‘Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.’ — 2 Thessalonians 3:12
Every place and culture has its challenges. And every Christian has their own areas of weakness in which they need to mature. For some at Thessalonica, it was in the area of work. Unfortunately, some of the believers there who were able to work did not work and expected others to take care of them.
This was such a serious problem that Paul had referred to it in his first letter (1 Thess 4:15 ‘warn them that are unruly’). Now in his second letter, he spends most of the third chapter addressing it.
Notice several things:
- Unwillingness to work is such a serious thing that Christians are to withdraw themselves from other Christians who can work but won’t work to support themselves (v.6).
- Paul and those with him worked to support themselves when they were at Thessalonica to provide an example of how to work (v.7-9). This did not mean they did not have the right to be paid for their work, but they really wanted to show them how to work.
- Those who will not work should be allowed to eat (v.10). Their hunger would motivate them to get to work.
- Laziness and disobedient to God’s Word in this area causes people to be ‘busybodies’ in other people’s affairs (v.11).
- The strong command of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ is to work quietly and eat their own bread (v.12).
- Those who are working hard should also not get weary when they see others slacking off (v.13).
- Once again, we are told to have no company with the lazy person that he might be ashamed (v.14). We are not to treat him as an enemy but to admonish (teach, instruct) him as a brother.
How are we doing in this area? Are we working hard? Or do we expect others to take care of us when we will not put in the effort ourselves?
Laziness is a serious sin. The approach God advised Christians to have to a lazy Christian is similar to the approach toward immoral Christians (see 1 Corinthians 5).
May God help us to not be ‘disorderly’ but to get to work. Those who are working hard should not be weary in well doing and should be prepared to withdraw from those who do not obey God’s Word.