II Thessalonians (5)
Introduction: Review of what we have heard from II Thessalonians.
The Thessalonian church is being exhorted and encouraged to walk worthy while waiting for Jesus. How so?
1. Greeting and thanksgiving for their growing faith, increasing love, and steadfastness through persecutions. 1:1-4
2. Appeal to God who will who will bring righteous judgment and retribution to those causing their affliction and relief to the Thessalonian church who are in God. 1:5-12
3. Correction of some false teaching concerning the coming of Christ and being gathered together to Him. God has a detailed plan that will signal the coming return of Christ. He is bringing to pass but have not yet occured. 2:1-12
4. Also, they have been encouraged to stand firm in the gospel and Paul has prayed for them to be directed to the steadfastness of Christ. 2:13-3:5
Transition: Today, the way we find this church (and ourselves) being called to walk worthy while waiting for Jesus is two fold. First, those who are living faithfully are instructed how to interact with those who are not living faithfully. And second, those who are not living faithfully are commanded to to stop being disruptive and quietly get back to work.
Read the text. II Thessalonians 3:6-15
Transition: The way this passage unfolds is basically in three layers. Exhortation, Example, and Encouragement. So let focus first on the exhortation in verse 6.
Explain: The command is offered by the authoritative name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In true apostolic fashion Paul turns the tone of his letter from teaching and laying the framework for correction to now confront some unacceptable activity among the Thessalonian church.
After revealing the authority behind what he is commanding he then addresses the problem. Apparently there were some who were walking in idleness. Perhaps a better English word would be irresponsible or disorderly. It has the military connection of soldier who is not submitting to discipline and falling out of rank. In the context of II Thessalonians these folks are out of accord with the traditions of the gospel that had been recieved and are really participating in rebellious and lawless activity. They were not standing firm as Paul had encouraged them to do but some were proving to be a sign of the coming mystery of lawlessness that was already at work according to 2:7.
Point: The faithful brethren are being exhorted to keep away from those living this way. The word keep away, means to avoid or keep out of the way of someone or something. It means to be caution of the influence that person may have on the rest of the church. There will be more to understand about this toward the end of the passage but we should recognize at the forefront that the Thessalonian church as well as Hillcrest is being exhorted to hold one another accountable to the tradition the that we have recieved, which is as we learned last week the gospel according to the written Word of God.
Application: Tradition often has a negative connotation to it today. Sadly, the word has lost its meaning along the way and taken upon some connotation of old dusty rituals that don't have any meaning to which we want to avoid at all cost in order to accomplish something new and fresh. tradition is often thrown aside as a dirty grease rag that just doesn't have any pragmatic influence or practical use in our day and time. However, the kind of tradition Paul is referring to is not that. He too fought many battles against traditionalist. He would never condone doing manmade traditions that were contrary to the gospel. He would be the first to accuse the Pharisees as Jesus did in Matthew 15:6
he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
Transition: We would do well to walk according to the authoritative gospel that is revealed in the Word of God and to hold one another accountable to remain faithful in those traditions. How should we go about accomplishing that accountability for one another? Before that question is answered Paul first offers his life as an example of one of the traditions that they were taught according to the Scriptures. In other words he uses his example to reveal what the behaviors of the disorderly and idle folks were. We see his example in verses 7-10.
Explain: Paul and Silas were not disorderly or idol when he was with them.(7) Neither did they freeload off of anyone , but rather they worked and payed for their food and not burden anyone.(8) The reason they did this was to show an example to the new believers. It wasn't because they didn't have the right to earn their living from the ministry. Rather they were entitled to double honor because they were working hard at preaching the Word. However, in order be an example to this church they worked for their meal. (9) He reminds them that while he was with them they had a very direct instruction, “That if man is unwilling to work then he should not eat.”
