Summary: Your work matters to God. There is great value in honest, hard work. Laziness is a landmine that can destroy a person and anyone around that person.
An oxymoron is the combination of contradictory words linked together. The plural of oxymoron is oxymora, so here are a few of my favorite oxymora: (1) jumbo shrimp; (2) pretty ugly; (3) working vacation (4) tight slacks; (5) Microsoft works; (6) humble Texan; and the one we’re focusing on in this message: (7) lazy Christian.
You might have seen the news article from a couple of weeks ago that a Costco store in California was selling Bibles labeled fiction. Somebody Instagrammed a picture of it and it created a storm of biblical proportions. Many Christians called for a boycott of Costco. Costco apologized and corrected the label.
Some people think the Bible is merely a collection of old stories like Jonah and the Whale and Noah and the Ark. But those of us who know and love the Bible as the Word of God know that it is so much more. It’s a very practical guide for living. Everything you need to know about how to live is found in the pages of this book.
For instance, our passage today speaks about the importance of working hard at a job. Since most of us have a job or have had one, or will have a job, it’s very practical advice. At some time or another, you’re probably going to have the experience of applying for a job. Be careful what you put on your application because you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Here are some actual statements from job applications.
1. I served as an assistant sore manager.
2. Education: I went to school on a fool scholarship.
3. I am very detale oriented.
4. I am a rabid typist.
5. I was involved in ruining an entire Midwest division.
6. Reason for leaving previous job: Pushed aside so Vice-President’s girl friend could steal my job.
7. On a Federal Government job application, there was a question: “Do you favor the overthrow of the United States government by force, subversion, or violence?” Apparently, the applicant thought it was a multiple choice question so they wrote: “Violence.”
The theme of both first and second Thessalonians is that we have hope in a hopeless world. Our hope is found in Jesus Christ. Specifically, Paul encouraged the believers to hang onto this hope because Jesus is going to return. But apparently there were some believers who missed the point. They thought, “If Jesus is going to return soon, then the only thing I have to do is wait. I don’t need to work, because Jesus is coming back soon!” So they became lazy Christians—and that’s an oxymoron. A real Christian can’t be a lazy person. So Paul concluded his second letter with some strong words about the dangers of laziness and the value of good, old hard work.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 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. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves as a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”
From the beginning the church of the Lord Jesus has been sensitive to the needs of the hungry and the poor. We take seriously the passage where Jesus talks about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Then He says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
The first crisis in the church in Jerusalem was caused by how the food was distributed to the poor widows. So, the church has always been an aid station for the hungry and the poor. But a problem arises when there are people who CAN work, but they choose not to work because they know they can get a handout from the church. That’s the problem Paul is addressing here. The church took care of its own, but some of the members had stopped working to wait on the return of the Jesus. They became a burden to the church.