If anyone will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13
I spent big chunks of my childhood in the late 1950s and early ’60s living with my various aunts and uncles on their farms. They were all big believers in the virtues of hard work. If I heard “If any would not work, neither should he eat,” once, I heard it a thousand times – typically when I balked at being told to pull weeds in an enormous garden or gather eggs from under the sharp-beaked chickens. I heard about idle hands being the devil’s playground, too – and I was willing to take my chances with the devil for a break from the heat, the humidity and the routine.
“I thought Jesus said we should feed the hungry,” I said once as a delaying tactic. “He did and we should,” my Aunt Ruth replied as she handed me a trowel. “And he also wants us to make good use of our time. How we spend our time determines what kind of people we are going to be. We should work if we can and help others when we can. Everybody needs to do their part to make things go.”
As the years have passed, I’ve come to see this scripture not as “work equals food” but rather as a call to stewardship and community. Our time and how we choose to spend it are both gifts from God. God doesn’t expect us to labor without ceasing but He does want us to use our leisure wisely. Too much TV or Facebook scrolling does not glorify Him or make us into the kind of people He wants us to be.
We can choose instead to serve our community, using the special gifts we each have, or doing the tedious tasks that take no special skills but only the willingness to do them. These glorify God. As we serve others, we serve Him. And we do not grow weary in this well-doing because God showers us with his approval.
God, maker and giver of time, show me how to use this incredible gift in right ways. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck