6. The Application of the Word of the Lord
The Word of the Lord must be obeyed and applied in the church.
“6 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. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
I. The Authority of the Word Lord vv 6-17
II. The Blessing of the Word of the Lord vv 16-18
Quick Thought: Thinking Biblically About Work Ethic
Today’s passage touches upon the subject of work and work ethic, though, unfortunately in our sermon we do not spend much time on it. It is nevertheless a subject we need to think and and talk more about. Here is a starter:
Central to the Reformation was the rediscovery that we are justified by faith instead of by works. With this went a conviction that we can glorify God in ordinary life and work, and not just in spiritual activities. This view (the Protestant work ethic) is often blamed for our overwork culture: work is good, so the more work the better. But the problem is a secularised version of this work ethic. God is taken out of the picture. Work for the glory of God becomes work as an end in itself. It becomes the means by which we prove ourselves, that is, justify ourselves. Justification by (religious) works becomes justification by work. And so we are busy, busy, busy trying to prove or justify ourselves to God, to others or to ourselves.
Consider how tempting it is to tell everyone how busy we are. We want to prove ourselves to other people, to be respected by people, to demonstrate our worth. We rank importance in terms of busyness. But proving yourself is just another term for justifying yourself. Bruce Milne, commenting on Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished”, says:
“The Christian is called to affirm the completeness and sufficiency of that sacrifice by trusting in it constantly and by exhibiting the peace and confidence which are the fruit of such a trust. Our often strained and frenetic forms of Christian life are witness to how much we need to affirm again with Jesus,―It is accomplished! It is finished!” (Bruce Milne, The Message of John: here is your king (Bible Speaks Today, IVP, 1993), 283)
Life Group Questions
Can you think of situations where knowledge about something is not related into action? To what extent does this seem to the group identified as “idle” in this passage?
Review of the Text
- How does Paul reveal the seriousness of the situation within verses 6, 14 and 15?
- What do we know about the group to whom Paul was opposed? (see 1 Thess. 4:11-12; 5:14 and 2 Thessalonica. 3: 6, 11)
- What example had Paul set for believers? See vv 7 and 8 and 1 Thess. 2:7-12)
- In what other ways were this group being a burden to the others in the church family? (see vv 7-10)
- What is the instruction which Paul gives to these people at verses 11, 12?
- How do you think verse 16 fits in directly with verses 6-15 and especially verse 15?
Apply the Text
- Why do you think that this problem had arisen in Thessalonica?
- Do you think that there was anything within the surrounding culture which may have led them into this sort of behaviour? (e.g. Acts 17:21)
- What place should ‘good works’ have within the Christian life?
- How can we interpret this passage in situations where paid employment is virtually impossible to find?
- Pray for faithfulness in understanding God’s words and applying them to the whole of life.
- In what ways can we close down any secular / sacred divide n our lives?