In working with the women of the church, here is what God is teaching me —
1. That I need to be helping my sisters to have FAITH. It is easy to get frustrated or discouraged with people, and tell them what they should be doing. But my good friend Nancy Berry showed me that it is more effective to help people to see what God is doing and can do in their lives. This is what they really need to get their lives on track. And isn’t this what Hebrews 3 is all about, seeing to it that each of us doesn’t have a sinful unbelieving heart?
2. That I should practice I Thes 5:14 with my sisters — “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
- The word for “idle and disruptive” is actually “disorderly.” It is people who are out of line, who are the opposite of being in sync with God’s will, as I so often say I long to be. In admonishing these people, I need to, as the Greek lexicon says, “exert positive pressure on someone’s logic.” I need to help them to see that it is reasonable to be in line with God’s will, and that it is obvious they are out of line.
- I need to encourage those who are “fainthearted” — who have an “undeveloped soul.” Literally the word means that they have a small quantity of soul. These people aren’t spiritually healthy. The NIV translates it “disheartened.” They don’t have the heart to do what is right for God. More than anything, I need to help them have the heart to follow God.
- The word for “help” in the phrase, “Help the weak” is actually more like be devoted to, hold fast to, support. “Weak” is someone who is without the necessary strength, who is feeble and frail. It is very often translated “sick” in other places in the Bible. It is the word Jesus uses when he encourages Peter, James and John to pray that they will not fall into temptation, for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. It is also the word Paul uses in Romans 5:6 to say that while we were weak, Christ died for us. And it is word Paul uses when he describes the body in I Cor 12, when he says the weaker parts of the body are indispensable. The conclusion of this for me is that first, people are in a feeble state and less able to just snap out of it than I would think, second, that I have been this weak, and third, that even those who are weak are still necessary in God’s plan. Also, a sick person needs someone who will constantly care for them and help nourish them back to help. I should be this person.
- Finally, if there is any doubt in my mind as to how I am treating my sisters, the verse reminds me that I need to be patient with everyone. That about sums it up, and dispenses of all my excuses about my impatience.
To summarize, here are some things I can consider in working with my sisters:
- Help them to find the faith that God is working on their behalf.
- Help them to see if they are out of line with the teachings of the Bible.
- Help them to strengthen their heart, build their love for God.
- Be devoted to those who in poor spiritual health, nurturing them back to a better place.
- Everyone deserves my patience.