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2 Thessalonians

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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 3:6-12 (ESV)

Posted on May 13, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:6-12 (ESV) -  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.

Question to consider: Was Paul being uncharitable in saying if someone doesn’t work, they shouldn’t eat? Why or why not?

As Christians, we should be doing all things to the glory of God and be generous in every way. We recognize that God owns everything, and that we are stewards in His household who are to take care of what He has given to us to manage. Therefore we work hard at whatever vocation God has given to us and take care of the possessions God has entrusted to us so that we may live within our means and be in a position to build the church and serve our neighbor.

It appears that the Thessalonians were doing a wonderful job of this by making sure no one was in need in the midst of the tribulation they were facing. Some may have had a trade and were kicked out of their guild for not worshiping idols. Some may have been Jewish and kicked out of the synagogue so no one in the Jewish community would hire them. This must have required incredible sacrifice, generosity and patience with one another to support those who couldn’t provide for themselves. Because we live in a sinful world, there are those who recognized the kind spirits and generosity of the Thessalonian church and so tried to take advantage of it.

They may even have justified remaining idle because they believed Christ would return at any moment and didn’t want to begin a new vocation. Paul’s instructions were very clear though. If someone was capable of working and refused to do so, they should not be given a free meal. Paul pointed out that as the one who started their church and ministered to them full time when he was with them, he had every right to expect for them to provide for his needs or take up an offering to give him. Not wanting to be accused of profiting off of the Gospel and desiring to be an example to the Thessalonians, Paul chose to put his tent-making skills into practice and earn his own way. The freeloaders not only remained idle, but they used this idle time to butt into the affairs of others.

It used to be that if you encountered a panhandler in the US, it would be someone who was handicapped in some way and not able to work. Now, there are panhandlers on every highway exit, and all of them appear to be able-bodied. I am grateful that we can give to local Christian organizations and churches. Since they are embedded in the community, they tend to know those who are in serious need of assistance and those who are capable of working but choose not to do so.

Ultimately, our desire to fill a physical need should coincide with attempts to fill their spiritual one. We are not a genuine help to someone when we eliminate a physical need but starve them spiritually. We could be taking away the very thing God is using to bring them to Christ. 


Dear heavenly Father, please stir up in us a desire to glorify You in our daily tasks, and may we keep our eyes focused on our new life in Christ so that we do not become attached or bound by the things of this world. We give You thanks for meeting our needs and caring for us. Amen.