Cultures have typically denigrated the value of work, delegating it either to the lower classes or to slaves. For the biblical Christian, every activity is a spiritual duty, an opportunity to give glory to God (1 Cor 10:31).
Paul elevated the concept to working directly for the Lord: “Slaves [like employees], be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh [as employers], with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye service, as men–pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph 6:5–-7). Christ perceives the motives for our work.
In Thessalonica, some refused to work, obligating the congregation to support them. Taking advantage of Christian hospitality, kindness, and generosity merited Paul’s stern reprimand. Anyone “not willing to work” (Gk. “desire, implies active volition and purpose”) suggests that the person had the choice to work, but refused.
Lazy men did not want take the commands of God’s word seriously. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul said, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life” (i.e., “out of line, disorderly, doing nothing, or undisciplined”).
Any command recorded in the New Testament is given with the full authority of Christ and is to be obeyed unquestioningly.
This does not mean we should not help those with disabilities or those who lack job opportunities (Matt 6:2–-3; Gal 2:10; Heb 13:16). Paul is referring to those who are “not willing to work” and seek to exploit others.
Those who do work should pay no entitlements to those who will not work: “A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on” (Prov 16:26). Let us pray for those who need skills and opportunities to earn a living so that God’s people can be respected for obeying the principles of His word.
“Dear Lord, being resourceful and working for a living gives direction and meaning to our lives, to say nothing of putting food on our tables. I am thankful for the strength and ability to accomplish good things.”