CHRISTIAN WORK ETHICS
2 Thess. 3:6-12
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” …And as for you, brothers and sisters never tire of doing what is good. (2Thess. 3:10,13)
It is remarkable that right after requesting prayer, Paul harshly rebuked the Thessalonian faith community for being slothful. Jules Renard, a French writer once said, "Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired." Social and spiritual issues of freeloaders have never been without controversy. While the early church in the book of Acts, gives us a sense of negation of free enterprise and capitalism, sharing is condemned here. It is not to confuse us, but to give us a clearer understanding of God’s purpose. It is not to marginalize the poor and the destitute, neither is it to reject God’s command of earning a living.
Daily Bread comes through labor: Work is spiritual and is God’s will. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and commanded them “To work it and take care of it.” But, when they sinned God said to them “The ground is cursed because of them; and they must toil all their lives for bread.” Yet, God’s purpose of man inheriting His Kingdom has not changed! Thus, God granted us freedom in Christ to come to the throne of grace and pray, “Give us this day our daily bread." God answers this prayer by giving us wisdom, physical health and opportunities to work, because daily bread comes through labor. Perhaps, that was the reason Paul scolded that “If anyone would not work, neither should he eat,” and warned others to keep away from freeloaders. Believers often become idle; reject the spiritual value of work and live off the system. We use the very freedom God bestowed upon us to question the manner in which He provides. Sequentially, freeloaders drift from house to house complaining and gossiping through information superhighway; causing moral and spiritual decay of the community. A Chinese proverb that says “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” is the apt solution.
Extend our helping hands to those in need: At the same time as Christians, when we see poverty, suffering, and injustice, we ask God why He doesn’t do anything about it. Perhaps, God answers through James by saying that we should stop being idlers; “the faith that I accept as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” God continued to speak “suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” Are we idlers? Are we living off someone else’s spiritual and physical labor?
Prayer: God of creation, help us to be active in Your garden. Amen.
Saju Alex, St.Thomas, New York