The Call To Work
God, open my eyes to the breadth of Your concerns today.
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18
6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.
14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIs God at work in the repetitive or mundane aspects of your life? Or do you only detect his activity in the unusual or spectacular?
Why does Paul suddenly launch into a tirade against idleness at the end of this letter? Perhaps news had got out in Thessalonica about this new loving community. It was a gift to scroungers and freeloaders. So, Paul clearly has to help the church to wise up.
It’s easy to misunderstand. It is not that the church is to stop being generous and kind (13). The issue at stake is that there is no excuse for someone who professes faith but doesn’t pull their weight. So how will they learn?
If we find Paul’s words in verses 6, 14 and 15 harsh, it’s only because there’s little alternative. It’s not done with malice (15) but as a last resort to help the idle to face up to themselves (to “feel ashamed” (14). But we should remember that it is only for those who are “unwilling,” not “unable” to work (10). All believers should work hard at “doing good” (13)—never to earn God’s grace, but because of it.
Are there ministries or people in your church whose needs are being overlooked?
Father, I pray for those who need help to receive it. Give me wisdom in deciding how I might be involved.
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