Summary: Followers of Christ are to be hard-working and self-sufficient.
Title: Slackers and a Christian Work Ethic
Text: II Thessalonians 3:6-13
Thesis: Followers of Christ are to be hard-working and self-sufficient.
Some men were overheard chatting around the table at a local restaurant about retirement. One of the men, a guy who looked to be in his early 50’s said, “I can’t wait to retire.” He went on to say that just that morning his wife had asked him what he wanted to do when he retired. He said, “I told her, ‘I’m going to sit on the couch and watch TV all day every day.’”
There was silence around the table for a moment and then one of the men said, “If you do that you’ll be dead within a year.”
The guy looked shocked and asked, “Why?”
The other man said, “If the lack of purpose in your life doesn’t kill you first, your wife will.”
In the gospels Jesus often spoke of the Kingdom of God… and it so happened that on one occasion some religious leaders asked him, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus responded saying, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
Some of the Christians, to whom Paul was writing, were caught up in the notion that the return of Christ and the establishment of the visible and earthly Kingdom of God was imminent. The return of Christ is imminent in the sense that it may occur at any time… even a time when we least expect it. But they were not thinking in terms of being prepared for when Christ returns. They were thinking Christ was coming any day now and so let’s cease and desist and sit on the front porch gazing off into the clouds in anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming.
Perhaps they were tuned in to “the signs of the times” and interpreted those signs as prophetic fulfillments that indicated the return of Christ was very near. But, for whatever reason, they got it in their heads that Christ was coming and coming soon… therefore there was no compelling reason to be vested in this life.
They reasoned, if the return of Christ is imminent then why should we work? If the return of Christ is imminent why should we bother to paint the house or mow the lawn or pay the mortgage? If Christ is returning at any moment and all that is of this life will be left behind, why worry about the economy or caring for the planet or getting an education or vocational training. If the return of Christ is imminent then why vote or give Thanksgiving Turkeys to the Denver Rescue Mission or do anything for that matter. Christ is coming so who’s going to need turkeys?
So it was, with an exaggerated sense of spiritual pretense, that some Christians used their hope of Christ’s return as an excuse for living lazy and irresponsible lives. They became an embarrassment to the Christian community and to God. Rather than living lives that glorified God and blessed people, they became known as religious slackers who were a burden to society and nuisances in the community.
Their lives were so egregiously irresponsible that Paul said that people known for such flagrant irresponsibility should be avoided.
Christians are to be known for their work ethic not for being irresponsible.
I. A Christian should be known for his or her work-ethic – not the lack there of…
“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 teachings you received from us.” II Thessalonians 3:6
One version states that we are to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the traditions” they had received. Lazy Christians are called disorderly or unruly. They are out of step or out of order.
Marching bands are great examples of choreographed precision. Military parades are examples of synchronized movement where every marcher is in step with the others. I always marvel at how marchers must rehearse and rehearse and rehearse in order to be prepared to be in perfect step for their public performances.
Marching out of step may be a comedy staple with the likes of Gomer Pyle or Laurel and Hardy - marching off in the wrong direction… but being out of step as a lazy or irresponsible person representing the Christian community before a secular culture was no laughing matter.
On any given Monday morning those folks were sitting on their front porches watching all the cars go by and shaking their heads in wonder at those idiot, workaholics who were going to work.