Summary: We are responsible for our bros. & sisters. The church family was God’s idea and was meant for good. Encourage always, but sometimes a stronger, bolder approach is needed, while being gracious with one another.

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Gracious Living

2 Thessalonians 3:13-18

Intro: Two preachers were on the roadside with a sign that read, "The End is Near - turn around now before it’s too late". A passing driver yelled "Leave us alone you religious nuts." Then the preachers heard a loud splash. One preacher said to the other, "Do you think we should have just said “Bridge Out.”

-There are times when we need to warn one another about the danger that lies ahead of a poor life decision. We are responsible, not only for ourselves, but for our bros. and sisters as well. The church family was God’s idea and was meant for good. Encouragement is always in order, but sometimes we have to take a stronger, bolder approach. But in the midst of this we should still be gracious with one another.

-Paul gave some strong instruction in vv.6-12 of 2 Tim. 3. We have to figure out how that fits in our setting and how we can best help each other grow spiritually. Paul saw that the only way to help certain Christians who were being lazy and stirring up trouble was to cut off their free meals they were enjoying, courtesy of the church family. Paul told them to get to work and obey!

1. Don’t let anyone steal your generosity!

2 Thessalonians 3:13 And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

-Well doing or doing good often refers to giving to the poor in the Bible. At the least, benevolence is included in the definition of doing good. The meaning here appears to me more focused than simply doing what is right in general. In light of Paul’s instructions to cut off benevolence to the freeloaders who were expecting the church to keep feeding them and letting them cause trouble for free, Paul is now telling these believers that they should not cut off their ministry and charitable giving to the poor and needy. This is not their out.

-Most of us can get tight-fisted if we think somebody has taken advantage of us. But God wants us to be gracious in our giving – even if people take advantage of us. Your generosity is an act of worship to God and will not go unrewarded, regardless of whether or not someone felt they pulled one over on us or not.

-So, regardless of how we feel, or even if we just feel worn out in our giving, the word here is DON’T GIVE UP!

2. Obey Godly Instruction

2 Thessalonians 3:14a If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter…

-It appears that the early church regarded the writings of the apostles as having the weight of Scripture (2 Peter 3:15). The NT writings were not arbitrarily chosen by some church council a few hundred years later. They were already highly esteemed among the churches as being authoritative words to live by. Just as the Jews recognized that Moses wrote the most of the Torah, and they considered it God’s inspired word to Israel, the early church viewed the writings of Paul as God speaking to them. Therefore, it was expected that true believers would align themselves with Paul’s writings, believing that God was speaking through him as he wrote. Disobedience to Paul’s letter was tantamount to disobeying God! Was Paul God? No! Did God speak through Paul? Yes!

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