Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13)
Someone visited an office and saw a sign hanging on the wall that stated
- “Work fascinates me,” said one, “I can sit and watch it for hours!”
People have all kinds of attitudes about their work. . . . and their desire to avoid work as much as possible.
Saint Paul had difficulty with the church at Thessalonica. Some of the members of the community were refusing to do their share of the work. He wrote:
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12)
What do you do with people who refuse to do their share of the work? It’s true in every organization. Some people do not do their share.
Paul had that difficulty in the church at Thessalonica. Some people were faithful at serving Christ, and others were not. But, those not working had many good excuses.
- Some of them thought they were too good to do plain everyday work.
Some of them from Jewish backgrounds, believed that spiritual work was superior to physical work. They believed that only those who studied Scripture like the scribes were doing really worthy work, but not those who did manual labor.
Some of those who were Greek didn’t like to work, and left most of their work to their slaves and servants.
And then there were some from the Thessalonian congregation who believed work was no longer necessary because Jesus was going to return any moment.
They had many excuses for not working . . . like many people today.
It is amazing how creative people can be in making excuses.
The members of the church at Thessalonica had many good excuses, just as you and I do when there is work to be done. In The Garden is a living example to the principle that 20% of people do 80% of the work. It’s human nature.
Some of you are among that 20% that are responsible for 80% of the work done for In The Garden.
We are eternally grateful for the ‘givers’ among you. We could not make it without you. And we couldn’t do without the 80% who come and visit with us each week.
But as Saint Paul pointed out, we can and all SHOULD be involved. We can see something that needs to be done and SHOULD do it.
- Dave and Michael saw the need for setting up for In The Garden and stepped forward and now make sure everyone of us has water, utensils and seating.
Sister saw a need for organizing the serving of the meal and worked with the In The Garden Team to develop a process to efficiently get the food to each of you at your table.
Paul, Babaschu and Rudy saw a need to sing praises to God and honor us with songs from time to time.
John faithfully helps with whatever is needed, staying late to carry out trash. And Larry monitors the door during the service so we are not disrupted.
Larry and his family sit quietly in the corner wrapping forks and napkins so that we have utensils.
Some people stay to help clean-up.
Our volunteers prepare the meals and spend their Sunday afternoon making the In the Garden community feel loved and cared for.
All to make a small difference in our lives and our In The Garden community.
Unfortunately, we also have the ‘busybodies’ (‘takers’) – those whose only contribution to the good of the community is to put their noses in other people’s business. They perceive their responsibility in life is to tell everyone what they are doing wrong or why something won’t work – without also being a ‘giver’. They choose to dwell on negative thoughts instead of positive thoughts.
These people poke their noses into other people’s business, tattling, gossiping, and spreading all kinds of talk and rumors. Why? Because it is easier to be a busybody than it is to be a ‘giver’ and minister to the needs of those within the community who are hurting, lonely, desperate, or lost.
What are you?
- A giver or a taker?
Do you work to make a difference in the world, no matter how small?
- OR are you words and actions always tearing down people and organizations?
We can all make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
Max Lucado, a renowned Christian writer, gave his son this advice when he went away to college:
- “Spend less time worrying who’s right, and more time deciding what is right . . .
Keep secrets . . .
Just to see how it feels, for the next 24 hours to refrain from criticizing anybody for anything . . .
Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved . . .
That’s good advice for all of us.
Jesus wants us to make a difference. . . a constructive difference in people’s lives. He said:
never tire of doing what is good. (2 Thessalonians 3:12)
Where are you going to stand when you stand before Saint Peter?
Will you be a giver or a taker?
You can make a difference – and you can start right now!
Will you be a giver?
Or a taker?
1 From a sermon by Dr. Robert Kopp
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 17 November 2013