Proverbs 29 & 2 Thessalonians 3

Proverbs 29

    He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
        will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
    When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
        but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
    He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
        but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
    By justice a king builds up the land,
        but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
    A man who flatters his neighbor
        spreads a net for his feet.
    An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
        but a righteous man sings and rejoices.
    A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
        a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
    Scoffers set a city aflame,
        but the wise turn away wrath.
    If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
        the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
    Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless
        and seek the life of the upright.
    A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
        but a wise man quietly holds it back.
    If a ruler listens to falsehood,
        all his officials will be wicked.
    The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
        the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.
    If a king faithfully judges the poor,
        his throne will be established forever.
    The rod and reproof give wisdom,
        but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
    When the wicked increase, transgression increases,
        but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
    Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
        he will give delight to your heart.
    Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
        but blessed is he who keeps the law.
    By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
        for though he understands, he will not respond.
    Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
        There is more hope for a fool than for him.
    Whoever pampers his servant from childhood
        will in the end find him his heir.
    A man of wrath stirs up strife,
        and one given to anger causes much transgression.
    One's pride will bring him low,
        but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
    The partner of a thief hates his own life;
        he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
    The fear of man lays a snare,
        but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
    Many seek the face of a ruler,
        but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.
    An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous,
        but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.
    

(Proverbs 29 ESV)

2 Thessalonians 3

    Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, 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. 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.

    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. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

    As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 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. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

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

    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. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

(2 Thessalonians 3 ESV)

2 Thessalonians 3: It is a serious error and abuse of Christianity when we use ‘religious busyness’ as an excuse for idleness and sin. We are those who are waiting for the coming of our Lord, but we are also those who are called to work while we wait. Those who find themselves not busy at work will more often than not find themselves busy at wasting the time of others. The apostle Paul understood this as a matter worthy of rebuke and requiring church discipline. 

How many of us in some form or another use ‘religious busyness’ as an excuse to not be busy at work? How many people might be pursuing ‘ministry’ opportunities with the primary motivation of avoiding work obligations?

No matter what we do and where we do it, may we obey our Lord’s command to “do our work and to earn our own living.” May we support those who need supporting, but may we also equip and encourage those who need employment. The church ought to empower productivity rather than enabling idleness. May we not grow weary in doing good, and may we not grow weary in doing our work.