Summary: God doesn’t want us to be loafers while we wait for the appearing of His Son. Instead, we are to work hard, settle down, and earn our wages. We must never tire of doing what is right.
Being Busy for Christ
For those of you who are wondering if I got my hair cut, the answer is “yes.” On Wednesday, I invited Harold Davis to speak about sheep at the Kiwanis club. He did a great job, as he did this summer when he helped us learn more about Psalm 23. In my introduction of Harold, I mentioned that he has given haircuts to over 850,000 sheep over the past 53 years. When the program was over, someone (a new member of PBC) came up to me and asked if Harold had used my head in a shearing demonstration! Real funny.
A woman went with her husband to the doctor’s office. When the checkup was over, the doctor asked the man to wait outside so he could talk to the wife. He had a very somber look on his face and asked her to sit down, “Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don’t do what I ask, he is not going to make it. Here’s what I want you to do. Get up early each morning and fix him a healthy breakfast. Make him a nutritious lunch and prepare a really special dinner every night. Be pleasant at all times. Don’t burden him with chores or discuss your problems with him. You will need to do almost all the work around the house. And, you can’t nag him about anything. If you can do this for a year, your husband will completely regain his health.”
As they were driving home, the husband turned to his wife and asked, “What did the doctor say?” To which she replied, “He said you’re going to have a very difficult year!”
This wife wasn’t interested in following the doctor’s orders by doing the work that it would take to make things better. As we come to the closing verses in 2 Thessalonians, and to the final message in our “Don’t Be Left Behind” series, we’re going to see that some believers were not interested in following Paul’s orders and had stopped working altogether.
Follow along in your Bible as I read 3:6-18: “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 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. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
The church in Thessalonica had some problems. Like physical ailments, if they were left untreated, these chronic complaints would only cause more sickness and pain. Some of the believers had a wrong response to the imminent return of Christ and had stopped working and become idle. Because they had nothing else to do, they ran around spreading panic and putting their noses where they did not belong. Paul refers to them as busybodies. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way: “They had time on their hands and gossip on their lips, but they defended themselves by saying, ‘The Lord is coming soon!’”
This wasn’t the first time that Paul had to address their faulty views of work.
Look at verse 10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’” Right after starting the church, Paul gave them some guidelines for how to handle those who refuse to work. We could say it this way: No loaf to the loafer and no soup for the slacker.