Thursday, August 04, 2022

2022.08.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 3:6–12

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What sort of statement is 2 Thessalonians 3:6? In Whose Name? What must they do from certain brothers? Which ones—how are they walking? According to what are they not walking? Who had not walked this way (2 Thessalonians 3:7b)? And who should follow them (2 Thessalonians 3:7a)? What else didn’t the apostolic team do (2 Thessalonians 3:8a)? What did they do, and when (verse 8b)? Why (verse 8c)? What else were they doing for the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:9)? When in Thessalonica, what had the apostolic team commanded (2 Thessalonians 3:10)? What have they heard about some (2 Thessalonians 3:11)? What didn’t they do in their disorderliness? What were they being, in their disorderliness? Whom does the apostle command in 2 Thessalonians 3:12? Through Whom? That they do what? And eat what?

How do we show charity to those unwilling to work? 2 Thessalonians 3:6–12 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that loving those who refuse to work means helping them love the Lord Jesus and His people.

Withdraw from every disorderly brother, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9. This is the first of three commands that are the main teaching of this passage. This isn’t excommunication; the person in question is still called “brother” in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. But there is a distance to be maintained, which is indicated by the word “withdraw.” This may just be a necessary precaution to keep the brother from applying too much pressure or to keep the tenderhearted believers from giving in to it. 

The disorderliness here is wanting to eat without working. It is contrasted to the apostles’ conduct (2 Thessalonians 3:7); even they paid for their food by laboring and toiling night and day, so that they might not be a burden (2 Thessalonians 3:8). One of the themes of this letter has been that God uses us in one another’s sanctification. Surely, part of that sanctification is trying not to be a burden to others! When God’s difficult providence makes us an opportunity for our brother’s generosity, that’s one thing. But when God’s providence gives us the ability to work, He gives us an opportunity to put our brother first as well.

If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11. Here is the second command. Again, the word “disorderly” features in verse 11. This being “disordered” is evident from the vocabulary at the end of the verse, which can be rather literally translated: not working-at-all but working-around. The idea seems to be that they were going around meddling in other people’s business instead of being busy with business of their own. So, not only were they unwilling to contribute, but they were actually hindering others! For things to be ordered, their intentional un-working-ness should be properly matched to un-eating-ness.

Work in quietness and eat their own bread, 2 Thessalonians 3:12. This is the third and final command that holds our passage together. This particular laziness was tied to a desire to be meddlers in others’ business, so the corrective work is quiet work. Note that this command is given in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the first one was. Love for Christ must be the driving force behind our love for others. But Christ does more than command. He helps! And that is implied by the addition of the word “exhort” here. Our Lord Jesus was diligent, and those who He saves and makes to be like Himself will also be diligent.

In what ways are you tempted to be lazy? When might “helping” someone actually be hurting him?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are always working and accomplishing all Your holy will in this world. Forgive us for when we enable others to hurt themselves or disregard others. And forgive us for when we would prefer to be meddlers rather than workers. Grant that we would be diligent like You, through our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blessed the Man”

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