2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (7) For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; (8) Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: (9) Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. (10) For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (11) For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (12) Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
God’s people tend to be a generous, gracious and compassionate people, following in the footsteps of a generous, gracious and compassionate Saviour. I have seen, time and time again, people in church go above and beyond in helping to meet the financial and physical needs of others, both inside and outside the church membership. Christianity makes us generous, and I love giving to help others, especially when done anonymously.
Such a generous and compassionate spirit will of course make the Christian susceptible to con artists and others who find him an “easy touch.” And, sometimes people in the church will take advantage of the church, seeing it as a source of income instead of a place or worship and service to Christ.
Apparently this problem existed in Thessalonica. Paul reminded the church that he had set an example for them, working with his own hands as a tent-maker to provide for his basic necessities. This required him to work “night and day,” probably doing his missionary work during daylight hours and burning midnight oil for his income. He then warned the church to step away from those who walked “disorderly,” not working, but busybodies, busy here and there, going from person to person, begging and imposing themselves on others for their bread.
Paul’s COMMANDMENT was that those who did not work did not eat!
No doubt, some would consider Paul to be hard-hearted in this matter. But Paul was more interested in the glory of God, the name of Jesus Christ, and the good of the brethren, than in his own reputation for “compassion.” He knew that Christians who did not work, who begged and were leeches on society and on the church would not have a good testimony with their hard-working lost relatives and neighbors, would not bring glory to God, and would not be doing the right thing for themselves or their families.
Tough times come and I for one am glad to help. I understand, because almost my entire pastoral ministry has been during a recession. I know many have it rough, and frankly, we’ve had it rough in the Rasbeary family a few times ourselves.
But I have learned that there are people with problems, and then there are problem people. All of us will have problems. But problems follow some people like the cloud of dust around Pigpen in Peanuts. Sometimes, problems are beyond anyone’s control – they are disasters or tragedies. Often, however, problems are just the product of foolish living, bad decisions, and disobedience to scripture.
Let me share with you some things that cause me to “cool off” when it comes to financially helping people:
- When someone can work, but won’t.
- When people do not tithe or honor God with what they have (Mal 3).
- When someone keeps getting fired or keeps quitting jobs because of poor character.
- When people are broke but manage to eat out. Eating out is a treat, not a necessity.
- When people are broke but can still find money for their addictions (cigarettes, liquor, etc).
- When people are broke but can still find money to gamble or buy lottery tickets.
- When people are broke but still manage multiple smart phone plans, satellite TV, etc.
- When people are broke but refuse to work second jobs. Someone has said, “Every time I prayed for money, God gave me work to do.”
- When people are broke but refuse to sell things to pay off their debts.
- When people are broke because they squandered all their money foolishly – and have no intention of changing their ways.
Hard hearted? Paul did not think so. He gave commandments to the church about it. Let us be givers but let us not subsidize a welfare mentality that expects something for nothing. It’s wrong on a national scale and it’s wrong on a local scale and it’s wrong in the church.
Thank you for reading. God bless.