A Little Slack
Make room in your heart for people as they are, not as you wish they were. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone would measure up to our expectations? But we're all human beings and we all fail.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright today? Well, I trust so. Bless your heart. Nice to be back with you. This is your good friend, Bob Cook, and we are going to look at I Thessalonians 5:14. We got into that the last time we got together and we’ll walk through it again and go on into verse 15 as time serves us. It’s a great book, isn’t it? This I Thessalonians. He says, “Now, we exhort you, brethren,” and that’s the beseeching word. It’s a kind word. It doesn’t have any gravel in it. “We beseech you.” We ask you earnestly and lovingly, that’s what it means. “Warn them that are unruly.” Warn is a verb that actually is a compound word meaning set their mind straight. [chuckle] My father used to say, “I gotta pound some sense into you, boy.” [laughter] Oh, dear. Well, I hope it succeeded. I hope he pounded some in. He pounded hard enough, I’ll tell you. When I got a spanking, he would spank until I started to cry which was generally as soon as possible ’cause I figured it would shorten the spanking and then he would keep on spanking until I really got sorry about it.
I don’t know how he could tell that when the tone of the cry changed, but he did. Oh, well, I’ll throw that in free. “Set them straight, get some sense into them those that are unruly,” and unruly means out of line, out of rank. They’re out of step. They’re absent without leave. They’re trying to do their own thing. Self-will is not only tragic and oftentimes ridiculous, but it doesn’t have any sense to it. There is no sense to the idea of just insisting on doing your own thing. That’s why Paul says, “If they’re out of line and out of ranks, try to put some sense in them.” Interesting concept, isn’t it? Remember this, the next time you want your own way instead of God’s will, will you? Not only do you end up looking ridiculous, but it says to everybody that you don’t have good sense. Anybody with good sense is gonna go God’s way. See, that’s the idea. Oh, that speaks to my heart and I know it does to yours. I want God’s will and I want to have the good sense to do it. Amen.
Well, he says, “Comfort the feeble-minded.” Now when we use the word feeble-minded today, we mean folk that are either brain injured, or retarded, or whatever. And our hearts go out to them and we do all we can for them. We have the special Olympics and we have special education and all of that which is as it ought to be. And by the way, Christian culture is the only place, a Christian country or a Christian area is the only place where you find people who care about those who are needy in this sense. However, feeble-minded as it’s rendered here, in your original text means people with small minds, small souls. Folk who just… They don’t see the big picture. Now what are you supposed to do for them? Well, it says comfort them. And it uses the word comfort in a verb that is often used in terms of consoling people who are in sorrow. The warm, tender, compassionate presence, the loving words that help somehow to cut the edge of sorrow, that’s the verb it uses there. Being alongside to comfort.
Now how does that help somebody that doesn’t quite see the whole picture, the small soul upon whom life frequently falls in and everything seems to be just too much? Well, it helps a lot if somebody cares. That’s the first thing. Second, more people are encouraged by a loving word than by good advice. You know that, don’t you? More people are encouraged by a loving word, the assurance that somebody cares than by all the good advice in the world. And so he says, “If you find somebody that’s a small soul, don’t lecture him. Encourage him with a loving word.” It’s a good idea, isn’t it? Then he says, “Support the weak.” Now here’s a word that means to hold close. Support is the present middle form of “anteho”, to hold onto or to keep close to. And it’s in the middle voice here so it means to keep oneself directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.
Bob Savage is now with the Lord, great soul that he was, wonderful brother, missionary in South America for many years. Many of you remember him. He and I were in Jamaica at Montego Bay and we had a couple of hours in the day when there wasn’t any meeting or anything and so we said, “Let’s go swimming.” Well, you know those crystal clear waters there of the Caribbean were quite inviting. And so we got our bathing suits and a snorkel and went on out, and I was fascinated. The kind of marine life that you find on the bottom of the beach there, just a few feet under the surface of the water, all kinds of beautiful marine life. And some of you didn’t wanna step on and some you could admire and all of that. I was going about and then suddenly, I felt tired and I thought, “Well, I’m gonna turn around and go back in.” I was maybe… Oh, how far? 25 or 30 feet out, but the water was too deep for me to step down on the bottom, and at the same time my snorkel began to leak.
