Welcome back Bible friends! We are approaching the end of our study together in 1&2 Thessalonians, but we are going to delay our entry back into port until tomorrow because there is just too much packed into these last verses to get it all in today! So stay aboard and let’s finish the week strong!
Yesterday we began chapter 3 where Paul taught believers to pray, and today we’ll pick it up in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, where he addresses idleness and disorder. Take a moment to read all of chapter 3.
Paul wanted believers to be ready to meet the Lord! Jesus said in Matthew 24:42-44 that the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not know and do not expect. Therefore, believers in Paul’s day and believers today were told to be ready and watching for His coming. Paul prepared the church at Thessalonica. Are we prepared today?
Let’s begin in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. Paul is exhorting believers to stay committed to the Word. The word “command” in this verse is a military term implying “no other option.” Paul did not say, “Hey guys, you might want to consider this.” Instead he said, “I give you no other option…” It is the same word Jesus used to cast out demons! “I command you to come out!”
So, what was the command? Paul was instructing “brethren” (believers) to withdraw (keep away) from every “brother” (also a believer) whose life is disorderly. Wow! One Christian is to stay away from another Christian whose walk is disorderly! So, what does “disorderly” mean?
Good question! It is also a military term meaning “out of step.” One who refuses to march to the cadence of the commander and the rest of the unit! That is a person living in rebellion! True, some have legitimately been wronged by authorities in the church. That is not rebellion. However, God establishes authority and, as we prepare for the coming of the Lord, we are to march in unison with the body of Christ under the command of those put in authority over us.
Some believers set wrong examples when they carry forth a mindset that says, “Jesus is coming back, so let’s just veg out and wait for him” That is disorderly! Have you heard the phrase, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Indeed, idle Christians become lazy Christians, who then tend to gossip and cause division. They become busybodies, sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong! What did Paul warn them of earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4:11?
Let’s move on to verses 7-10 of 2 Thessalonians. Paul comes right out and says, “We weren’t disorderly (idle) around you, so learn from us!” Paul was invested in the lives of others. What does that mean? Read Philippians 4:9. Are you able to say that to others?
Paul was not idle. Scripture tells us he was a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3) and he worked diligently in order to earn his keep. There is something to be said about hard workers! God doesn’t call idle people, He calls those who work! Here are some great examples:
- God called Moses while shepherding sheep. (Exodus 3)
- Joshua was Moses’s assistant when he was promoted to Commander of Israel (Exodus 33)
- Gideon was a wheat farmer when he was called to fight for God (Judges 6)
- God called Elisha while he was plowing his field (1 Kings 19)
- David was a shepherd when God called him to be king (1 Samuel 16)
- Within the church body, don’t complain about what is wrong, do something about it! That is probably God showing you where He wants you to serve!
- God speaks through His Word. If you are not reading your Bible, you will not hear what God wants you to do!
- Rather than asking God to take our lives and make them His own, why not give up our lives voluntarily to Him!
- If you want to find Jesus, go where the Father is working. (Read Luke 2:49 and John 2:5)
We already mentioned that Paul was a tentmaker by trade. Read carefully what he says in verse 8. Notice that he worked, labored and toiled in order not to be a burden. Let’s consider those words. Paul worked hard, labored hard and toiled to the point of exhaustion in order not to be a burden to anyone. We are to follow his example. We are to be servants who work, labor and toil.
Have you ever seen a “kingdom builder” who is more interested in building their own kingdom than being a servant in the Kingdom of God? You know them. Others do the work for them, others toil and labor…and they become a burden. They use people to promote themselves and the “ministry” becomes a stage to display themselves, where they often they talk about “My ministry this…and my ministry that…” They are not examples of Jesus, or of Paul!
Also, if it is called a ministry, why is there a charge? What price tag can be put on ministry? Here is Paul’s example:
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.~1 Corinthians 9:16-18 [emphasis mine]
When we freely give to our churches and ministries, it should be just that: freely given. Not a charge, and not a coercion. For those who pressure and guilt people into giving, one has to wonder if it is truly ministry or simply a money-making scheme. In fact, one of the most disheartening things I know of are ministries who work diligently to get into the pockets of believers, yet executives of those ministries make much more than those who give, and they live very luxurious lifestyles. That is just not Biblical! Beware of where your offerings go!
Work is a noble thing and Paul demonstrated that. So did Jesus. Matthew 13:55 identifies Him as a carpenter’s son, though the Greek word (tekton) could be translated “artisan,” meaning He could have worked with different materials, such as stone. But, let’s consider for a moment that Jesus was a carpenter. Do you think He would have been just an average carpenter, or do you think He was probably the best carpenter around? We don’t really know because the Bible doesn’t tell us. But, given Jesus’s character, you can bet He was the best carpenter He could humanly be. (Though still 100% God, while on earth, He chose to lay aside His privileges as God to become human.) What does that teach us about our jobs, careers or professions?
Now, let’s go one step further. Read Matthew 11:28-30. Consider that the best carpenter on earth designs and fits your yoke. What does that tell you about His ability to “yoke you” and give you rest? Amazing, huh!
We will finish the book of 2 Thessalonians tomorrow, and will find a church made ready for the Bridegroom! Don’t miss it…see you then!