2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 (ESV)
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
This passage seems harsh at first look. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” They must have had a problem with people trying to live off of other people’s work. There is an old adage that says: “Idle hands are the Devil’s tools.” The problem is not that people could not find work. The problem was that they did not want to work. Then, as today, there were probably plenty of jobs available.
But this is even more specific. It is not speaking of your average homeless or unemployed. It is speaking about a brother [or sister - today] in the church who is not willing to work. Many people go through a time of unemployment, and when I first retired from the Army, I had a terrible time finding a job. This was a difficult time for me, but I was looking, and willing to work. I eventually tried doing something that did not work very well. I tried to sell cars. After a few months of failing at this, I found another job. I could not care for my family properly on the low paycheck from not selling cars.
Today, we have a problem in our society. People that are not working are growing in number. People have lost the desire, or the sense of independence which made this country great. I am not a fan of the theory of independence, because no one is actually independent. If we are honest, we are interdependent. We need each other. The purpose of the church is to care for one another. Well, first it is to worship God and lead others to a relationship with Him, but second, it is to care for one another.
The warning against idleness above in the Church in Thessalonica needs to be applied in our society as well. We need to not be idle. We were created to work. People who do not work, create problems, and burdens for others. As children of God, we need to set the example, and ensure that we do our part to remain interdependent, not dependent.
My prayer for today, is that God will help all who are looking for work to find it. May He help all of us that have jobs, to do them well. May we all seek His glory in all we do.
by Virgil Stripes