty sure that any of us who have ever raised or helped to raise children will agree. Life is never a “one size fits all.” Different people have different needs, so we tailor our ministries to fit their particular needs.

Therefore, Paul instructs his followers (and I count us all among his followers), to be patient with everyone. We tend to gravitate towards those who are patient with us, especially in the areas we are still working on (our weaknesses).

I love how The Message puts it in James 1: 19-20

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”

Following this instruction from God’s word may be difficult for us, at least sometimes. We’ve all heard the expression, “an eye, for an eye.” Yet we know that if we all lived by that philosophy, there would be a lot of blind people in our world!

Imagine what things would look like if everyone just slowed down, and tried to be more patient with one another. With all that is instant and immediate in our lives, our actions and words need not be the same. In place of escalating conflicts, minor tiffs might be defused by love. Finally, what would life be like if everyone sought the good for one another, and for all?

Paul begins this passage by speaking to his “beloved”. Even as he is teaching them, he has already told them that he loves them. Paul emphasizes that all of these actions should be done because of Christ’s love for us. Jesus is patient. He does admonish us, but he also encourages us.

When we have been given Christ’s gifts of patience, admonishment, and encourage, we should give that same gift to others. Doesn’t that make sense? I believe does. Therefore, let us be patient with one other, offer encouragement, as well as admonition, as we follow Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, thank You for the patience and love You show to me on a daily basis. May I absorb all that You offer me, and in turn, offer the same to others. Forgive me when my words and actions are displeasing to You. May I learn from my mistakes, and change the broken patterns of my behavior. Help me to be a witness for You, so that others will see and yearn for the relationship I strive daily to have with You. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, my Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


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