Read the text that precedes this verse:
When we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
- These verses have been guidelines in many Christian communities. What is the harm in being idle?
- In contemporary culture, there are many idle people. They have no jobs, and they receive help from government and charities. What is the harm in this situation? Shouldn’t we help poor, hungry people?
- What is the difference between being busy and being useful? Is being busy the same thing as doing what is right?
- We usually rear children to understand that adults earn money to pay for the costs of living – food, clothing and shelter – and to pay for whatever other things they might want. As long as someone has the money needed for paying the bills and a little for the wants, what difference does it make how the money is acquired? Read the text above and ask how it may apply in society in general.
- The first thought that comes to most people who read verse 13 is that “what is right” is “good deeds.” What other things might be included in the meaning of “what is right” when it is considered in context?
Read the text that follows verse 13:
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
- What was Paul’s opinion of someone who did not exert himself (or herself) to do what was right and good? When Christians contemplate a culture where millions have no jobs and depend on government for food, clothing and shelter, what does this text offer to guide them? Where else do you find guidance on this subject?
- How does the passage as a whole shape your understanding of the key verse, verse 13? How is it related to other texts that mandate or guide charitable kindness to people with problems of various kinds?