Now I’m not enough of an expert swimmer to know too much about all these things and so I figured I better get on out of here before I drown. [laughter] You can see the picture. [laughter] Well, I was tiring and so I called out to Bob Savage who is just a few feet away. I said, “Bob, give me a lift here, will you? I’m tiring out.” He says, “Oh, I’m resting myself.” He thought I was kidding. I said, “No, I really mean it, give me a lift.” He just came right on over and put his arm around my shoulder and helped to tow me on into a place where I could touch bottom. He held onto me to help me. Now that’s what that verb means. Somebody who’s weak, that word “weak” means no strength. Strengthless, you might say. Somebody who doesn’t have any strength, can’t put up with the pressures of life, can’t really make it so you hold onto him. You support him. You help him. You hold onto him.
Now I think I have to admit that my tendency and maybe yours as well sometimes has been to say, “Oh, well, he’s a loser. She’ll never make it.” and just sort of give up. Have you been there? Now this tells me don’t give up. Don’t give up. See? That’s the thing that counts. Every now and then again you’ll see either in literature or in the media on account of some parent for example, who just wouldn’t give up. The television had a program, I think it was two, three years ago now of a mother whose child seemed autistic and would not cooperate in any way. But she simply prayed and insisted that something was going to be done with this child and that there would be growth and there would be response. And so she kept on praying and kept on working even though her family and neighbor said, “It’s hopeless. You ought to institutionalize the child and let that be that.”
And then one day, she found him sitting at a piano picking out a tune and later on, he was able to play things that he had heard. And when this program was recorded about him, here he was playing beautifully, some of the complex classical pieces that she had played for him on a record. And he was responding now and was speaking. They said, “It couldn’t be done.” and she said, “No, I’m not gonna give up.” Don’t give up on people. Don’t give up on yourself incidentally. Many a person that says, “Oh, I’ll never be any different,” and just gives up. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on other people. Hang on, that’s what that word means, alright? Then says he, “Support the weak, be patient toward all.” The word men is in italics there, that means they put it in to help it make sense, but you could say be patient toward all, everybody.
Now patient, there’s a word for patience that is often used in the New Testament, “hupomone”, which means stay under. Don’t blow up, or give up, or pop up, stay down. But that word is not used here. Instead, they use a word that means long spirited, long tempered, large hearted, “makrothumia”, large hearted, long tempered. Well, we’ve all heard of a short-tempered person. You say of someone, “Oh, he has a short fuse.” Now he says in other words, “You have a long fuse.” long spirited, long suffering. The same word is translated long suffering elsewhere. Be patient, long suffering, large hearted. Make room in your heart for people as they are, not as you wish they were. Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone would measure up to our expectations? But we’re all human beings and we all fail.
I think everyone of my friends, and God has given me a lot of them through the years, would gladly admit that Cook has failed them at some point or other. [chuckle] Well, they still love me. A friend is somebody who loves you as you are, who knows all about you and loves you anyway. That’s the definition of a real friend. And so this is what God is saying, make room in your heart for people as they are. Warts and all, as somebody has said. Now where you have a disagreeable person, where you have a difficult person, where you have a devious person whom you can’t quite trust? Oh, boy, that’s a rough one, isn’t it? Where you have a greedy or lustful or proud or maybe an insecure person that reacts violently against supposed hurts? That’s a hard one too to get along with, isn’t it?
Well, whatever persons you have to deal with in life, he says, “Make room for them just as they are, long spirited.” Why? Number one, They’re valuable to God and therefore, they should be cherished by you. Number two, God isn’t done with them yet. God is in the process of doing something in their lives, so give God time with them. People who’ve chewed me out have written 20 years later to apologize. It takes God sometime to work with people. So God isn’t done with them yet. And the third thing is, God isn’t done with you yet and he’s doing something in your heart. When you let him shed His love and His grace around in a difficult interpersonal situation, it does something, my dear friend, for you.
Holy Father, today, help us to love and support and be patient toward other people while you work in our lives as well. In Jesus’s name, Amen. Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing.
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