Tough Conversations About Helping Those In Need (2 Thessalonians)

2Thessalonians 3:13-15 ESV 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.

Sometimes we need to have tough conversations in the church. In this situation there were folks who were taking advantage of the grace and goodness of others. They were able to work, but weren’t working. Instead they were obligating others to feed them. They showed up and implied that a good Christian man or woman would look out for the needs of their neighbors. The problem in this case was that they didn’t have needs, they were able to work and earn for themselves. They were just really lazy.

I’m sure this frustrated those who had been so giving to others, to see their generosity taken for granted. Perhaps it frustrated them to the point that they didn’t want to be generous at all anymore. If people just become entitled, what’s the point? They may have used the entitlement of a few to justify not helping others at all. The problem is that there were some folks who really needed the help and were looking for a hand up and not just a hand out.

So Paul writes that we aren’t to grow weary in doing good. We should still be generous and help those who need it. Yet when we discover someone who is able to work and won’t work, we must stop enabling them. The goal of shutting someone out wasn’t to disfellowship them completely, but to restore them to fellowship. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that these folks hadn’t become enemies, but that they were still brothers. They just really needed to have a tough conversation and a little help to the understand the scripture that says, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

A Strong work ethic is part of Christian doctrine. I’ve written more on this blog about addressing issues of poverty, moral obligation and generosity. I’ll include the titles and links to those posts at the end of this post under resources.

Father, thank you for the radical generosity we have experience from you. We ask Lord for wisdom in mirroring that generosity to others. We want to demonstrate grace in all that we do, yet we don’t want to encourage idleness, dependency, and entitlement. Give us wisdom on how to not grow weary in doing good, but to also encourage the idle to work and help them come to maturity in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Book Resources* on Poverty

Last Year’s Post on 2 Thessalonians

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

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