The current American generation is generally content to go to work and then live behind a screen. Idleness is slowly destroying our communities and our lives; it’s enslaving us. While the church at Thessalonica struggled with idleness for different reasons, Paul’s words to them are directly applicable to us.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12–18. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 5:14–15:
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (ESV).
We have professionalized the role of the Christian with the title “Pastor.” And this has led many people to believe that there is little need for them to work for Jesus. Instead, they attend Sunday services and pay for the work of the church by dropping cash in the offering bucket.
We must combat this mentality. All of us as Christians have a primary calling—to serve Jesus with everything we have.
At Thessalonica, it seems that many Christians had stopped working altogether. This could be because they viewed the return of Jesus as so imminent that there was no need to work. It may have also been that people were abusing the sacrifice of wealthier Christians—living off their charity. Either way, instead of working, a whole group of Christians were idle.
For those who are struggling or weak, Paul desires for the services of the church to help them. And Paul realized that patience is required when helping the impoverished, marginalized, and hurting. Nonetheless, people who can work should step up—both to the work of the church and to earn a living.
The primary mode of ministry is bi-vocational. We work to live. And we turn our work into ministry. But we primarily work for Christ, so that we may continue his work of love to a hurting and broken world.
Christianity is based in love and self-sacrifice. People will inevitably abuse this. When they do, we should not seek recompense; nor should we expect those in need to be able to repay us.
We must seek the good of everyone, despite the difficulties that emerge from offering people self-sacrificial love. And we must each seek to do our part for Jesus and his ministry among us.
In what ways are you living idly—and how can you change that? In what ways can your church community offer self-sacrificial lov,e while asking others to do their part when receiving it?
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