“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” –I Thessalonians 5:14 NKJV
As I was reading this verse last night, I was especially interested in the “uphold the weak” portion. What does that mean? Who are the weak? How do we uphold them? Here is my take on the matter:
The weak are those who have yet to find salvation through Jesus Christ and therefore do not have the Lord’s strength within them. Christians rely on that strength every day to direct our steps, battle sin, give us hope, encourage others, etc. God’s strength is a part of everything we do to please Him.
I began to think about what it meant to uphold the weak, and another verse, one I had committed to memory about a year ago, came to mind. I feel like this verse is a great one for all of us to have ready as a reminder. The verse is 1 Corinthians 8:9:
“But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” (NKJV)
I feel that often times when we are around those who are not Christians, we feel that we can “mess up” more. We feel that we are not being held to such a high standard as when we are around Christians, and sometimes our behavior can be impacted by this. The problem? We are showing them that sinful behavior is justified. Obviously, we can not expect the world to uphold Biblical morality and a lifestyle that is pleasing to God when it is still rejecting Him, however we must be careful that we also do not encourage the alternative. When we let a profanity fly, laugh at an inappropriate joke, make a comment (or withhold a comment) that leads the individual to suggest that we approve of the misbehavior, etc., we may feel that no harm is being done. This is not true. We are encouraging the weak to stumble.
I believe that if we are to uphold the weak, we should be constantly trying to point them towards God and towards a Godly lifestyle. We can not expect them to embrace God’s law until they have first embraced God, but this does not mean that they can not be led closer to Him while still being lost.
As you go out into wherever God has called you, think about whether or not your actions may be causing the weak to stumble further. We have been called to do something with the strength given us! Let’s do it to the best of our ability so that God can be glorified through us!