A Warning Against Idleness

26th Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
Paul quotes his own experience, all his life Paul was a working man using his hands. The Jews glorified work. A man who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to steal. Paul was a trained Rabbi, but the Jewish law laid it down that a Rabbi must take no pay for his teachings. He must have a trade that will satisfy his daily needs by the work of his hands. Thus we find Rabbi’s who were bakers, barbers, carpenters, and a host of other trades.

They believed in the dignity of honest toil and were sure something is lost when they became a scholar. Scholars lost something when they withdrew from life refusing to work with their hands.
Thus, Paul quoted this saying, “if a man refuses to work, neither let him eat. It is the refusal to work that is important.” This has nothing to do with the unfortunate man who through no fault of his own can not work or can find no work to do. Further, Paul says, “he was probably borrowing a bit of good old workshop morality, an industrious worker, who would forbid his lazy apprentice to eat dinner.”
We have a perfect example in Jesus himself. He was a carpenter in Nazareth. Legend has it that he was so good at making ox yokes that people came from near and far to buy one.

There is a story of a man who bought a house without seeing it. He was asked why he did this. His reply was “I know that the man who built the house was a Christian and he built that house with Christian ethics, one brick at a time.”

Paul’s’ instructions that those who disregard the work ethics, would be doubtful of that person’s love for his Christian brothers “All we can do is to aid him in his behavior, that he might see the light of his behavior and repent in his idleness.”

We need to go back to the fall of man is the Garden of Eden and for their failure to obey God’s instructions to not eat from a certain tree. The punishment for their actions, God said Eve would suffer pain in childbirth and Adam would earn a living for himself and Eve by the sweat of his brow.
One of our basic Christian actions is to aid and encourage someone who is idle and is failing to use their god given gifts. The joy that we might encounter when we aid someone like this is far beyond our understanding of the results of that person’s life when they turn a new leaf in their life.

Let us pray.