Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Years ago, I rode a Chicago Transit Authority bus in Chicago.
At that time of day the bus was filled with weary office workers and worn-out shoppers. At one stop, two men, and a woman got aboard.
The driver, an experienced veteran on this particular route, recognized the three. Before they could sit down, in a great voice he announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, please watch your valuables. There are pickpockets on board."
Almost everybody reacted instantaneously to those words.
Women wrapped their arms around their purses and drew them in. Men quickly checked to see if the wallet they had been sitting on was still there. Then, satisfied we hadn't been victimized, all of our eyes rested on the three who were sitting down, trying -- and not succeeding -- at looking inconspicuous and unembarrassed.
They got off the bus at the next opportunity.
As I think back on that short ride, I find myself impressed by that driver. He didn't say, "What these three do is none of my business." He didn't think, well, I'll just wait until they make their move. If they do, then I'll say something. He didn't think, as long as my wallet is okay, I'm fine. My passengers are just going to have to learn to take care of themselves.
No, that bus driver took it upon himself to call out a word of warning.
That, I believe is the duty of the church. I know the Lord told His prophets to warn the Israelites of the dangers involved with leading a rebellious life. St. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, and many other churches, to take care of each other, through warnings and encouragements.
It's the right thing to do. We who have been brought into the family of faith, by the victorious work of the Redeemer, have a responsibility to warn our brothers and sisters of worldly temptations and devilish temptations. We warn them and expect that they will, if necessary, warn us.
Warning each other in love: that's what family members do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, although we have been made members of Your Kingdom, we remain reluctant sinners. Grant us the grace to speak words of warning and encouragement to others, and may they do the same for us. Moreover, let our hearts and minds be receptive to such warnings that together we may grow in Christian life and witness. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries