In fixer-upper shows, the most amazing transformations happen when a house has experienced neglect. Ceilings leak. Floorboards are rotted. The structure has disintegrated due to the neglect of the previous owners. It takes a lot of hard work (and money) to restore the home to its former glory.
Neglect can have a detrimental effect on the Christian life as well. Apparently, sloth or laziness was a problem in the Thessalonian church (v. 6). Some believers had been depending on wealthy Christians to provide for their needs as part of a secular patronage system. They weren’t willing to do physical work, because that meant a loss in social status. Instead, they were being “disruptive” with their idle time. The seriousness of the problem was indicated by Paul’s formal command against it “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 6).
Believers were to “keep away” from such people. This was not a complete break in fellowship, but a temporary, disciplinary withholding for the purpose of reconciliation (see vv. 14–15). Paul and his team had set an instructive, contrary example (vv. 7–10). They’d worked hard and not asked for financial support in order not to be a burden on the young church and not be negatively viewed regarding their motives (see 1 Thess. 2:9). They practiced what they preached.
The missionaries had a right to financial support, but in that context they chose not to exercise it (v. 9; see also 1 Tim. 5:17–18). Why not? For the sake of the gospel. The apostle didn’t want people to see their presentation of the gospel as financially motivated.
>> Proverbs has many verses about hard work and laziness, including amusing word-portraits of the “sluggard.” Using a concordance to look these up will bring laughter and wisdom!
Father, teach us how to work and how to rest; let us not be guilty of idleness. Help us understand how to “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).