2 Thessalonians 3:6-12
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
In this letter to the Thessalonians Paul is addressing something that Solomon had said thousands of years before.
In all the things that man can do and occupy his mind, in all things man can chase, all that really is important is your toil, being happy in your toil, your work. For as Solomon said, all else is vanity and striving after wind.
But Paul is also addressing two other aspects of an idle life.
The first, as he already stated in other letters to the Church, is self responsibility, earning your keep in life, earning your own way, not on the backs of others.
There is no free ride in life, not for the righteous.
Paul is telling his fellow followers of Christ, you are responsible for yourself. You are responsible for making your way in life. You are responsible for feeding, clothing and educating yourself. You are responsible for fulfilling your life. Through this work of taking care of yourself you strengthen your relationship with God and truly begin to realize what King Solomon was talking about.
You realize how all that truly matters is your toil and being happy in your toil, eating the fruits of your labor, drinking the fruits of your labor and being happy in what you do.
The other point that Paul is addressing in these verses is idleness and what it leads to.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
Paul knows this and is telling the Thessalonians and us as much.
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness not busy at work, but busybodies.
Paul knows that when we are bored we tend to get involved in things we shouldn’t. We stray to easy fixes, things that may temporarily make us feel good about ourselves. We stray to things that are quick and easy, things that lack substance or a foundation for building a righteous and happy life.
Paul calls them busybodies. He could be referring to idle people who spend their days meddling in the problems and sorrows of others. People who then use their self righteous, moral judgements to lift themselves up.
And he could mean busybodies, people just wandering through life not seeking a relationship with God or themselves. People who busy their entire life looking to get out of their toil, looking for others to blame and pave their way through life. People busy looking to avoid work, honest hard work, whether it’s work to earn their food and shelter or work to improve themselves and their relationship with God. They’re just busy trying to avoid work.
Paul sums it up in verse twelve:
Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and earn their own living.
Paul is saying to be responsible for yourself, take care of yourself and take care of your relationship with God, they all work together.
Eat, drink and be happy in your toil, all else is vanity and a striving after wind.
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