How to get kicked out of church: idleness

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica in his second letter to them,
2 Thess. 3:6-15 3:6 But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition they received from us. 3:7 For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you, 3:8 and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you. 3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate. 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” 3:11 For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others. 3:123:13 But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right. 3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. 3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.
The undisciplined or unruly life gets you distanced from the family. I'm not sure Paul is saying, "kick the idle brother out," and he's not saying, "treat him like a tax collector," instead he says, "treat him like a brother, BUT give him wide berth and warn him." There is some other things going on in that church. They caught "end times fever." Some of them reasoned that Jesus' imminent return negated any reason for keeping a job. Instead they should go around telling other people to get ready, but they ended up being busy bodies, not evangelists. They were leading lives without discipline, a topic that started this series on church discipline, like small children. Immaturity is not too far removed from lack of self-discipline. Paul points to his own example of working while evangelizing. He's a little frustrated that he explicitly taught them that feeding and labor go hand in hand. He even instructed them about this in his previous letter. He told them to warn the idle, 1 Thess. 5:14, as well as to mind their own business and work with their hands as a witness to their neighbors, 1 Thess. 4:11-12. But some bozos in the church neglected all that. Paul wants to bring them to shame, not to alienate them, but to shock them back into productivity.

Titus received a similar instruction from Paul for the church in Crete. In Titus 1 he writes, 1:12 A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 1:13 Such testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith. Their problems aren't exclusively laziness, but it was still worthy of a sharp rebuke.

In summary, if you are a slacker who belongs to a church, your church is obliged to warn you to get on the stick. If you won't, then they are to distance themselves from you in order to shame you into repentance. Jesus' return is not an excuse to get lazy. Having a church family that could support you is not a reason to take advantage of that. The church's resources are for people in need such as widows and orphans. He instructs Timothy on this in 1 Tim. 5:3-16. If you are able to work, you should be working. If you are idle, you weaken the church and it needs to keep you at arm's length. Sorry, but you need to grow up, get a job, and act like an adult.

Comments

Joe said…
Not only do I believe one should get on the stick, one should do in church what one is good at. Teahers should teach in bible Study. Bookkeepers should help with church finances and bookkeeping. House cleaners should help keep the church buildings clean.

This business of doing what you are good at for work and what you know nothing about in church is for the birds.

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