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1 Thessalonians 5:14-17 (ESV)
“We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Jesus’ home-base for ministry in the Galilean region was apparently in Capernaum (see Mark 2:1). It was within this city that Jesus drew large crowds, especially among those who were in need of healing.
One notable miracle, which appears in the three synoptic gospels, centers on the needs of a paralytic. There are many details about this man that we do not know. Scripture does not record his name, the reason for him being paralyzed or for how long he had been bed-ridden.
However, what makes his healing unique among all of Jesus’ miracles was that he had faithful and sacrificial friends. Four of them carried him to the house where Jesus was staying only to discover a very large crowd. The only way to gain an audience with the miracle worker from Nazareth was to get creative. They carried their friend to the roof and began to create a hole in the ceiling above Jesus’ head. “When they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay” (Mark 2:4). After their hard work, this needy, vulnerable man was finally in the presence of Jesus.
What happened next was remarkable. Jesus forgave this man’s sins and healed his sickness! This unnamed man walked away changed partly because of the loving care of his friends.
We don’t exactly know if the paralytic’s friends were active disciples of Jesus, but we do know that they had faith (Mark 2:5). They were willing to be inconvenienced in order to and “help the weak” and “do good to one another” thereby fulfilling portions of 1 Thessalonians 5 even before the Holy Spirit had inspired those written commands.
As followers of Jesus, it is our responsibility to be servant-minded and to do whatever is necessary in order to lead people closer to Christ. It may not mean physically carrying our friends (although it may). Instead, we may need to give up costly time, open our homes, listen attentively, or potentially risk our standing with them by offering to pray or share the gospel.
Regardless, faithful disciple-making often involves being willing to be inconvenienced. Paul described this as “not pleasing ourselves” (Romans 15:1b).
Our congregation’s transition back to indoor ministry this fall will give us the opportunity to practice ‘others-focused’ disciple-making in a brand new way. As we wear face-coverings, wave, practice physical distancing and make minor adjustments to other activities, we will be helping one another (both young and old alike) enjoy fellowship in the name of Jesus.
These temporary measures may not be exactly the same as cutting a hole in a roof, but it will require effort, patience and sacrifice for the well-being of others. Since the coronavirus vaccine is not yet available, let’s prayerfully seek to do good for one another with an attitude of joy recognizing that we all desire to draw near to Jesus in the company of believing friends.
Lord, give us patience and wisdom as we seek to care for one another during these days for God’s glory. Through Jesus, Amen!