Don't Make Me Stop This Car!

2 Thessalonians 3

Key Verse | 2 Thessalonians 3:13

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Scripture | 2 Thessalonians 3


Pray for Us

Finally, brothers, 1 pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, 2 as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 3 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Warning Against Idleness

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 4

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Benediction

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Footnotes

[1] 3:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 13
[2] 3:1 Or glorified
[3] 3:3 Or evil
[4] 3:12 Greek to eat their own bread

Don't Make Me Stop This Car!



Devo | 2 Thessalonians 3

When the words roll off your tongue, you realize, "I sound just like my dad [or mom]!" Invariably, this occurs when you have children, and you repeat your parents' most...

When the words roll off your tongue, you realize, "I sound just like my dad [or mom]!" Invariably, this occurs when you have children, and you repeat your parents' most notable phrases—usually to rolled eyes. Any of these sound familiar? "Money doesn't grow on trees." "Because it builds character." Or my childhood favorite, which applies to our passage today: "If you don't work, you don't eat." 

In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul returns to the subject of idleness, which he addressed in his earlier letter to the believers in Thessalonica: "[A]dmonish the idle" (1 Thessalonians 5:14). It appears that a minority of the church members were still misbehaving, interfering with the work of others and generally being unruly. Paul makes it clear his prior admonition was a command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not a suggestion. "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10) It brings another parental phrase to mind, one which meant my behavior needed to change immediately: "Don't make me stop this car!"  

Growing up in my family meant we were enrolled very early in the "Richardson School for Responsible Living." Hard work was expected, so 2 Thessalonians 3 was a familiar (and sometimes unpopular) chapter to me. It wasn't until later in my life that I noticed a significant verse tucked between Paul's admonitions and instructions. Specifically, Paul turns to the faithful majority in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 and urges them to "not grow weary in doing good." What does this mean? Some followers were goofing off and being mischievous, but Paul says to pay them no attention. He acknowledges following Christ is tiring and often challenging, but reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 about the value we each bring to the kingdom of God as various parts of the body.

We've each got a significant part to play, designed specifically by God and utilizing our unique skills. No one else can handle our specific kingdom assignments. So, don't "idle" or even stop your car. Keep plowing ahead and doing good.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you have any favorite (or annoying) parental sayings from your childhood? Wanna bet you'll probably repeat them someday (if not already)?

2. Would you consider work to be a curse or a blessing?

3. Do you struggle with idleness? Conversely, do you struggle with overwork? What would you say causes you to lean one way or the other?

4. Have you discovered the unique gifts God has bestowed upon you? Have you ever taken a spiritual gifts assessment? If not, check out this handy link: my.watermark.org/SpiritualGifts

5. We all grow tired from time to time. How do you recharge your battery and keep from growing weary in doing good?

Meet Robert Richardson

My name is Rob, and I'm humbled to share God's Word with you this morning.

My wife Libba and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage this December. Time flies when you're having fun! We've been blessed with two incredible kids, Brandon and Kyndall. They are both out of the house and have been supplanted by Miles, a Covid-rescue dog.

Libba and I are passionate about serving in Merge, Watermark's ministry to pre-married couples. In addition, we love to entertain—you'll never leave the Richardson house hungry. Dinner, anyone? With a little dessert around the fire pit?

5 Comments available

Hugh Stephenson about 22 hours ago

GM Robert. Thank you and Libby for serving in Merge. What great ministry. Amy, (Proverbs 31), and I love our COVID rescue dog, Duke.

Man - lessons from parents. What a long list. Also, the world view I inherited from them and the models of theirs I observed.

Q1. The most annoying saying: Hardship, disappointment, adversity etc etc “builds character”. At about 12 years old I had heard enough. I turned to my mom and said, “I think I have enough character”. Later events proved that statement false.

Two of the most helpful sayings:

“Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.

“ The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.”

Hugh Stephenson about 22 hours ago

Q2. Hmm. Work a curse? “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life…”

So… is all work that entails labor for food, clothing and shelter “cursed”? Not sure. There are seasons that feel that way. Yet, God gives me the gifts/skills so I can provide. A deeper theological question than I can answer.

Q3. I tend to ping-pong between idleness and overwork.

Q4. Good idea. Thanks for the link.

Q5. Bible study/podcasts/book reading are my battery rechargers. JTJ is my daily booster shot.

Hugh Stephenson about 22 hours ago

In this passage I am centered on promises and prayers. In them I see Jesus and Paul as examples of faith, trust, surrender and obedience.

Promises:

The Lord is faithful

He will establish you and guard you, (strengthen and protect).

(implicit) You will be attacked by Satan.

Prayers:

May your hearts/thoughts/feelings be to trust God and rely on Jesus’s perseverance/steadfastness/endurance.

May Jesus, the Lord of peace, give you peace. All the time. In every way.

May each of you have the unmerited favor of Lord Jesus Christ.

Josh offers “Benediction”. A favorite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0CN-8aefWE

Jermaine Harrison about 12 hours ago

Thanks for sharing Rob! Verse 13 also resonated with me as I read. Paul also encourages believers in Galatia to keep going and doing good (Galatians 6:9). The Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow Paul to keep encouraging Christians to not get tired of doing good if it wasn’t something we can be easily tempted to. For so many reasons, we can get tired of doing good (in our humanness). Sometimes we just need some encouragement to keep going!

I’m praying we all find a believer today to encourage to keep going!

Sue Bohlin about 10 hours ago

Thanks, Rob! It’s not so much the actual words, but my mother’s tone of voice that I used to hear coming out of my mouth. (Now that my kids are grown, that doesn’t happen so much.)

Interesting that Paul instructs his friends to use redemptive shaming as a form of church discipline. I have seen unrepentant people get upset at the appropriate use of shame, as if they have a right to do whatever they want to do without anyone calling them on it.

A mentor who taught me about shame said that in ancient Greece there was a village where an alarming number of people were committing suicide. The leaders finally put a stop to it by announcing that the bodies of such people would be paraded naked through the village after their death. The suicides immediately stopped.

So I guess not ALL shame is bad.

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