Thursday, September 18, 2014

Working and eating - 2nd Thessalonians 3:6-13

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good." (2nd Thessalonians 3:6-13)
Work is part of the redemptive plan of God. From the very beginning man was created to tend the Garden of Eden, but when they sinned, they were turned out. As part of God's redemptive plan for them, and the whole human race, He gave them work. "Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field;  By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:17-19) The ground was cursed, not because God despised work or the benefits of work, but rather to force man to work for what he needs. Previously the ground produced its harvest by itself, but now it would require the work of human hands. Though this command to work was the result of the fall of man, it wasn't punitive but rather redemptive, as all God's works are. Paul further speaks of the redemptive nature of work when exhorting those who who steal. "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good." (Ephesians 4:28) Their work working together with their repentance to produce redemption in their lives.

However, some found work beneath them, and this was a common sentiment among the elite and wealthy of the Greek and Roman world, yet Paul's command to them was to work with their own hands, providing for their needs themselves rather than relying on other to do it for them. Even Paul, in his own ministry, although he had the right to earn his living from his ministry, worked with his own hands to provide for his needs and the needs of his team that he might not be a burden and that he might be an example of how we all ought to work and lead a quiet life.

It seems to me, at least in the circles I travel, that among many young believers there is a great desire for ministry and a little desire for work. They want to do ministry full time, fully supported by the church, without having to lower themselves to the level of having to work for a living. However, it seems to me that most people God called in the scriptures were successful people in their own right; people who succeeded in their own work and profession. God doesn't often call people who are sitting on the sidelines waiting to be called. Worse than that, they learn to be idle, undisciplined, and meddlers in other people's business. God's call for them is to work, provide for their needs, grow in spiritual graces, and serve the Lord where ever He should call them. One day, they too might see a burning bush and hear God's call, and depart to the work the Lord is calling them to, but until then, work!

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment