Today: [2 Thessalonians 3:] Be Quiet and Mind Your Own Business! In the closing chapter of 2 Thessalonians Paul takes direct aim at idle and meddlesome Christians. He instructs the congregation to separate themselves from these malcontents for the sake of the solidarity of the church and the character of their testimony. Do you have such people in your life? This chapter will help you know what you can do to make things better.
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[2Th 3:1-18 KJV] 1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have [free] course, and be glorified, even as [it is] with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all [men] have not faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 6 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. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count [him] not as an enemy, but admonish [him] as a brother. 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord [be] with you all. 17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen.
In v. 1 of our chapter Paul again requests prayer from the saints on his behalf. Through his writings, Paul asks for prayer 25 times. He set great store by the prayers of the people. He may have corrected his readers, chastised them and instructed them, but his reverence for their formidable prayer lives is undeniable. In this instance, he asks them to pray that the word of the Lord would have “free course.” The verbiage in the original language includes the meaning of haste in extreme peril and running the race. Paul wants the word of God to be glorified as it was when he was with the Thessalonians. Did he know what he was asking for? When he was in Thessalonica, he experienced some of the most bitter persecution in his life up to that time. He also asks for prayer that they would be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men and those without faith.
Kitty and I can relate to the acute sense of needing the prayers of the saints. When people pray, we are aware of it. When the prayer covering lifts it is unmistakable. In our ministry (being very public and reaching worldwide every day) we consistently encounter the evil and the unreasonable. What is the difference? Evil men are those without faith who believe in nothing. Unreasonable people that we face are those who claim to have faith yet they could care less what the bible says or whether we are in line with the plain message of the scriptures if they choose to stubbornly reject our preaching or prophesying. They have their mind made up and don’t want to be confused with the facts.
In v. 3 Paul testifies and prophetically states that God will establish the people and keep them from evil. How can he say this? Doesn’t God choose to put people through difficult circumstances for His greater glory? Why would Paul pray in such as to deny the Thessalonians the opportunity to work on their testimony? Those who glibly pat the suffering on the back and encourage them to be strong in what God is allegedly putting them through either do not know the scriptures or have twisted the scriptures beyond recognition.
Beginning in v. 6 Paul gives specific instructions regarding difficult people in the midst of the church. He instructs that the saints withdraw themselves from every brother that walks unruly or in a disorderly fashion relating to his teachings and example in their midst. The word disorderly here is a military term meaning to break ranks or not to be out of position. In other words, those who choose to not to walk in solidarity with other brothers and sisters. What about the out of church demographic? Estimates today suggest that a large percentage of born again believers choose not to connect themselves in any substantive way with other believers. These from Paul’s perspective are not those who are more rooted in God but instead are disorderly and should be rejected.
He goes on (v. 8) to remind them that he made an effort to set a good example by not allowing any particular accusations to be leveled against him as having taken advantage of them in any way. It isn’t because he didn’t have the right or the power as he terms it to receive offerings of support from them. He instead was making the point that working for a living is a necessary responsibility to all (as if that had to be said). He declares in v. 10 that those of their number who decided not to work for a living but sponge off of the church should not be allowed to share their meals. A person who doesn’t work doesn’t eat. That’s pretty plain. One of the problems with this (v. 11) is that those who were declining to work by choosing to live off the generosity of the believers instead gave themselves over to meddling in the affairs of the people’s lives and therefore were a double nuisance among them. To these Paul commands (v. 12) that they are to be quiet, get a job and eat their own bread. If any disobeyed what Paul was saying the instruction was to have no company with them that they might be ashamed of themselves. Are there people in your life that fit this description? I know I’ve had family members who refused to work and became obstinant and pestilential in their behavior causing great frustration to the family. It is the same in the church. Can you imagine your pastor making a note of the perniciously unemployed in the church and taking them aside to encourage them and admonish them to get a job? What would be the response you think he or she would get? What if an announcement was made about a church dinner, but the unemployed were not invited? Or that sister so-and-so was singled out with the explanation “you are a busy-body, so you stay home till you learn to be quiet…” If your pastor did this would the congregation approve or would they erupt in anger and resentment? It isn’t that such people are to be treated as enemies, they just need to be corrected. How many churches or congregations have been damaged over the years by meddling and idle people? They drive off good hardworking families and fill the ranks of the church with more like themselves, and the church is diminished, and her testimony disparaged. It may be difficult but these verses are in our bibles for a reason, and we ignore them to our hurt.
Paul concludes with a prayer that the God of peace would give the people peace. He writes this because surely the people are upset that he is assigning them the distasteful task of dealing with things they would rather sweep under the rug. Paul ignores their frustration and assures them it will be ok and that they should go ahead and obey God, and things will work out. What about you? Do you have obstinate, unruly, meddling, idle people in your life? It’s time to do something about it. Not because you think you are better than they are or because they are an enemy but because your peace and the solidarity of the group you are a part of should be valued above pandering to lazy, or mean spirited troublemakers.
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