Mack's Minute November 22, 2019

When I hear this warning of idleness in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, I can see it being taken in a couple different directions. The first is that, historically, it has been used to abuse people living in poverty. The author of this letter tells people “to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” This often leads to people being told to “just get a job and stop freeloading.” Verse 10 in the NRSV says “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” Anyone unwilling to work. Not anyone who is unable to work.

While many people abuse this passage to starve and demean people in poverty or people living with disabilities, I think we could flip this around to call out the people with power who do very little work, yet still get to eat and eat well. The author says that some people in the Thessalonian congregation are idle and/or busybodies that don’t actually get any work done. I think we have all had that boss that just sits in their office all day and doesn’t actually do any work. They order a few people around and make the lower paid employees do all the work. In my job at CiCi’s Pizza in Indianapolis, I had a manager who walked around the whole time telling people what to do, but never actually did any work himself. Because he never did any of the work, we always left late when he was the manager for the closing shift. He was one of those “busybodies, not doing any work.” So the author is calling out for fairness. Be willing to put in the work you are asking everyone else to do.

My final thought is what if I am unwilling to work? I have many days when I am just too tired and don’t want to do any work. I’d rather lay in bed all day and watch Netflix or go to the couch and play video games. Every once in a while that’s okay. Afterall, God tells us to Sabbath and rest. Our worth is not tied to our productivity. So rest, and then do. In our world right now, we face a myriad of struggles and it is exhausting. Continuing the fight is hard. The author tells us to “never tire of doing what is good.” Rest up, be renewed, and continue doing what is good.