Work is Commanded – II Thessalonians 3:10

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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We know a young Christian adult, with no ambition to find regular employment, still living at home with parents. Instead there is a complete contentment to live off others. When we carefully encouraged this Christian to join a sibling working at Walmart, this individual told us plainly: “I don’t need money.” We explained that everyone needs money for food, transportation, housing, clothing, and simply to follow the instructions in Scripture. However, this one remained undeterred and became angry that we would suggest the need to work.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear and consistent in the instruction that every able-bodied believer should be industrious in the area of gainful employment. When some believers at Thessalonica stopped working, Paul told them they should “study to be quiet…and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (I Thessalonians 4:11). When they did not heed this instruction, he repeated it, saying: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10). Notice, in both instances, Paul’s instruction for everyone to work was not just a suggestion. It was “commanded.” Why is this so important? Work is God’s design to responsibly provide for one’s own needs. These verses clearly state that those who shirk the responsibility to work should not be allowed to eat. Providing them with food only enables their wrong behavior. Another purpose of God is revealed in Ephesians 4:28 “…let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Whether giving to further the work of the Lord or to help believers in genuine need, God instructs us to work. Even young widows are required to work lest “…they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (I Timothy 5:13). Work helps to prevent other wrong patterns of behavior by filling one’s time with wholesome activity. The Scriptures are also full of instructions clearly explaining how wrong it is to be “slothful,” or lazy (consider Proverbs 18:9; 24:30; Ecclesiastes 10:18, and many more).

If you are responsibly working, you are to be praised. Keep it up. If you are not, it’s time to demonstrate real spirituality and maturity by getting to work. If you are enabling someone who won’t work, withdraw that enablement today. God “commanded” it through Paul’s letters.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."