by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18; Psalm 85:1-13
READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
2 Thessalonians 3:6 “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.”
Some of us might think, what was the big deal? Why was Paul so harsh about people being idle to the extent where fellow believers were commanded to stay away? Subsequent verses of 2 Thessalonians 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4 provide some answers. These persons who chose to stay away from work; were not merely causing their own families to suffer, but they were spreading false teachings that “Jesus is coming back!”
That was probably the reason why they chose not to work; because of the belief that God has revealed to them the time of Jesus’ 2nd coming. Yet, Jesus said it clearly in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day and hour of the Lord’s coming again, not even the angels except for God the Father.
Such idleness and spreading of false teachings threatened the church in Thessalonica. Even at the time when Paul wrote the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, these persons had not repented. Hence, the Apostle Paul commanded believers to stay away from these trouble makers. For these persons, Paul gave the advice for those in faith to warn them as a brother (or sister) but do not regard them as enemies.
The spiritual disease of intentional “idleness” can be potentially harmful to self, family and even the church. This is because when people choose to be idle (when they are physically and emotionally able to live a fruitful life of work/ministry); their minds can be easily held captive by ungodly thoughts and even do destructive things.
I know of a person who is barely 30 years old but chose to idle his life away. His mind is now held captive by harmful teachings of the prosperity gospel and is causing much grieve to his own family and friends. On the other hand, I am often encouraged by seniors among us who are still very active in family life and ministry despite their age.
Today’s reading is a reminder for me not be idle. Even when I am at work or spending time with people; may the Lord help me not to “idle” my mind but to have the mind of Christ. Ironically, it seems that the more we choose not to be idle, we can have more time to spend alone time with God and our families. This is because we are living out the “pace of life” that God has intended; and not what we have often foolishly planned or lazily hoped for.
Heavenly Lord, help me not to be idle but to know that in each hour of my life, how I can order my life according to Your Word. Amen.