“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all“
comfort the fainthearted,
The word “comfort” means to soothe, console, encourage. The “fainthearted” need the stimulation of encouragement (2:11). “Comfort” comes from two Greek words: alongside, with and counsel, advise. Paul is saying, “Come along-side discouraged Christians and stimulate them to move on.”
There are always those Christians who lose heart. They need special attention. A despondent person needs consolation. The word “fainthearted” comes from two words: small and soul. A “fainthearted” person is a small soul who discourages very easily. A discouraged person has limited motivation for living up to the goals of Christianity.
“The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit?” (Proverbs 18:14)
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isaiah 57:15).
Downhearted people need encouragement.
Fainthearted people require entirely different treatment than the “unruly.” Downhearted people discourage quicker than others do. Such people are of such makeup that it does not take much to dishearten them. They give up at almost any obstacle in their path. They will throw in the towel at the slightest provocation. They will quit on you. These types need encouragement from other Christians. They do not have the ability to live the Christian life independent from mature Christians.
Are you there for people discouraged from moving ahead in their Christian life? A person of encouragement helps people through bewildering troubles. They know what it means to possess staying strength to share it with others who do not have that strength.
“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:15-21).
Our body is in accord with every individual part of the body. If we hit our finger with a hammer, our entire body feels it. Our eyes look to see the damage. Our other hand reaches for a bandage. That is a joint effort. People in the family of God help each other when they are down.
Many people cave into their problems when God wants them to tackle their weaknesses. There are always those who want to quit and give up. They get their feelings injured easily. We handle them with kid gloves, or they take offense at the smallest slight. Mature Christians will not allow them to wallow in sensitivity. They will encourage them to move out of this victim mentality.
The Christian life is full of obstacles and obstructions. We cannot give up at the least resistance. Things do not always go as we think they should. To assume that everything will always go right is a perfectionist mentality. Perfectionism is a self-defeating proposition. There is no such thing as perfection this side of Heaven. Perfectionism is a tool of Satan.
The Devil loves nothing more than to discourage a Christian because a discouraged Christian is a defeated Christian. The evil one will use criticism to discourage you. If politicians quit every time someone criticized them, we would not have any politicians left. If your pastor quit every time someone criticized him, you would have no pastor. No one can get through life without criticism. This is part and parcel of God’s plan for our development. It is an over-simplification to quit. God wants us to take on the challenge and face our problems, not run from them.