Summary: Many people today work in order to eat, but the Bible has another point of view. The Bible tell us that life is more than working so that we can eat. The Bible teachs us how to eat in order to work.
Work to Eat or Eat to Work?
I think it is safe to say tonight that none of us are financial wealthy or from old money. We are the working class. We are people who have to work in order to eat. We are the folks who live from paycheck to paycheck. Or if we don’t work now, because we are retired, we did at one time. We are or were the people who have had to work in order to eat.
Or, again, if we don’t work now, because we are too young and are in school, well, may I be the one to tell our young people the news? The news is, guess what, that when you finally finish your education, somebody will expect you to work! When you get your High School Diploma, your B.A., or your M.A., or your Ph.D., someone will tell you to get your J.O.B.! Work is a part of life. We work in order to eat.
The Bible has another point of view, to this point as well. The Bible puts another spin on reality here. The Bible will tell us that life is more than working so that we can eat. The Bible will teach us how to eat in order to work.
I raise this question to you: do you work to eat or do you eat to work? Let me repeat that for you, do you work to eat or do you eat to work? There is a difference.
The Christians of Thessalonica had gotten the wrong idea about work. Having heard that the Lord might be returning soon, they decided that all they needed to do was sit down and wait. Jesus is going to return, the end of the age is coming, so, hey, why work up a sweat? Let’s sit down in the old rocking chair and let it happen! The Christians of Thessalonica figured that God would take care of everything, so why bother to work?
It is to these lazy people, that Paul delivers a stinging word of rebuke: Please read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 with me.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we heart that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”
There are three points here in this text that I believe we need to see:
I. The Right Ethics and Witness (v. 7)
• What has happened to the work ethic in our time?
o Why is it that employers complain that workers do not want to work?
• I wonder if people get lazy because they never got a witness about work.
o Is it, in part, because no one ever shared with them the meaning of work?
• Paul says that we work as an example to others.
o Our work is a part of our witness.
o Look at verse 7 again, it reads: “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, an we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate.”
• I’m thought of my father as I was preparing this sermon, because, if he were still alive, he would be 72 years old.
o I was thinking of my father and his witness about work to me.
o As a very young man, he experienced some tough times.
o His father had passed away when he was still in elementary school, so to help his mother out, him and his siblings would go out into the farms around Caldwell and pick cotton.