Earning a Living
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 (NIV)
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
The scriptures are filled with God’s commands to take care of the poor, to show compassion and to give to those in need. As a result, there are many who believe that those with money should support those without. In politics there are those who feel that the government should use taxes to provide everyone with a living wage. There are well meaning Christians who build their theology around the idea of social welfare programs.
Don’t misunderstand this post. I am not here to promote one political party over another. I am not towing a party line. My goal is to allow God’s word to add some clarity. I do believe that God compels us to give to those in need. God commands us to have compassion. Deuteronomy 15:11 tells us, “there will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
However, God knows the difference between those who are poor because of circumstance and those who are poor by choice. The Apostle Paul knew the difference as well. Paul worked hard to support his ministry. He wanted to be a model others could follow. Hard work has its benefits. It not only provides for the workers needs, it also can provide the worker the means to help others.
On top of that, when healthy able bodied men and women choose an idle life, rather than a productive life, Satan has a field day. Paul puts it this way, “we hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” I like how the New Living Translation puts it: “refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business.” Listen to the wisdom of Solomon: If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks (Ecclesiastes 10:18).
The command to work is compassionate. It protects us. It encourages us and it makes us able to care for others. Sometimes circumstances keep us from working; a tough economy, personal injury or serious illness. However, when circumstances are not an impediment, work hard, earn your bread and then help someone who needs and hand up, not a hand out.
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