2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

Choose Your Friends Wisely.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister. – 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 NLT

Not every fellow believer in Christ is someone you necessarily want to associate with. Some are more serious about their faith than others. Some refuse make the pursuit of Christ-likeness a high priority in their lives. There are those who, while professing faith in Christ, live much more like the world. In the city of Thessalonica, living among the believers there, were a group of individuals who were living undisciplined lives. They refused to work. They were mooching off of others and ignoring the clear command given by Paul when he was with them: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b NLT). Rather than pull their weight, they were becoming a burden and a nuisance to others in the fellowship. Even Paul used himself as an example of someone who modeled a life of diligence when he was with them. Rather than allow them to take care of his daily needs, he worked. He did his part.

We don’t know why these people weren’t working. Paul doesn’t tell us. Perhaps they were lazy. Or it could have been that they saw no reason to work, because they believed the Lord would be returning any day. They could have also spent more of their time pursuing “spiritual” things. But as the old saying goes, we can sometimes be too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Cloistering ourselves away in our room studying Scripture may sound pious and a worthy ambition to pursue, but in the body of Christ, each must do his or her part. That’s why Paul was very clear when he wrote, “We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:12 NLT). He told those who were doing their part and working hard to keep up the good work – to not grow weary of doing the right thing. Sometimes in the Christian life, it is the little things that end up making a big difference. A Christian employee who is lazy and unreliable ends up giving the cause of Christ a bad reputation. Those who earn for themselves a reputation for being undependable and lacking in diligence, do not leave a good impression about Christians among the unsaved. So how are we to react to these kinds of people? Paul pulls no punches. He simply says, “Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 NLT). Stay away from them. Don’t associate with them. Don’t validate their behavior by spending time with them. Instead, warn them. Do as Paul did and point out their fault – in love. Don’t overreact and treat them like they’re unsaved or an enemy of the faith. But make sure they understand that you see their behavior and disapprove. They will be better off in the long run and the body of Christ will be stronger as a result.

Father, sometimes it is way too easy for us to tolerate the lack of discipline among ourselves. We compromise our convictions and give in far too easily to a spirit of laziness and apathy. Help us to take our faith seriously, both individually and corporately. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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