Let’s get to work and jump into this verse immediately. I am looking forward to a mental exercise, a good work out, trying to understand Paul’s command to the believers in Thessalonian 2,000 years ago and to us today.
Let’s hope we can provide something of benefit to those dear readers who spend a few moments with me.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Traditions, we learn from this short passage are taught. Taught by communication, that is through talking or reading/writing. Traditions are not instinctual, or merely a result of some internal thought process. Traditions are handed down, and this is actually one of the defining actions that produces a tradition.
Paul doesn’t directly speak of specific traditions he had handed down to this church in this passage. He does bring up the topic in 3:6. A definite link with 2:5! Ok Paul, thanks for the clarification, but this creates a bit of a confusion. When was the last time you thought of a tradition within the Christian church as a “willingness to work”.
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
Idleness is against the tradition Paul provided to this church, and a good work ethic, if I am reading this passage correctly, is a Christian tradition/practice. This tradition is seemingly so sensitive to wrong influence, that Paul commands those with a work ethic to keep away from idle brothers. This is truly shocking to my mind, since I don’t usually consider idleness as a reason to avoid a brother.
But let us think on this for a moment. Does not the Word teach us to “not covet”? Idleness produces a spirit of covetousness, for an idle man is usually in need. Now I need to be careful to note that the command does not refer to those who cannot work, but to those who will not work. To those who are incapacitated, truly without the ability to perform some type of task to add to the community, the believer is to come along side and provide encouragement, financial assistance and support. To the one who refuses to work though able, Paul commands – STAY AWAY!
This is not, for the believer, a requirement to determine another persons motivations, intentions or desires, but his or her abilities. A man or woman who wants to produce, though incapacitated in some form, may find many hurdles to be productive, but may produce and find purpose. A man or woman who is able and makes excuses – Paul commands – STAY AWAY.
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 10
But Paul – that is so unloving, so uncompassionate, that is, to let a brother or sister to go hungry. How heartless! Are you actually commanding believers to allow others to go hungry? Are believers to refuse to feed an idle brother?
In my opinion (careful dear reader – this is opinion!) to provide funds or gifts for those who will not work is foolish, since the limited funds we have in order to help truly needful souls is being misdirected. The idle able person receiving the funds could be a positive influence in the community, but is allowed to remain useless. No one wants to be useless, unless they are content with simply being a leach.
My wife and I speak of this compassion as “enabling” a sinful life. We have become somewhat “heartless”, in some peoples thinking, but have found folks that were idle (relatively) to become solid workers, building a work ethic that is positive financially, emotionally and physically.
What brings a person to a level of idleness? For the Thessalonians, it was a misunderstanding of the coming of the Lord. Some thought that since He may appear in a few weeks or months, working at a “9 to 5” was foolish. Why work when you can literally just wait? Bad theology creates wrong living!
What can bring a person out of this condition? Man shall not live by bread alone, but dag nab it, he certainly needs bread to live! Without bread, the motivation to work overcomes the desire to be idle, and the brother may become a positive influence for the community.
My friends, if you see a brother being idle, consider Paul’s command. Others may provide for the idle man or woman, enabling their life of ease and causing unnecessary suffering for those who truly have a need. To the extent you have in exercising your decisions, do not encourage a life of idleness.
It is not traditional!
Thanks for joining me in this short series on traditions. Much more may be spoken of on this topic but hopefully the few thoughts shared have produced some trigger to further read the Word and figger it out. A little work in the word would not cause any complaint from the Father, for He loves one who digs and seeks the truth. But it will require some work, and we know now that work is NOT a dirty word when it comes to the will of God!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you would like to receive daily posts from Considering the Bible, click on the “Follow” link below