In the city of Joppa in the days of the early church, a believer named Dorcas (also called Tabitha) “was always doing good and helping the poor.” The poor in that time and culture included many widows. When she fell sick and died, they mourned greatly. But Peter prayed, and by God’s power Dorcas was raised back to life. “Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive” (Acts 9:36–42).
Dorcas was a godly woman who lived out the title of today’s devotional, in contrast to the Thessalonian slackers condemned by Paul. He’d commanded the church not to condone the slothful behavior of certain believers (see yesterday’s study). “They are not busy; they are busybodies” (v. 11), he joked, but with serious intent. They must change their ways (v. 12)! Imagine this letter being read aloud to the whole congregation . . . everyone was probably looking at the guilty persons. This public shaming, though,was lovingly done in order to spur them on to better behavior.
The key principle is found in today’s title, as well as reinforced by today’s verse. We should “never tire of doing what is good” (v. 13). If that sounds impossible, you’re right! Only with God’s love and in God’s strength can we live righteous lives and do good deeds that bring glory to God.
If the Thessalonian idlers did not heed Paul’s command and rebuke (from the public reading of the letter), the other believers should stop associating with them (vv. 14–15). As we’ve mentioned, this was a temporary measure to push them to repentance. In this case, their change of heart would be clear to all, because they’d start working and providing for themselves (v. 12). The underlying purpose of all church discipline is restoration (Gal. 6:1).
>> We live busy lives. But are we busy doing good? Consider how you spend your days and ask yourself if the truth found in this passage should reorder your schedule.
Search our hearts, Lord, and unveil all motives that do not come from you. Show us any “busybody” tendencies in our lives so that we can repent. We want to be busy instead with works of righteousness.