In our Scripture for today we find ourselves in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians C3. There are several things going on here that we could address and some things that we can/must be challenged with as the people of God. I must give you a brief introduction to the history of one issue. Apparently there were quite a few believers in the church who were not willing to work and were sponging off of the others. There were bunches of freeloading Christians there in Thessalonica. Not only were there idlers, but there were disorderly people. They spent there time sticking there noses where it didn’t belong. It was such a problem that the Apostle Paul had to write to them and we have inspired Scripture that speaks to the matter.
It is interesting to note that Paul had actually taught these things while he was with the people and in his first letter to them he had insisted the same. In 1 Thess 4:11-12 the Bible says, “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.” Then, in 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly…”
Now we come to the second letter and the problem has persisted. These were such ungodly activities (laziness, freeloading, disorderly conduct, being busybodies) that the Apostle writes, “we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (3:6)
The Apostle’s word on the matter was a very real and practical teaching. Each person should work and provide for himself. As Christians, we are to live our lives in a quiet manner, not stirring up controversy or causing any type of unrest. The Bible says in another place, “Do all things without complaining and disputing…” (Phil 2:14). As much as it depends on you, “aspire to lead a quiet life.”
Secondly, we are to mind our own business. Now, there are several Scriptures that instruct us to be our brother’s keeper (our sister’s keeper), but that is not what this is talking about and I think you know what he means. We are to show genuine concern for fellow believers who have fallen on hard times, but for the most part we are instructed to mind our own business. It is disorderly, it is gossiping, and it is ungodly to stick our noses where they do not belong. The problem is many people intentionally and manipulatively query into others affairs.
Thirdly, we are to work with our own hands. If America has lost any Biblical principles at all this is the one. We have been indoctrinated to the point that we think everybody owes us something. Well, that’s not what the Bible teaches. The Apostle tells the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Now, we want our leaders and our president (who claims to be a Christian) to return to Biblical principles, correct? Well, what if he stood in front of the cameras for the whole nation to hear and said, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat”? That would cause one of the largest uproars the world has ever seen. Take note, I am not saying that it is wrong to save up SOME funds for our old age, or as a cushion for catastrophes that may hit, or even for a rainy day. AND I am NOT saying that those with health setbacks are to be rebuked for not working.
What I am saying is that, for the most part, we are to work and provide for our own households. That is pleasing to God and it is a witness to outsiders. It tells them that we are orderly, honest, God-fearing people who will provide for ourselves.
So, we “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands”
Let us read the Scripture where the point is made clear and then I will extend a few applications.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
What is Biblical Retirement?
What is the American understanding of retirement?
Have you ever read anything in the Bible about retirement? Is it a Biblical concept?
What does God think about retirement?
It should be noted that maybe part of the problem in Thessalonica was the fact that so many of them had a faulty view of the return of Christ. (I did not plan this in light of Harold Camping’s prediction, but this speaks to the matter).
We know that the Thessalonians could not get their eschatology right because we read so much in the letters to them about the second coming of Christ. They believed, as they should have, that Christ could return any day and that it would be very soon. What they did not regard was the overwhelming amount of Scripture that teaches that Christ may be delayed. I have never forgotten the main point of the parable of the virgins-
the Bridegroom may be delayed. He is coming, but He may be delayed…
If you knew for certain that the end was one week from today, you probably would quit your job, prepare yourself, and evangelize with such zealous fervor that you would not even sleep. The Thessalonians were so caught up in the awe of the second coming that it appears they quit their jobs, yet quickly they became freeloaders and busybodies.
*I think that the Bible lays out an ideal like this:
1. Work a job and provide for your family until you can’t work anymore.
2. Save some of your resources for the day when you can’t work anymore.
3. When you are unable to work a full-time job and you have saved enough to carry you through the rest of your years, do NOT QUIT working for the Lord.
If there is such a thing as retirement from an earthly job, it is an understating that that God has given you the opportunity to serve His church full-time.
Simply Put, Don’t be Busybodies
There is actually a word-play in the phrase “not working at all, but are busybodies.” The play on words is difficult to maintain from Greek to English, but here is the essence, “they are not busy; they are busybodies.” That is a clever way of saying that there were many Christians in that town that looked as if they were busy or even intentionally performed for the public as if they were busy, but there was no substance to what they were doing. They were busy, busy, busy, but for no good reason. They had become idle, disorderly, gossips, and truly busybodies as they went from house to house demonstrating their unrighteous lifestyles.
Simply put, don’t be a busybody. Work your secular job unto the Lord and work for His church!
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Work with your hands unto the Lord and pray that others will as well. Do not waste your time as a busybody, but honestly be busy for the Lord!
Do Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
We have finally come to our last and main point. Here is the primary exhortation and challenge.
The stress of this verse may be in light of the idlers in the church. (1) The more mature believers did not need to lose heart in their struggles with those busybodies. They needed to hear from the Apostle, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” It is a good thing to keep the commandments of our God. It is a good thing to continually teach His Word to others. (2) They needed to be models of the Apostolic traditions that were passed on to them- live quietly, mind your own business, and work with your own hands. Someone in the church needed to continue to exemplify the teaching. (3) They did not need to continue to support those who refused to work, but they DID need to give to those who were in honest need. We need to be generous people, though there are some who wish to use and abuse us. I know (and you know) exactly how it feels to be used, abused, manipulated, and nagged by others, but that is no reason to shut up our resources from those in desperate need or to be selfish. We must continue to do good and not grow weary of it despite our experiences.
There may be many of us who have not fallen prey to the sin of idleness, but it may be very tempting. In my short life I have heard so many Christians say some things like “I have done enough for this church” or “How much do I really have to do?” or “If nobody else is going to work then I’m not going to do anything either.” What terrible thoughts we have sometimes!
How easy it is to fall into the trap of idleness and spiritual laziness! And, take note of this, it is a TRAP! I have seen with my very own eyes men and women who truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ begin to slowly fade away. I have seen men and women who labored for the Lord with joy in their souls, but they were tempted by the bread of idleness. Their faith began to deteriorate because they were plagued with the thought that so many so-called believers don’t care about anything, they were overwhelmed by doing so much with so little help, and they finally gave in to the idea that they had done enough in their lifetimes. They gave up… And many of them have fallen away from saving faith in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
So, I want to challenge you this morning to not grow weary in doing good. Keep the faith!
If you are already retired or are going to retire, then retire unto God! Do not be a busybody who destroys the unity of the church because of idleness, disorderly conduct, gossip, and jumping into the affairs of others when you have no business in doing so. Work unto the Lord and serve His church. Do not grow weary in doing good. The Lord will bless you here and now with the satisfaction of joy in Christ if you continue to trust in Him and He has gone to prepare a place for those who endure in the faith until the end. Maybe you have grown weary in doing good. If so, may your mind be renewed this day, even now as we conclude this time together.