Dealing with Idlers

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Some messages of truth are hard to hear. Nevertheless, a family has to have expectations of family members if it is going to function productively and impact the community around it positively. The way one “bad apple” behaves can destroy the influence of the whole family and can bring disorder and frustration to the whole family.

Today’s message is a hard message. Paul and the church in Thessalonica were facing a real problem. The group of disciples in Thessalonica had some folks who were “idler busy-bodies” — folks who didn’t work and went around sticking their noses into everyone else’s business telling these productive folks how to live their lives. The idlers’ reputations were rubbing off on the whole body of believers. The result was that the church was becoming more and more disrespected in the community. So Paul sent some instructions to the Thessalonians about how to discipline these idlers, the purpose behind this discipline, and the principles upon which the discipline was built.

Paul taught the Thessalonian Christians to discipline these “idler busy-bodies” by warning those who were lazy and who were depending on the church to take care of them. If they didn’t change their lazy ways, the church family was to “withdraw” from active fellowship and support of the idlers. There should be no more help for folks too lazy to work.

Paul reminded the Thessalonian disciples of the purpose of this discipline. The goal was to restore these brothers and sisters to fruitful lives of service. This discipline was to be done with an attitude of helping a family member, not treating this idler as an enemy.

Paul also helped the Thessalonian believers recall his own teaching and example when he was with them. He had purposefully worked hard when he was among them to set an example so they could see what it looked like to work hard and not depend on others for support.

For Paul, the church family needed to have a reputation in the community as good, decent, hard-working folks: people who “never grow tired of doing good”!

Verses to Live

I know that you sometimes struggle with what to do when people do not seem “to get it” — that is, when they do not realize that they are not going to change their circumstances until they change their behaviors. This complacency is especially true of folks who can work but learn to grow dependent upon support from the church family and become lazy in their own lives. I hope you will read carefully as you see Paul lay down some great principles for you to follow as you try to deal with these kinds of situations.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NLT)

For the sake of the church, brothers and sisters, we insist in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed that you withdraw from any brother or sister who is out of order and unwilling to work, who is straying from the line of teaching we passed on to all of you. You know how essential it is to imitate us in the way we live life. We were never undisciplined nor did we take charity from anyone while we were with you. Instead, you saw how we worked very hard day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to even one person in the community. We had the right to depend on your help and hospitality, as you know; but we wanted to give you a model you could follow, to lay a path of footprints for you to walk in. This is exactly why, while with you, we commanded you: “Anyone not willing to work shouldn’t get to eat!” You see, we are hearing that some folks in the community are out of step with our teaching; they are idle, not working, but really busy doing nothing — and yet still expect to be fed! If this is you or someone else in the community, we insist and urge you in the Lord Jesus the Anointed that you go to work quietly, earn your keep, put food on your own table, and supply your own necessities. And to the rest of you, brothers and sisters, never grow tired of doing good.

If someone disregards the instructions of this letter, make a note of who it is and don’t have anything to do with that person so that this one may be shamed. Don’t consider someone like this an enemy (he is an enemy only to himself) but warn him as if you were redirecting your own brother.

(2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Response in Prayer

Righteous Father, I want to be a compassionate person who helps those in need and yet does not enable those who are lazy. Please give me wisdom and grace to deal with these kinds of situations that I find in my world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.