Lord's Day Liturgy

Casting Off

In his final bundle of instructions to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

I want to focus on “help the weak.” What does that look like? Before the answer, add to the mix this exhortation in Hebrews:

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12–13)

This context is a bit more narrow than Thessalonians. Here the knees are weak, not from being shy in front of a girl, but from being disciplined by our heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:7-11). Help the weak. Strengthen the weak.

It makes me think of when Cal broke both of his arms within nine months of each other (1/6/20 and 9/21/20). I’ve never broken an arm or leg, so there were new things to learn. When you break a limb it’s weak and needs extra support. This usually involves coming alongside with support; a cast helps to immobilize and protect and give the bone time to heal.

It turns out that the body also employs an internal, temporary scaffolding tactic. Between days 4-21 after the break, a soft callus forms around the broken bone, not strong enough to eliminate the need for a cast, but still providing support while new cells build new bone. Then in the last stage, “cells called osteoclasts do some fine-tuning. They break down any extra bone that formed during healing so your bones get back to their regular shape. When you reach this stage, returning to your normal activities actually helps you heal” (source).

To help the weak we provide strength through external support. To help the weak we provide strength so that eventually they don’t need external support. The goal is to get the cast off. Of course this depends on the kind of break, the other problems you have; it’s always a balance. But we confess our sins and we counsel others in order to be strong in the Lord.