GET THE BALANCE RIGHT
Lord, keep us busy doing Your work.
Read 2 THESSALONIANS 3:6–18
Warning Against Idleness
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[a] 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.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Or tradition
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.
There are signs of God and His grace in every area of life, work, the media, the church and the world (cf., Rom 1:20). Lord, give us eyes to see them.
Some people in the Thessalonian church have ceased employment, perhaps in a mistaken attempt to be ready for the expected return of Christ. Others are just work-shy. Whatever the reason, Paul urges them, as he has done before (1 Thess 4:11,12; 5:14), to earn a living by their daily work. He begins with a military-like command (6): ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’. The word ‘Lord’ (kurios) is variously translated as master, owner, emperor, king or father. Paul impresses upon his readers that the authority of Christ extends even over our working lives. The Thessalonians divide their lives up into secular and sacred, presuming that God is not interested in the former. Ken Costa, a prominent British Christian businessman, says ‘Jesus is Lord over work in the financial world and other sectors, just as much as in the church world’ (Ken Costa, God At Work, Alpha International, 2013, p25) We do not just work to earn money, although Paul exalts that activity here and removes any sense of stigma from it. We are where we work because God has placed us there, as salt and light in the workplace.
Idleness leads to more problems, resulting in some of the Thessalonians becoming overly involved in other people’s affairs (11). One strategy of Satan is to find things to occupy idle hands and minds. We should be found as busy and active as God has called us to be when Christ returns. That does not mean we should be workaholics or lose a sense of balancing family, church, work, and leisure. We should ask God each day what He wants us to be about and do it with all our hearts.
When Paul prays at the end, he includes those whom he has just criticized for being idle. His prayers reveal his heart of tolerance and mercy, as should ours.
‘We shall never have more time. We have, and always have had, all the time there is.’ (Arnold Bennett, quoted by Ken Costa, ibid, p93) Pray about how you will use your time today.
Lord, show us how to maintain the balance between being industrious in the secular pursuits and in the spiritual.
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