“But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” – I Thessalonians 5:12-14
It has been said that if you ever find a perfect church, don’t join, because otherwise it won’t be perfect anymore.
The fact is, any local church is made up of a whole bunch of people. Some will be wonderful, some will be terrible. Some will be strong in the Lord, some will be weak in faith. Some will be wise, some will be foolish. Some will be peacemakers, some will be contentious. If you’re going to thrive in that church, the sooner you realize that fact and come to terms with it, the better.
Paul’s advice is this: no matter whom you are interacting with, always respond in a Christ-like manner to them. Give esteem, love, and honor where it is deserved. Seek to live in peace, but remember that peace doesn’t mean compromise – so be sure to admonish the unruly and call sin what it is. Encourage those who are weaker than yourself. Be patient, even when you don’t see eye to eye with people.
Here’s the bottom line: you can never change other people. You can only change yourself. So focus on living the life of Christ in your local church body. If we all do, we still won’t have perfect churches, but we’ll get a lot closer to that goal.
* Whom do you dislike in your local church? Why do you dislike them?
* Have your actions been Christ-like toward the people whom you dislike? If not, what do you need to do to change your behavior and your attitude?
* On a larger scale, how does your church do with Paul’s injunctions in I Thessalonians: to “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men”?