2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 But 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. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
A sense of entitlement. It seems to be growing more and more in our society. It’s a spirit of dullness and a spirit of “give me” and it seems to be invading our workplace and our nation. This is not a new thing, not even among Christians. Paul was writing this epistle during a time when some of the Thessalonians believers had stopped working. It seems they were relying on the generosity of their fellow believers, supposedly for the sake of being spiritual and waiting for the second coming of Christ – or maybe they were just being lazy. Whatever it was, Paul had harsh words for this sense of entitlement.
Paul begins this by stating that we are to withdraw from people who are disorderly. Who are the disorderly? Paul defines them as those who will not work. This command in the Greek has the force of a military command and is given in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our Supreme Commander. The word “withdraw” (stellesthai) means to stay away from; to have no fellowship with. We are not to be identified in any way with these disorderly people who will not work. Hanging out with people can also cause them to believe we condone their behavior. We are to be careful not to do this.
This passage gives four reasons why we are to withdraw from the disorderly. Verse 6 tells us that the person who does not work disobeys God’s commands and instructions. The word “tradition” (paradosin) means all the Word of God, whether taught or written. Pau says he had already taught these people the value of working as it applies to the commands of God and so they are without excuse. If they continue in this life style, believers are to withdraw from them. The second reason we are to withdraw is because they have examples and so should know better. Paul worked day and night in labor and toil. As a minister of the gospel, he had a right to be supported but chose not to be because he could set a dynamic example for these people. This is not saying ministers should not be paid a real wage. Paul obviously saw a problem with these particular people and was trying to set an example.
Another reason we are to withdraw from disorderly people is because they lose their right to eat. It can’t be stated any plainer: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. Note that this is also a command. Again this is not talking about those who are truly disabled or unable to find employment. This is taking about people who choose not to work – who choose to sit around doing nothing all day. There are too many people in the world who are destitute, desperate, and dying. Almost every church could put people to work, helping the truly needy. The fourth reason is that those who are idle tend to be busybodies. Our minds are active things and are never still. Either it is busy thinking positive, productive thoughts or it is busy thinking negative thoughts. This is why so many idle people, especially young people, get into trouble today.
Verses 12-13 command us all to work. Again this is a forceful command, a command that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to earn our living in quietness in contrast to being busybodies. We’re to work with a quiet spirit and mind our own business – being efficient workers. We are not to get weary in doing good. Don’t slack – be a good example for others as unto the Lord. Some values and goals are important when we consider our work:
· Pursue your life’s choice of work as a calling from God, whatever it might be, believing that He will guide and prepare you to accomplish a good work.
· Increase understanding of your interests, personality, style, gifts, and talents.
· Increase your skill and usability of universal job skills such as analytical thinking, evaluating skills, learning good communication, writing, speaking skills, interpersonal relationship skills, and problem solving skills.
· Whatever you do, do it with thanksgiving and praise and give glory to God for any achievement.
Work is good for us. When God placed Adam in the garden, He gave him work to do. When we see our work as God-given, we have a whole new perspective. It’s not a necessary evil that takes time away from “spiritual” things, but a gift from God through which we are to grow spiritually and minister to others. This is the solution for the sense of entitlement. It also gives a sense of real purpose and the right kind of self esteem. God needs people in all walks of life in order to reach those who have not heard the good news of salvation.