Read 2 Thessalonians 3
We could probably rename this chapter to be “Understanding Dutch Work-Ethic.” Phrases like, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” remind me of some of the hard lessons I’ve learned about work and responsibility over the years. Not that I’ve ever gone without food, but I have learned the necessity of working hard to have the things that I want.
That lesson, however, is not really what Paul is getting at here in his parting words to the church in Thessalonica. There certainly is an element of that, but it goes much deeper in the community of faith than simply working hard. Paul understands that a community that is not working together will ultimately fail. Indeed, when churches are full of people that are only there to be fed, with a select (sometimes hired) few to do the feeding, they are bound for failure.
We need people to be active participants in the faith community, living out the call of unity and love toward each other. For when times get tough, we lean on each other in this community for strength.
As the human body summons multiple muscle groups to assist when lifting a heavy object, so too does the body of Christ depend on all its members for the often heavy lifting of life and ministry.
Indeed, this is true in our personal walk with Christ as well. Idleness in our relationship with Christ will lead to a plateau in our spiritual growth. All of Scripture calls us to and active relationship with Christ in response to the grace and love that we have been shown by God through Him.
While there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation or increase our favor with God, there is a danger in removing “works” from our vocabulary completely. There is a danger that the enemy exploits far too often, that because everything is taken care of through grace, we don’t need to do anything in our Christian walk. This leads to idle Christians, lack of growth, and ultimately selfish tendencies that destroy disciples and churches. We must be on our guard against that…