Love and discipline: equal partners

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, 1 encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thess 5:14,15

Warren Wiersbe wrote that “… without a family to protect him and provide for him, a child would suffer and die. Its in this context that the Apostle Paul writes to the “brothers and sisters” at Thessalonica.  His appeals are from a family approach. Thus, he uses the word “brethren” over 20 times in the letter indicating this is a family epistle. A real leader has the responsibility to caringly admonish the flock of God.

The church of God is understood to be the family of God and just like in a natural family, a child/children need a family if he is to grow, develop his gifts, and serve God.

So these admonitions are universal to us as disciples of Christ who “follow Paul as he followed Christ”. Although the contemporary mantra which forbids judging, no such boundary is applicable in the family. Warning, judgment and discipline are how we keep ourselves in check in this crazy world. But equally important is the care of the family. To sum, Paul is saying that love and discipline are equal partners.

1. Warn people who are doing nothing for Christ, that they will be judged as lazy and cast into outer darkness. Reference the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.
2. Encourage those who feel they cant make it by reminding them of God’s promises and what happens to those who don’t endure. Remain patient if they don’t “get it together” immediately.
3. Two wrongs never make a right, so don’t give your support anyone who is in the wrong for that wrong.
4. Try you best to do good things for other members of the family. We must have a “special love” for the household of faith.

Paul also mentions warning those who are disruptive.   A disciple of Christ should not have a disruptive spirit. This is opposite behavior of idleness. Whereas idleness is unproductive inactivity, disruptive behavior actively seeks to hinder or derail the work of God. When it is subversive, the bible calls it a form of sedition. That’s when a person will not openly work against leadership, but instead will go to privately to individuals under the leader’s supervision and attempt to poison their minds against a Godly leader or leadership. We are to warn people against this.

Warning and encouragement are part of our responsibilities towards each other (fellow believers) as well. To do one and neglect the other, can produce an imbalance in a person’s life.

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