A Warning to the Spiritually Idle
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. And . . . warn those who are idle and disruptive…” - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14
Idleness & Laziness Do Not Build Up the Body
Why does Scripture tell us to warn those who are idle? Does God care how much we work or how busy vs. lazy we are? The answer is yes. Ephesians chapter 2 makes is clear that even though works can’t save us (see verses 8-9), we were created to do good works – works prepared in advance for us!
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” - Ephesians 2:10
The New Testament makes it clear that the Church functions as the body of Christ. Each believer in Jesus Christ has been given a spiritual gift, or a role or function in the body!
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” - Romans 12:4-8
If your gift is serving, and you do not serve, the body suffers. If your function is to lead and you fail to do so, the church will lack leadership. Ephesians 4:11-13 lay out an important model for the Church. It is the job of the church leadership to train and equip the other members of the body for works of service. Those members then, must serve wholeheartedly “so that the body of Christ may be built up…”
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” - Ephesians 4:11-13
We Aren’t Called to Be Benchwarmers and Busybodies
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. And . . . warn those who are idle and disruptive…" - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14
Notice that the word “idle” is contrasted with the words “work hard”. Additionally, being idle (or inactive) is linked with being disruptive. Those who don’t serve and invest in the church, as a result, have too much time on their hands and often end up causing trouble. We were not called to be benchwarmers, or pew warmers. We were called to serve the body!
The Apostle Paul, as well as other writers of Scripture, had a good deal to say both to people who worked hard in ministry, AND to people who were spiritually idle. Notice below in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Paul refers to the idle or inactive this way: “They are not busy; they are busybodies.”
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
“Besides, they [younger widows] get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to” - 1 Timothy 5:13
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” - Hebrews 6:10-12
Don’t Bury Your Treasure
Time is short. The Master is returning and when He does, we will be judged according to what we did with the good works He prepared for us to accomplish in His absence. He entrusted us with treasure and we can invest is wisely, or we can bury it. Like in The Parable of The Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30, we want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” and not, “You wicked, lazy servant!”
The parable in Matthew 25 makes it clear that God expects interest, a return from the treasure He entrusted to us. Everyone who has the Spirit of God has been given at least one spiritual gift with which to build up the body of Christ, the Church. We aren’t given the option of using our gifts/roles/functions in the body. It is God’s will that we use what He has given us, to our full potential, “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Be encouraged today. You have worth and value. You have an important role to play in the Church. Every member of the body matters! Ask God to use you for His glory, and then get to work.