Summary: Who are 'idle" Christians and how are we to handle them?
We will finish today our study of the letters to the Thessalonians. Please open your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3….. NIV…
Read along with me 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18……
Let us note again that the New Testament was originally written in Greek and so there are various English translations to help us understand God’s Word. We can accept the major translations because godly men and women have prayed and meticulously studied the Greek texts and we are to listen to God the Holy Spirit who is the ultimate author.
There are of course commentary Bibles and bibles translated by individuals, we must be careful of those because they are really not translations but interpretations of God’s Word; and whenever man’s wisdom is injected into God’s Word, there is a big possibility of error. And so, when you get a Bible to study, learn who translated it and how. Here’s an example of a commentary; one man’s interpretation of the passage from a bible called The Message……
‘Our orders …..
Again, this is an interpretation not a translation; to me it makes our Holy Creator God too casual. Be careful of what you’re depending on.
Let’s take a look at a different translation; in your notes is another good English translation, the NKJV; read it along with me……….
Again, we are to depend on good translations and the NIV and the NKJV has the same major points but I think NKJV has deeper insights.
And so, what are the major lessons from this passage?
v6: other Christians are to “keep away” from “idle” Christians
We read from the NKJV the word “withdraw” is used instead of keep away; the original Greek word for keep away signifies “taking precautions”. And so the command is actually to be cautious of “idle” Christians! You know a lot of times just because someone tells us they are Christians we embrace them too quickly. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16 “You will know them (followers of Christ) by their fruits!”
And what does it mean to be idle? The NKJV uses walking disorderly. The original Greek word for idle signifies being unproductive because of disobedience to God!
And we read in v7-9: Paul, Silas, and Timothy were examples of productive lives! The main point to their statement is in v8; not a burden to the church!
Now, is work a curse? – not according to God’s Word!
v10-12: Work, being productive, is part of God’s plan for Christians!
Let us note that it states “If a person will not work”, in other words, if a person chooses not to work, they should not be provided for by the church. Email note….
And v11 tells us that Christians can be busy but not productive, just busybodies. The original Greek word for busybodies indicate work wasted because done without a real purpose.
And what does v12 indicate? Idle and busybody Christians are to be encouraged to figure out what the work God has called them to do.
In closing the letter in v14-18, God summarizes the right things to do:
- obey God’s instructions
- be aware of sins in the church
- warn those who publicly disobey God
- desire God’s peace and grace to everyone in church
- have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (the Lord always with you)
- have a personal relationship with those in church (personal greetings)
The applications for our lives today are fairly straight forward. Let us summarize them.
1. We should have productive lives for God!
Are the things I am doing eventually honor God? Or are we just busybodies? Busy being busy without a real purpose? Ask yourself often, “why am I doing what I’m doing?”
2. Know your “calling” from God; every Christian has one!
Ask why you’re doing what you’re doing in relation with God.
In school? – How does God’s plan relate to your schooling?
Have a job? – Why did God place you there?
Have a family? – What is God’s plan for that family?
Have friends or Associations? – How are they glorifying God?
3. Do the right things listed in v14-18!
Pray about these things.