Faithlife Sermons

"Idleness"_II Thessalonians 3_Jan 17 2021



Before we get started - pray...
Finally: End of I & II Thessalonians
Bibles - II Thess 3
I have a short message today
We’re going to look at the subject of idleness -
What is it?
What is the Christian response to idleness?
Why is idleness so harmful?
And if we’re not idle - what about good works?
Before we get into that - a brief review of Thessalonians
It always amazes me - when doing a Bible study - where God leads me
If you’ve ever taught or preached the Word, you know what I’m talking about
I love stories
And God has revealed a story in I & II Thessalonians:
A story of how the gospel of Jesus Christ came to a group of pagans
The gospel which came through a man named Paul
Paul, who discipled these people to grow in Christ, taught them to be a church of faith, hope, and love
This church, who eagerly accepted the gospel - matured, and spread the gospel, and became a great influence throughout the region
It’s a beautiful story of discipleship - and how Paul loved these people - and a lesson for us to love others
And even when Paul couldn’t be with them, he still encouraged them - through his letters - and through Timothy
And because of this gospel, this church discipled other people
This story taught us to love: to love unbelievers - Love with the right motives - Love, encourage, and instruct other believers
The story taught us to walk more and more like Jesus
We learned about our sanctification and how to live for Jesus -
Because we’ve been set apart to serve him
This story taught us that we need to stand firm in the faith - and that we will also obtain the glory of Jesus
And the overarching theme of this story?
Have a sense of urgency in your faith
Apply what you’ve been taught
Live your life for Jesus as though Jesus was coming back today
Chapter 3 is the last chapter of this story
And Paul ends this story with one main theme: idleness
Look with me - starting verse 6:

Warning Against Idleness

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. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

The language Paul uses is very strong
This is not a suggestion - he commands them to keep away from those who walk in idleness
Notice - Paul does not command them on his authority, but on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ
The verb command is used as a person of authority would use it
Like in Luke 8 - when Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man
Here, Paul is commanding this church to stay away from these people
Social distance yourself from them - don’t even get near them...
This is other Christians he is talking about
So that means that even Christians can fall into the sin of walking in idleness
In verse 14, Paul says “have nothing to do” with that person - so that they may be ashamed
But - don’t regard that person as an enemy, but as a brother
Idleness is a sin
The idleness Paul is talking about is vocational - he’s specifically talking about people not willing to work for a living
Please note - “not willing to work” - plenty of valid reasons why people are not able to work
The Bible is very clear that we need to help & protect those who are unable to help themselves - the weak, the widows & orphans, etc
Paul already addressed idleness in Thessalonians
1 Th 4:11 …to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you...
I Th 5:14 …admonish the idle...
The Bible is full of warnings against the sluggard - the one who is idle
Pr 26:13–16
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
14  As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
Pr 6:6–11
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise
There’s another type of idleness - referring to those who are not willing to do the Lord’s work
I have heard the argument from some Christians: “Christ did it all, so there’s nothing for us to do”...
When you became a Christian, you were saved and made right with God because Jesus did do everything
He did it all on the cross
But in another sense, your work in God’s kingdom just got started
Notice that when you became a Christian, you weren’t immediately whisked away to Heaven
Part of God’s kingdom is here on Earth
He did the work to allow you into his kingdom - now go and serve him
Serving the Lord demonstrates that your faith is real
When you serve the Lord, it shows that you even have faith
And really - when you serve the God, it shows that he is your Lord - not just your Savior...
Let me ask - what if Paul didn’t respond to God calling him to Macedonia - Acts 16?
Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
James 4:17
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 2:14-17
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Then there’s the Parable of the talents
Two of the servants use what was given to them
And what did the master call the one who did nothing? “Wicked servant”
Doing good works is not a checklist of items you’re supposed to do
Good works need to flow from you because that’s who you are in Christ
The Spirit has given you his fruit - your job is to let it flow from you
1 Th 5:19 Don’t quench the Spirit
I’ve also heard the argument: your good works prove you’re a true Christian
Actually, it’s your love which is the proof
And actually, it’s not even your love - it’s the love of Christ in you - which flows out of you
People need to see Jesus through you
People don’t actually need your good works - they need Jesus through those works - even an atheist can perform good works
As you grow closer to Jesus in your walk with him - your own version of who Jesus is, should shine
Because as the world looks upon you, they should see a true version of Jesus
Tony Evans: Christians are like the moon - we’re not the Light - our job is to reflect God’s light in this dark world
Matt 5:14 You are the light of the world.
But if the church would just shine the love of Jesus - through acts of service - in all humility - we can change the world
But don’t let your motivation be to prove who you are in Jesus - that’s not your job
Your good works are there to prove who Jesus is in you
Good works of Jesus only happen through love and humility
If your good works consist of you helping in a soup line at a homeless shelter once a year - so you can get a selfie of yourself -
Do us all a favor - and stay home
If you’re helping people because you feel you know more about the Bible than they do - if you feel superior to others when you’re helping them - and you feel they could never offer you anything because you’re more spiritual -
Seriously, stay home
And get on your knees and ask God to forgive you
Honestly, God doesn’t need your good works
He doesn’t need your sacrifices to him - so you can check it off your list
He does want to use you - as you are walking in him
Aim to serve the Lord in total love and humility
Matt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
That’s why we serve the Lord - so all the glory goes to him
And if you have no humility when you’re serving him - you’re not really serving him
Let me sum this up:
Keep yourself from idleness
And stay away from others who are idle - love them and pray for them
But as Paul says in verse 13 of this text: do not grow weary in doing good
Do good works - but do them with the right motivation
Serve the Lord in love and humility
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