Worthy of Work
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. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-8,10 ESV)
We are told in James that our ‘religion’ is worthless if we don’t take care of orphans and widows . . . but what about others? The Word tells us several times that we are to provide for the ‘needy’ and yet I struggle sometimes with defining who exactly is needy? Am I showing compassion or am I enabling someone to live a dysfunctional, unbiblical life?
My mother, a single mom, raised five children in the seventies without welfare. She did occasionally receive unrequested benevolent gifts to help make ends meet, but she was never without a job, often taking on work that others wouldn’t. So I know this example from my past does influence me in my own giving.
While there are times that the Holy Spirit absolutely nudges me to give without question, there are other times when I am stunned; plain and simply stunned. Recently we’ve met several young, Christian men who are able to work, not in addiction or disabled, but yet they won’t look for employment or even accept our help securing entry level jobs . . . No, they expect us and others to ‘give’ and support them for a time until they feel led by God to look for work. It grieves me and causes me to stew. As Christians, what are we to do? I struggle as showing such Christian love and compassion can actually be not to their benefit, but rather condoning poor life choices and enabling unhealthy behavior. When in doubt, I reach for the Word where Paul in Thessalonians gives us firm guidelines. Offer them a hand up, but not a hand out if they are not willing to work.
Father, You sent Adam into the garden to work and keep it before sin entered the world – a job is not part of the curse, but part of Your design. Help us as Your children to show love and compassion to those around us, even if that means shaking our head ‘no’ sometimes to outstretched able hands. Amen