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Idleness Outside and Within the Church

7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 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. 9 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. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

Recall the phrase from saner times: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” or something similar? I think we all know this to be true. One only needs to look at Hollywood for clear examples. After they make millions on a movie, they’ll lounge around waiting for another role. In that down time they get into trouble just because they can.

We’ve experienced this firsthand as well. There’s something to be said about keeping busy and active even if you’re retired. We often think that not going to work each day will be heaven on earth, that is, until that actually happens. For some, the retired, unstructured life works well. For others they are lost.

This obviously goes well beyond retirees and Hollywood elite. It even fits in well with people who have free time on their hands and don’t know what to do with it.

I think, though, that an even broader principle is at play here as well. What does it mean to be idle in the church? Is it filling the church pews but having nothing to do with cleaning them or helping to pay for them, to use an example? Probably.

God wants us all engaged.

Now, engaged means something different for the parent with six kids than it does for the empty-nesters or single widow. It could means missions. It could just mean serving in your local church in some capacity. Even in the middle of the Covid mess, the church still needs workers of all varieties. Ministry still goes on even though the church is emptier each week than this time last year. I guarantee you that when you step up to help in the ministry, it makes the load lighter for everyone. Rare is the church that has too many workers for ministry. I’ve been in one, but it was the exception and not the norm.

My point in these posts isn’t to guilt or shame you for something you may not be doing now. It’s merely to encourage you (and me) to examine priorities to see if they align with God’s. Keeping aligned with God and His priorities is often an arduous task because we may not know what His priorities are for our lives. If that’s the case, then we keep doing what we’re doing until He wants us to realign.

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