The province of British Columbia has been trying to implement the “Idle free B.C” program for a number of years now. The message they are sending declares that unnecessary idling of vehicles wastes fuel and results in emissions that degrade the local air quality and contribute to climate change. They are taking proactive measures now to ensure that the health of the environment is sustainable for the generations to come.
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians gives us a descriptive warning against idleness of a different sort, a behaviour that falls within our human nature that can have an effect on the “local air quality”. “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” (3:11). The idle and disruptive nature that Paul describes here can also be seen as disorderly and irresponsible. There were those among the Thessalonians who felt that with the day of the Lord coming near they didn’t have to work or make any contribution to society, often adding a burden to others. These “busybodies” as Paul calls them work their way into the business of others as they work to live according to the model set before them by the Apostles (a model of self-sacrifice and commitment to doing their best in their service for God). Paul’s instruction to the believers is direct and to the point when it comes to these idle and disruptive people, “Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed.” (3:14).
Even as Paul’s command to the people might seem cold and hard he continues in verse 15 with further instructions, “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer”. We are not to hate these people, God calls us to show them love through instruction and teaching so that they can be set free from the grip of evil and destruction. As we work diligently to be faithful and loving in our relationships with God and others we are called to be an example to others. As hard as it seems at times let us heed the words of the Apostle Paul when he says, “brothers and sisters, never tire (become discouraged or disheartened) of doing what is good”. (3:13)
Paul understood the power of prayer; you might think this is an obvious statement and wonder why I might even bring it up. As we read through 1 & 2 Thessalonians we see over and over how Paul is dedicated to praying for the Thessalonians, he knows the challenges they will continue to face and can rejoice and be thankful with them for the good things the Lord has done in their lives.
Paul as an apostle, as a leader is setting the bar for how we need to be living today as Christians in what I think we can consider a similar situation as the Thessalonians only in a different time and place. Today we as leaders have to have the same passion for prayer as Paul did, we need to be praying for the people in our churches and in our communities constantly.
As we continue to grow as leaders and committed followers of Christ one of the things we can learn from Paul is not to be afraid to ask for prayer. Even as Paul continually prays for others he is asking for prayer as he carries on the work of the Lord. We need to humble ourselves and be open and available to ask for prayer in our own lives and for the work of the Lord to be accomplished through the gifts he has given us.
After dropping a letter in the mailbox or clicking on the send button to send off an email have you ever wondered if you would have to write a second letter to explain yourself? I wonder if Paul after writing his first letter to the Thessalonians wondered the same thing.
In his first letter we read into the references about the believers who have died and the day of the coming of the Lord. There would have been some confusion and questions, as Paul may not have had the proper amount of time among the people to explain the details and circumstances around these topics. After receiving word that the Thessalonians were concerned regarding the coming of the Lord in their own lifetime, Paul writes this second letter to help clarify his previous statements.
In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul continues to encourage and pray for them as they grow in their understanding of their new life in Christ. Paul had to reassure the Thessalonian people that even though they were experiencing troubles they were not the troubles that signaled the end times. Paul continues to be a strong voice in teaching them to stand strong and hold on to the teachings he had given them. Verses 16 and 17 offered a powerful encouragement to the Thessalonians and is still a timeless passage for us today to be encouraged and strengthened.
15 “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word”.