A Wider Viewfinder
The key to growth in Christian things is getting involved in something outside of your own concerns
Alright. Thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you, and to share with you from the Word of God. We’re gonna look now, at First Thessalonians Five, Verse 14, Paul says, “Now, we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that, which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.” Well, that’ll take us for a while. We’ll take this phrase by phrase and see what the Lord may say to us. “We beseech you,” that is a word that is a tender and treaty kind of a word. It’s not a command. It says, “We’re just pleading with you, brothers, to do this.” It’s ‘parakaleó,’ ‘beseech,’ you find that word happening here and there. Romans 12:1, for example, “We beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.” And it comes from the idea of encouragement, and comfort, and treaty, beseeching a person to do something, because it’s important, not because you’re commanding him to do it.
Alright, he said, “We’re beseeching you, brothers, warn the unruly.” Now, those are interesting words, you wanna think about ’em for a moment, that word ‘warn?’ And by the way, it means keep on. They’re all in the linear sense there. It’s not just once, it’s, “Keep on doing it.” Keep on doing it. Keep on warning, and keep on doing this and that. If you’re a minister, or a deacon, or a trustee, or in some responsibility in the church, this is something that you keep on doing. Well, the first thing he says is, “Warn.” And that is a compound word, that means set them straight. It’s translated in Verse 12 as ‘admonish.’ It’s admonish, “Know them, which are over you in the Lord, who admonish you.” And now, this time, it’s the same verb, but it’s translated ‘warn.’ What it really means, is to set their mind straight. Set the mind straight. Put it straight. How do you get a person to think differently? I have noticed that all the argument in the world doesn’t make people think very much different. Have you noticed that? But yet, this is the thing that God tells you to do, set their minds straight.
You remember the little boy, who was told to sit down and he didn’t? You remember that story? And the father said in a more strict tone of voice, “Son, sit down.” And he didn’t? And the third time, the voice was raised with a little gravel in it, and he said, “Sit down.” And the boy didn’t. So the inevitable happened, he got a spanking. Now, he finally sat down, but he looked at his father and he said, “I’m still standing up inside.” [laughter] Oh, he had spunk, didn’t he? [laughter] Well, spunk isn’t bad, if you channel it and direct it. But that’s the problem with human nature, you can argue successfully and people will still have a different point of view. Alright, is this an impossible command for the pastor, the deacon, the trustee, the elder, the Sunday school teacher, or you and I, who are just garden variety church members? How are we supposed to change people’s minds? Well, Paul talks, in Romans 12:2, about the renewing of your mind, “You lead people to yield themselves to God, body, soul, and spirit, and their mind is gonna be affected as well.” You know that? I served a church for some months, in an interim capacity, way back in the… When was it? ’60s, I guess, late ’50s or ’60s.
And there was a power play going on there. There were people taking sides, and pulling, and hauling against each other. Well, what I did, was to get them into a prayer meeting and get ’em under conviction, concerning their own lives, without saying much about the power play at all. Just get ’em next to the Lord and you’d be amazed at how their attitudes toward each other started to change. You change people’s thoughts by getting them in touch with the person who can make a difference. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” God does something in my mind, when I give my life to Him. That’s the truth of it. Years ago, I can remember that I was under great pressure about a certain matter. And the problem was, what I wanted, was not what God wanted, and I knew it. Have you ever been in that position? What I really wanted, was not what God wanted and I knew it. Well, I had to come to terms with it.
And it was a hot summer’s afternoon, I remember it so clearly. I got down, and I prayed, and I said, “God, I have to tell you the truth. I want to do this, but I know you don’t want me to. Please help me.” Now, as sure as I’m sitting here talking with you, I could feel the steam going out of the pressure cooker of my mind. I could feel the determination that I had had, the desire and the determination I had had concerning this matter, I could feel it leaving. And all of a sudden, I was at peace, and everything was alright. Do you know about that? God can change your mind. Now, this is the job that we face in Christian work. It’s not to argue people into submission, nor indeed, to seek to dominate them. “Be reasonable, do as I say.” You know the old saying? No, no. You get ’em in touch with the blessed Spirit of God, and let Him operate on them in line with the will of God, and you’ll find that their thinking, and their attitudes are changed as a result. All of that grew out of this idea of setting a person’s mind straight, to warn, to admonish, to set straight. Now, there is an obligation for you to present what is true from the Word of God. “This is what God’s Words says.” You have that obligation, truly, to present it in love. “Manifesting the truth in love,” says Paul.
