Summary: II Thess #3: Work is worthy; and those who don’t work get into trouble or cause trouble
Busy, or Busybody
SCRIPTURE READING: II Thessalonians 3:6-13
This is the last sermon in a series from the book of II Thessalonians. It’s a short series because it’s a short book: just 3 chapters. II Thessalonians is the second letter to the Church in Thessalonica. Today, this city is called Thessaloniki. It is about the size of San Antonio --- with a million inhabitants --- and it’s considered the most important city of Greece. When Paul wrote this letter, Thessalonica was a prominent Port City, located at the intersection of 2 major Roman Roads. Trade and traffic from all over the world came through Thessalonica --- which made it an important center for the spread of Christianity. BiblePlaces.com
The problem was that the Church in Thessalonica was listening to false teachers. Paul knew it was essential that they “get it right” because their influence would be spread all over the world. He wrote the letter we call I Thessalonians to address some false teachings, but just a few weeks later he heard that new confusion had arisen. Paul sent off a second letter to address these problems.
Some of the Thessalonian Christians were so sure the Lord was going to return any minute, that they had quit their day-jobs. They were sitting around on hill-tops, looking up to the sky and singing “cum ba yah.” That’s why chapter 3 of II Thessalonians deals with the importance of WORK.
Now this topic was no more popular in that day than it is now. In fact, for a lot of people AVOIDING work is the only work they want to do. I saw a comic strip where 2 men were passing by a store with a sign in the window that read: NO HELP WANTED.
One of the men turned to the other and said, "You should apply--you’d be great at that!"
I heard about a Union Meeting where the Union Representative was explaining the new Work Contract.
He said, "I have great news, Comrades. Management has agreed to lighten our work schedule!”
The crowd shouted, "Hooray!"
"And we will have a 150% pay rise."
"We will finish work at 4 PM, not 5 PM."
And again the crowd yelled, "Hooray!”
"We will start work at 10 AM, not 9 AM."
"From now on, we will work only on Wednesdays."
There was dead silence --- then a voice from the back asked…
"EVERY Wednesday?" SOURCE: http://www.cybersalt.org
According to one poll, only 43 percent of American office workers are satisfied with their jobs. In Japan, the figure dips to 17 percent. In the first century, Christians had even less reason to be enthusiastic about their work. Most worked in menial jobs. Many were slaves. That’s why Paul starts out by showing them the WORTH of WORK.
1. Working is Worthy
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. II Thessalonians 3:7-8
Paul and the others who traveled with him had a perfect right to expect the church to support them. Instead, they earned their living in a Trade. Along with preaching, they also worked with their hands --- making tents. They did this so they would not be a burden to anyone.
In the First Century, most Jewish Rabbi’s--- who studied the Word of God as their first job--- also learned a Trade. It was a common teaching among the Jews that any kind of work has merit in and of itself.
On the other hand, most Greeks thought work was demeaning --- hard work was something only slaves should have to do. In fact, the famous Greek writer, Homer, said the gods hated humans so much that they invented work as a punishment. Many of the Thessalonian Christians were Greeks. It is possible some of them brought their Greek view of work into their Christian life.
Some Christians today have the same kind of attitude. They think work is a punishment God gave to Adam and Eve after the Fall. It is true that God said work would be harder after the Fall, but He gave Adam the task of taking care of the garden BEFORE Adam ate the forbidden fruit. The Bible makes it clear that work is a blessing and a worthy pursuit.
Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors.
“The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty --- not by putting little crosses on the shoes --- but by making good shoes. God is interested in good craftsmanship." Our Daily Bread, September 5, 1994.