2 Thessalonians chapter 3

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Paul’s Request for Prayer

Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.[b] And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you. May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

An Exhortation to Proper Living

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. 10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

14 Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. 15 Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.[e]

Paul’s Final Greetings

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

17 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. I DO THIS IN ALL MY LETTERS TO PROVE THEY ARE FROM ME.

18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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Allow me to share some stuff I read today

Idleness is not something that we often give much attention to. Why does it matter? Is it really important that we are not lazy? But here Paul discusses the importance of not being idle and why it is so important that Christian believers are people who live on purpose for the glory of God. We have here a warning, an example, and an instruction.

First, the warning. In verse 6, Paul strongly warns them – “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you…” – to stay away from those who are idle and disruptive and do not live according to the teaching that they had received. Why such a strong warning, indeed a command? Because if someone is lazy and does not actually put into practice what they have heard, then they end up being disruptive. An old phrase was: idle hands are the devil’s workshop. It means that if you are not busy about doing good things, then it it is easier to succumb to temptation to do bad things.

Second, the example. From verses 7 to 10, Paul reminds them of his own example. He certainly could have lived on the generosity of these Christians – the famous apostle Paul could have ensured he was treated as a celebrity – but instead he worked hard. He didn’t even allow anyone to pay for his food. He worked night and day so he would not be a burden to anyone. And as he lived like this, he also gave them a saying in this regard to remember: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. He would not let Christians sponge off other Christians; you must be willing to work.

Third the instruction. Those who are busybodies – not busy with work but busy messing with other people’s business, gossiping and causing problems – he urges to settle down and earn the food they eat. Someone who has too much time on their hands should work, find a job, earn a living. And Paul says all of us, brothers and sisters, are to never tire of doing what is good.

All of this means that the gospel has a surprising corollary (a result that should naturally follow): work. Justification by faith alone, the gospel of grace and mercy, must nonetheless lead to work. And this is such a serious and necessary corollary that if someone is idle or lazy, they must be warned, and if they refuse to receive such a warning, then – Paul is saying – stay away from them. Don’t be drawn into gossipy chit chat. Instead, work hard for the Lord, and never tire of doing what is good. For the more we are realize what Christ has done for us, the more we will want to do whatever he asks us to do.

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Lord, help us all to never grow weary, but that we find our rest in you. Help us all to work hard and not have idle hands. Amen.

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