But if you want God to change people’s thinking and set their mind straight, get them in touch with the blessed Lord. Let their lives be yielded, body, soul, and spirit. Romans 12:1-2, “Yielded body, soul, and spirit to their Lord.” And then, see what God will do, in what Paul calls, “The renewing of their mind, so that they’ll be able to prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, namely the will of God.” Now, he talks about people who are unruly, ‘unruly.’ Well, you know what that means in English, unmanageable, out of line. In the Greek, it means out of rank. People, like soldiers who’ve broken rank, who’ve either deserted, or who are out of step, at least. They’re out of ranks. Now, he says, “You help ’em to get straight.” What’s involved in helping a person to get straight, who has gotten out of step? Maybe he’s gotten offended at something in the church. Maybe somebody has hurt him or her deeply, and so they’re staying away from the services, and sulking, and grieving. Or maybe they’ve backslidden, and gone back to the old habits of sin. Well, I don’t know what’s happened, but they’re out of step. Now, what do you do about it? Number one, you love them. You get with them and you show them love. Don’t lecture. Don’t lecture. Don’t preach to them. They get enough of that. Get with ’em and show them that you care about the individual, that you care about them. Get with them. Show them love.
Second, encourage them, maybe with you, to get into activity that honors the Lord. I’ve been greatly encouraged, on occasion, by people who took me on an errand or a trip with them. Said, “Come on, Cook, you wanna go along?” Well, sure, I’ll go along. And so in the process, there was a chance to talk with one of God’s saints, and there was a chance to see the Lord work in somebody else’s life, as we reached the destination toward which we were going. So take them with you, and involve them as quickly and easily as you can, in something positive that honors the Lord. There is a therapeutic value in getting active in something that honors the Lord. As quickly as you can, you establish rapport with this person who’s out of step, and you show them real Christian love, and you encourage them with you, probably, in your company, to get active in something that will help to kindle the old fire once again. Don’t let them go off in a corner, and sulk, and just rot inwardly. You get them going. This is all part of dealing with people who are out of step. Warn the unruly.
And that job never ceases. It’s in the linear sense there. Keep on, do it, and keep on doing it, is the way you read that Greek New Testament word. Now, what else are you supposed to do? Comfort the feeble-minded. Now, when we use ‘feeble-minded,’ now, we speak of a person who isn’t wrapped, as they say in Brooklyn, isn’t wrapped too tight. This word, it goes a good deal farther than that. Actually, it’s an interesting word. It’s a compound, again, of two words, ‘oligos,’ which means little or few, and ‘psuchos,’ which means mind, little mind, small mind, people who don’t have too much capacity, and who thus gets shaken up with the things that are happening. Comfort those who are of little soul. Is there any hope for people who are small-caliber people? Small-souled people? Any hope for them in God’s work? Why, of course. There, again, you don’t change them by lecturing them and saying, “Listen, you ought to have a bigger vision. You ought to pay more attention to the big picture, instead of being lost in the small details.” That isn’t gonna help them, just make them angry. How do you do it? You begin, lovingly, to involve them in something bigger than themselves.
The key to growth in Christian things, is getting involved in something outside of your own concerns. I, me, and mine need to be taken care of, and dropped out of your praying, so you get to praying for other people, and helping with other people. He says, “Comfort them.” Now, see that word ‘comfort,’ is a word that means what you do when you visit somebody who’s in deep sorrow. What do you do when you go to a place where death has entered and there’s deep sorrow? Well, first of all, you be there. Your presence means something. Be there. Second, you show love, and sympathy, and concern. And that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with people, who seem to be of small soul. Get with them. Show love, and sympathy, and concern for them as they are, and then get them involved in something bigger than themselves, so they can grow a little in the Lord. Good idea? Well, we’ll take up some more out of this 14th Verse of First Thessalonians Five the next time we get together.
Father God, today, oh, may we be people who are helping others, by getting them involved in your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ‘Til I meet you, once again, by way of radio, Walk With the King today and be a blessing.
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