“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Paul is wrapping up his letters to this church. And, he is asking for prayer. He knows that there is power in prayer. He asks them to pray for the ministry so that the gospel of Christ will go out swiftly and smoothly with no hindrances. He was not foolish to believe that there would not be opposition and false teaching. In fact, the rest of this chapter deals with people in this church living and teaching incorrectly.
If you read the rest of the chapter, you will see that Paul is addressing the people in the church that would not work. He repeats himself again by saying, “If anyone will not work, he will not eat” (vs 7). These believers thought that since Jesus was going to return, they could quit working and live off the church. And some of the leaders thought the same way, they thought it was owed to them. Paul, here, says they are wrong and need to be corrected. He was encouraging them to work together so that the gospel would be shared swiftly and without hindrances.
The Jews honored honest labor and the Greeks had slaves. The people here were now influenced by Greek culture and did not want to do anything, including some leaders. The bible clearly teaches that a Christian leader has the right to receive support from the church he/she serves. But, like Paul, they also have the privilege of setting aside that right to ensure the people are taken care of first.
My Pastor, Raul Ries, continues to exhort those of us shepherding churches to never take from the people but to give to the people. If the church is provided for first and can also provide a salary for the pastor, then and only then should a pastor receive wages. We need to make sure the people of the church are taken care of first before our needs are taken care of. We want to be known as churches that lift up the name of Christ and not a church that is always seeking and talking about money. We need to be good stewards of what God has given to us, including the people. This is what Paul is teaching here in this chapter.
Wiersbe writes, “Almost every culture has a saying about idleness. The Roman’s said, ‘By doing nothing, men learn to do evil.’ Isaac Watts wrote, ‘For Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do.’ The Jewish Rabbis taught, ‘He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to be a thief.'” God called people who were busy at work. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, King David, Peter. These were shepherds and fishermen who were being good stewards. What has God set you over today? Are you being a good steward with what He has given to you?
“What kind of men does the Master mean to use? They must be labourers. The man who does not make hard work of his ministry will find it very hard to answer for his idleness at the last great day.” – C.H. Spurgeon