Then he addresses the problem that idleness had produced. (Read II Thess 3:11 )
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
Point: The example of Paul and Silas shows us that they were busy working so that the Word of God would be preached without hindrance. Their ultimate goal was to please the Lord and see His glory made known among the earth. They lived with that one ambition. The disorderly idleness of “some” was hindering the spread of the gospel and hurting the testimony of the church. These irresponsible ones were being called out because they were more concerned about the affairs of others than their own work. They were neglecting their work in order to meddle into the lives other people. They were not putting food on their own table but they were sure concerned about the food on everyone else’s table. The problem isn that they were not busy… they were busy in the wrong direction.
It is irresponsible to be so busy in other people’s business that your own responsibilities are neglected. As followers of Christ and those who hold to the traditions taught from the Word of Christ, we should work quietly and keep our noses in our own business.
Illustration: As much as Paul and Silas are examples for the church as to how to work in an orderly fashion so we have examples to avoid as well. King David’s great failure was a result of idleness. II Samuel 11:1 sets the plot for David’s demise.
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
Application: Idleness and irresponsibility is a root for all sorts of rebellious behavior. The way it was impacting the Thessalonian church was some folks who were busy in the wrong direction, meddling in the affairs of others.
For us today, I think we too are very tempted to be busy in the wrong direction.
One major problem that we faced in the church is being very , very busy with activities that produce no fruit for the Kingdom. We don’t wait with great work, effort and anticipation of the future glory of Christ, but rather we spend ourselves dry on setting up our own glory on this earth. We are busy, but often with the wrong motives and in the opposite direction of Christ.
Transition: What should we do, how do we correct this problem? The answer to that is found in the encouragement offered in verses 13-15.
Explain: Don’t grow weary in doing good. This is what Paul recognized in them I Thessalonians 1:2-3 when he gave thanks for their labor of love. This is what he prayed for in this second letter when he prays in II Thess 2:16-17 . And this is what he encourages them to not grow weary in.
However, he also instructs those who are busy in the right direction, how to hold those accountable who are not. This is a very similar instruction that he gave in I Thessalonians 5:14 Notice now in this 2nd letter he first says in verse 14, to take note of that person. This means to observe that person with caution, or pay close attention to the person. Why? Because if they persist in being busy in the wrong direction then you should have nothing to do with them. Meaning , you should not get mixed up in their affairs of meddling. There is nothing quite so wearying, and distracting than getting caught up in the affairs of idle busybodies.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Story: This reminds me of a old story about a pastor who was out visiting a member of the church. The member would ask the pastor what special items or ministry challenges they might pray for. Unknown to the pastor before he ever left the driveway this person was calling their fiends to express deep concern for the church’s problems, and being a responsible member also offered all the ways in which they could fix these problems. This went on for several months with the pastor entrusting information for prayer and the information ending up back on his desk with all sorts of distorted criticisms, frantic meetings, and letters of concern form other members. Finally, the pastor became wise of the busybody and graciously offered the person a warning. The next time he came to visit, the conversation was prayerful and peaceful. It was a shorter visit, but yet the person ad received the gentle warning and stopped trying to take responsibility for the lives of others.
Transition: even though this is a made up story it is often true of the body of Christ. It is inevitable that the temptation for idleness will always exist in the body of Christ and this is why we must love one another enough to hold one another accountable. When we neglect church disciple for one another we will end up with all kinds of discouragements and weariness. How might we love one another enough regard each other as family , not enemies, and admonish/ counsel them to quietly go about eating their own bread?
See one example in Hillcrest’s Membership Commitment. Page 7&8 #10, “To do the following when a sinful offence has been commited toward me by another brother of sister in Christ: (Read)
Application: Take the initiative to have the conversation with the person and counsel/admonish/warn them with the Word. . If they continue, simply do not get caught up in their busy body ways, but rather stay busy in the right direction. The goal of this is to bring about a Godly sorrow that produces genuine repentance. That it might produce in that person a regard and respect for the tradition of gospel.
Am I busy in the right direction?
Am I busy in the right direction?
Closing: As I observe you're lives… Many many of you are! be encouraged and don't grow weary in doing good! Some, are not. But the Lord knows better than I do. So if He is producing sorrow in your heart today, I plead with you not to resist but to surrender to His kindness and be lead to repentance. Please respond to Christ and His word as we sing this final song together. May God help us to walk worthy while we wait for Jesus.