2 Thessalonians 3:6-13: Work
July 24, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Idleness is not something that we often give much attention to. Why does it matter? Is it really important that we are not lazy? But here Paul discusses the importance of not being idle and why it is so important that Christian believers are people who live on purpose for the glory of God. We have here a warning, an example, and an instruction.
First, the warning. In verse 6, Paul strongly warns them – “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you…” – to stay away from those who are idle and disruptive and do not live according to the teaching that they had received. Why such a strong warning, indeed a command? Because if someone is lazy and does not actually put into practice what they have heard, then they end up being disruptive. An old phrase was: idle hands are the devil’s workshop. It means that if you are not busy about doing good things, then it it is easier to succumb to temptation to do bad things.
Second, the example. From verses 7 to 10, Paul reminds them of his own example. He certainly could have lived on the generosity of these Christians – the famous apostle Paul could have ensured he was treated as a celebrity – but instead he worked hard. He didn’t even allow anyone to pay for his food. He worked night and day so he would not be a burden to anyone. And as he lived like this, he also gave them a saying in this regard to remember: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. He would not let Christians sponge off other Christians; you must be willing to work.
Third the instruction. Those who are busybodies – not busy with work but busy messing with other people’s business, gossiping and causing problems – he urges to settle down and earn the food they eat. Someone who has too much time on their hands should work, find a job, earn a living. And Paul says all of us, brothers and sisters, are to never tire of doing what is good.
All of this means that the gospel has a surprising corollary: work. Justification by faith alone, the gospel of grace and mercy, must nonetheless lead to work. And this is such a serious and necessary corollary that if someone is idle or lazy, they must be warned, and if they refuse to receive such a warning, then – Paul is saying – stay away from them. Don’t be drawn into gossipy chit chat. Instead, work hard for the Lord, and never tire of doing what is good. For the more we are realize what Christ has done for us, the more we will want to do whatever he asks us to do.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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