Peter Barnes: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12
(20 May 2018)
SERMON NOTES: THE OBLIGATION TO WORK (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12)
– the leader of the Greens urged that the state provide a basic income of $20,000-$40,000 to all and sundry, with no means test and no obligation to work. Ronald Reagan: ‘Government does not solve problems. It subsidizes them.’
- Idleness is a sin.
– ‘Six days shall you work’. At Thessalonica, the issue may have been the Greek disdain for physical labour, but more likely, the mistaken belief that Christ’s coming again was so imminent that it was not worth going to work.
– ‘command’ is found three times in this section – 3:6, 10, 12. The idle become busy at the wrong things; they become busybodies – 3:11-12; see 1 Tim.5:13; Prov.6:6-11; 10:4; 12:11.
- Paul’s example as a generous worker.
– 3:7-8; recall 1 Thess.2:9.
– Paul had a right to be supported as an apostle – 3:9; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor.9:3-7.
- The obligation to work.
– 3:10. Are we obliged to support the poor? Of course we are! – Gal.2:10. Is rest allowed? Of course it is! – Mark 6:31-32.
– Dostoevsky made the interesting observation that men went mad in the Russian labour camps of the nineteenth century not through suffering but through meaningless labour like taking a pile of rocks from one area to another and then returning with them. We are designed by God to do useful work. In Phaedrus Fables the ant says to the fly: ‘You don’t work? That’s why you don’t have anything when you need it.’
– 3:12. It is not spectacular but it is life-enhancing. Do your work quietly. Col.3:17.