One of the sad stereotypes of a pastor is that they are lazy bums with an easy life and living off everybody else’s money. I’m a pastor and I hate that stereotype! I believe I work hard as God’s servant and this too was the message Paul was sending to the Thessalonians.
Before he addresses laziness, he asks for prayer and reminds these believers of the greater spiritual battle. We all need to pray daily for God to “deliver us from wicked and evil men.” And Paul was confident that the Lord would do just that.
Then Paul addresses the fact that some of these believers were being idle and lazy. Some may have felt that because Jesus was coming back soon they should quit their jobs, don’t make plans and just wait on the Lord. Paul made it real clear – don’t even hang out with these peeps – they don’t get it! He cites his own example of how to live and serve the body of believers: “We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.” Paul was not a lazy servant of Christ and here he says that no believer should be. They should provide for themselves and their families. As a matter of fact, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." The need to “settle down and earn the bread they eat.” As Paul gives these instructions, he reminds them this is not a salvation issue though and they should “not regard them as an enemy” but rather to “warn them as a brother.” God Word consistently warns against laziness and it’s outcome.
*We are in a spiritual battle every day, one that Satan would love for us to lose. I don’t totally understand all that goes on, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s real and that Satan fights dirty – getting at me thru my family. How about you? Let’s ask God today to protect us from the evil one so we can accomplish the good work HE has for us! (Ephesians 2:10)
*I grew up on a farm in Iowa and am grateful for a father who taught me hard work, loyalty and how to earn a living. I’m sure my dad saw me as lazy at times (as I do my son at times) but I always worked and tried to make him proud. Ever since trusting in Christ as my Savior, I’ve wanted to say thanks back to God by how I live and I’ve wanted to make my Dad in heaven proud. I know I’m not perfect, but I try to work hard for Jesus, not because I have to, but because I want to. We’re committed to staying out of debt because I don’t want our church to see the Freunds as a burden but a blessing. And, we want the role of pastor not to be seen as some kind of freeloading and extortion of people’s hard earned offerings, but a calling to love, shepherd and equip people – specifically students! So how about you? Do those around you see you as a hard worker they can respect, or a lazy freeloader? As ambassadors for Jesus, let’s let our work ethic draw people to Jesus, not drive them away!
*Finally, I don’t believe Paul was teaching us to be “work-a-holics.” There is a difference between leisure & laziness. Relaxation and recreation are needed to balance our lives. For some reading this, it might be that you need to spend a few less hours at your job and more time with your family. It’s one thing to be disrespected at your job for being lazy, it’s much worse to be disrespected by your family because you are not fulfilling your role as spouse and parent. Ok, enough conviction for a Monday.