SUPPORT THE WEAK

Mike Johnson

Paul closes out the book of I Thessalonians with some very important and practical exhortations.  In chapter 5, verse 14; he “exhorts” (NASB — “urge”) the brethren to, among other things, “support the weak.”

Christians certainly have a responsibility to “support the weak.” The weak are those who are spiritually weak.  Most churches have those who are weak.  These are to be “supported.”  This does not mean that we are to uphold these individuals when they are wrong, nor does it mean that we are to make excuses for them.  Instead, we are to “help” (NASB) them spiritually.  We are to do the things for them that will help them to increase their spiritual strength.

Earlier, we noted that most churches have members who are spiritually weak.  This is not necessarily saying something bad about such a church, any more than it would be to say that some families have members who are physically weak.  Children, for example, are physically weak family members, yet it is not maligning to have children in a family.  Churches also might have weak members for a variety of legitimate and acceptable reasons.  When a person is converted to Christ, for example, he usually will be weak at first.  It is a good sign when a congregation has a lot of new converts.  It shows that the church has been bringing people to Christ.  They have been at work.

The Bible refers to immature Christians as “babes” in Christ who are on the milk of the word.  I Peter 2:2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”  It takes time for the new Christian, the babe in Christ, to grow into a mature Christian.

Those who are new Christians are weak and must be helped.  An infant is not left by his parents to feed, clothe, and care for himself; neither should the new Christian be left to himself.  Matthew 28:18-20 records the Great Commission that was given by Jesus.  The commandments are to “teach,” “baptize,” and then “continue to teach.”  However, often we do not continue to work with the new Christian.  We need to encourage them, continue to teach them, listen to their problems, and advise them.  Often this does not happen.  Instead, the new Christian is left to himself to face the temptations of the world.  He is left without teaching and encouragement.  Soon he may miss some services, and he eventually falters.  At this point, many excuse themselves by saying, “Well, I figured he wouldn’t last; he probably never was truly converted to begin with.”

While some are spiritually weak because they are new Christians, other might be weak because they simply have not made the effort to grow.  These have had plenty of time to grow, but they have not.  In Hebrews 5:12,  we  read  of  certain ones who should have become teachers, but instead they were told, “ ...Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat.”  These people needed to be taught again the first principles; they needed to be encouraged to have zeal and to grow.  Just making excuses for these people does them no favor.

All Christians need to “support” (help) the weak.  We should have concern for others.  In conclusion, Philippians 2:4 states this important principle “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (NASB)