Summary: This is the 7th sermon in the "Continued Encouragement" series from 2 Thessalonians.
Series: Continued Encouragement [#7]
DON’T BE IDLE
As we have stated every week; both letters to the Thessalonians were letters of encouragement. While Paul continually was encouraging them and complimenting them, he did want them to remember why they needed to do these things. We now come to the end of this 2nd letter and before the final greeting is given, Paul gives them a warning. It is interesting to me that this warning is at the end. Why would it be at the end of this letter? I believe it is because it was a serious problem that needed to be handled; but Paul wanted it to be on their mind when they got finished reading this letter. The warning was against idleness. What is idleness? It is being lazy, not doing anything, hanging out, etc…
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (NIV)
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.”
I don’t do this very often; but I want you to hear this from the Message paraphrase. I have to warn you that this is very blunt and to the point.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (MSG)
6-10 Our orders- backed up by the Master, Jesus- are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious. Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
We are warned to…
1. Not associate with lazy people.
Why should you stay away from lazy people? Because the things they do will “rub off” on you. The Church in Thessalonica was turning into a welfare center for the lazy. Paul tells us to not allow them to use us and take from everyone while they do nothing. Paul and the other ministers worked long hours as they ministered and also worked secular jobs. Although these ministers deserved to be paid full time by the Church, they chose to not receive a salary from the Church. They were an example to the Church in how to work hard; and they wanted that to spread through the Church. The bottom line was, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (NIV)
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.
We are warned to…
2. Not be a “busy-body”.
When people have nothing productive to do, they will find something to use up their time. One of the most popular things to do is “get up into someone else’s business.” Paul tells them to encourage these idle people to settle down, get back to work, and earn their keep. We need to stay busy.
2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 (NIV)
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.
We are warned to…
3. Not get tired of doing what is good.
It is easy to get the attitude of, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Paul is saying, “Keep going, don’t conform to the wrong things; but keep pushing for that which is good.” For those who refuse to get to work, we are told to not associate with them; but not to treat them as an enemy. We are to warn them about their behavior out of love; and we should desire to see them change.