When a person gives of him- or herself, purely for the sake of bringing truth and love to your life, it is deeply moving. There are few acts that more convincingly demonstrate the love of Christ. Paul the apostle knew this to be the case.
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:9–10:
“It was not because we do not have that right [to receive pay], 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” (ESV).
Paul recognized that he and his colleagues had every right to receive pay for their work while in Thessalonica. But instead of doing so, they demonstrated the value of work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8).
Here in 2 Thessalonians 3:7–10, Paul brings up just how hard he worked while in Thessalonica—as an example. He knows that certain people in the Thessalonian church need to move past laziness—especially laziness excused based on misguided theology—and start working again. And he knows that a strong command is needed to make that happen.
The problem Paul is addressing is one we see today. We witness charity being abused. And we see laziness being excused based on a so-called mission (at least I’ve seen this). Paul was so serious about keeping people from abusing charity that he told the Thessalonian believers to not let someone take charity who refused to work. (Of course, he is referencing the able-bodied and those who can find work.)
Paul is essentially saying that people who make theological excuses for not working are misled (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6). Hard work is essential to the gospel going forward, so much so that Paul was willing to work for his food while preaching and teaching regularly.
Each of us should think of ourselves as missionaries who work, for Jesus. And we should expect the same willingness of every Christian in our community.
What is the best tactic for dealing with someone demonstrating laziness and abuse of charity in your Christian community? How can you show people at your workplace Jesus through your work ethic? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.
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