Being idle and a busybody
Lesson text: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 5/23/09
Because there was confusion over whether the day of the Lord had arrived some of the Thessalonians stopped working. They just quit their jobs or stopped farming whatever they did for work and not only did they stop working but they were eating other people’s food. They were living off of others. Some had become like leeches. Now we are encouraged to help those in need but these Thessalonian Christians were not incapable of working they stopped working because they had been told the day of the Lord has come. So we are not talking about people who have loosed jobs or are incapable of working were talking about people who are have become idle, lazy.
There have been many times throughout history when people have come along and set dates for the end of the world and those who follow the person or organization often leave their jobs and families and sell all they have and just wait for the end to come. I think that’s one reason among many that God doesn’t tell us when the end is going to happen because we are not to become idle and lazy but we are to keep working in all areas of our life till Jesus comes and the final judgment happens.
Paul will give four warnings in this passage to different groups of Christians in Thessalonica. Those who are not living in idleness and those who are.
1. Warning to stay away from those who are idle
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.
Paul says to not associate with anyone who is idle but why?
They will suck the life out of you and you may become idle or lazy as well. The type of people we surround ourselves with is often the type of people we become.
The teenage who is a straight A student who never does drugs when surrounded by others who do drugs and steal and other things often that teen will pick up some or all of those habits. It takes a very strong person to be surrounded by people who are idle or drunkards or whatever to not get wrapped up in that kind of lifestyle.
Another reason to stay away from these idle people who claim to be Christians is because they will be seen as representing the church. That’s what Christians do, nothing, they are all lazy, their all moochers. It’s a bad example to outsiders so stay away from anyone who is claiming to be a Christian and yet walks in idleness.
It’s interesting that Paul gives himself as an example of how they are to act. Paul didn’t take any support from the Thessalonians in fact Paul worked night and day for his food and support. He is saying “if I, an apostle of Christ, who has the right to receive support from you but don’t (and in fact work for my food and support) then all of you are to work as well. No one in Thessalonica is going to be able to say to Paul you’re a hypocrite, or you want us to do what you yourself refused to do, no, no one can say that to Paul he has given them instruction both by word and by action.
2. Warning to those who are busybodies
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.
–a person who pries into or meddles in the affairs of others.
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 … aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, (1Th 4:11 ESV)
Peter said 1 Peter 4:15 … let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. (1Pe 4:15 ESV)
Someone said: “Why must the phrase, ‘It’s none of my business…’ always be followed by the word ‘but’?”
Paul says that some are idle and are busybodies always worrying about other people always wanting to know what others are doing and not taking care of their own business. Busy with everybody’s business but not their own. Not talking about a person who wants to help others but one who always has to know what other people are doing.
There are some Dangers in being a busybody.
1) You become so wrapped up in others lives that you neglect your own.
a. Paul talked about working for your own food and keeping your own affairs in order. If you’re busy at working for your own food and busy taking care of your own household you will have less time to be prying into others business.
2) You might become a gossiper. One who knows and tells everyone else’s business.
a. Don’t we all have enough of our own problems and struggles and enough stuff we need to do in our own lives? Of course we do.
A busybody and a gossip can be two different things. A gossiper may not be involved in anyone’s life but talks about what they hear, see, or know concerning others.
A busybody is one who is in there trying to fix or be a part of others business when they have no right to be and they might be malicious or not. But there is a danger in becoming a gossiper if you become a meddler.
The person who is so wrapped up in the lives of others and is always trying to “but in”, constantly interfering in the lives of others that is a busybody. The person who always comes over and wants to tell you how you should do things or not do things the one who always wants to have their way in your life. The person who is not asked for advice but is always giving it. That’s a meddler, nuisance, or pest.
Often this can happen with parents who have grown children. They can’t stop meddling. “What’s going on, why is this happening, ect.” It’s not bad to help when we are asked for help, it really isn’t but often no one asked. The meddler may feel that they know what’s best but it’s not their business. They need to deal with their own.
Often the busybody doesn’t have their own life in order but they want to know and be involved in the lives of others. Paul says be busy with your own business.
3. Warning not to grow weary in doing good
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
Some were becoming tired of doing good. If they were in the day of the Lord why strive in doing good, if we are constantly being persecuted it gets tough to keep doing good and not get angry or resentful or just stop caring. If we have these idle busybodies around us wanting to live off of us and tell us what to do and how to do it why bother doing good, it gets tiring to do goo.
Things will be hard but we must never tire of doing good. Once a person tires of doing good they stop doing good and start doing nothing which ends up dong evil. Remember Christianity is pro active, it is active. Jesus said “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He didn’t say don’t act or do things to others that you wouldn’t want them to do to you because that is not active it is just restrictive which means if I just don’t do anything at all to that person I am fine but Jesus said “do, be active”. “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”
Love your wives not don’t beat them. Be active in your love for your wife and you won’t beat them anyways. Wives submit to your husbands, active.
Love your neighbor as yourself, all of this shows us that Christianity is active not passive. We are called to DO, act, not just refrain from certain things but to do good. Don’t grow weary of doing good.
4. Warning to take note of those who do not obey Paul’s words
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.
He says take note of such a person. Be aware of them. Mark them in your mind as one who is being rebellious. And have nothing to do with them. The hope is that they will feel ashamed and turn and obey the words of Paul which are the words of God. He says warn them as a brother. Don’t treat them as enemies but do all of this out of love and encourage them and warn them of the dangers of falling away and if they do turn around and obey accept them.
Paul has given four warnings to the Thessalonians.
1) Warning to stay away from those who are idle
2) Warning to those who are busybodies
3) Warning not to grow weary in doing good
4) Warning to take note of those who do not obey Paul’s words
Here is great wisdom for us even today. We are bound to live as Paul commanded the Thessalonian Christians. We are not in the same situation but what Paul says are still commands for us today.
If you know a person who is an idle Christian trying to survive off of others not because they really need help but because they have chosen to be lazy stay away from that person in hopes that they might turn and be productive. If you are idle or a busybody you need to repent and with God’s help get back to your own business. If you are growing weary in doing good remember your reward is great in heaven and that we are working for God. When we do good works it’s for God that we do. And we all need to take note of Christians in this congregation, if or when they arrive who don’t follow the word of God and to warn them as brethren and to stay away from them if they won’t.