By Pat Russell
Considering the sermon entitled "Don't Quit Yet" by C. J. Biewenga on November 15, 2020
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
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.
3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you,
3:8 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.
3:9 This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate.
3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.
3:11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.
3:12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
3:13 Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
When I listened to CJ preach this Sunday, I had to ask myself, “Where in my life do I feel like quitting?” Once again, we saw the ground shift for our service design – no singing; do I feel like giving up on being a part of the service? A very dear friend of mine for 40 years died last Sunday; do I feel like not getting too close to anyone again? My brother-in-law who is on dialysis was diagnosed with COVID; do I feel like letting him go? Marilyn Travis found out that Robert has been exposed to COVID after she spent time with him in the car; do I feel like never going anywhere again with anyone? My neighbor friend voted differently than I did; do I feel like giving up on our relationship? So many people in our country are angry, disappointed, discouraged in some way; do I feel like giving up? After all Larry and I could just hole up in our sweet home after his surgery and wait for the return of Jesus.
CJ, in looking at this seemingly strange passage today, “hit the nail on the head,” as they say. He gave us an understanding of the heart of Paul for this community of faith that he, Silas and Timothy had invested in over the years. I wonder if Paul would be saying to us today some of the same things that he said to the Thessalonian church. I have to ask, what would he want to say to me?
Here’s an imagined exhortation from Paul, his straight talk to all of us. You can put your name in the blank space: “So, _______, what is your motivation in doing what you are doing these days? Are you motivated by love, or wanting to create disruption? How are you waiting for the return of the Lord, as a busybody, in idleness, or are you quietly doing your work in the kingdom of heaven? Is there any way you can be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity? (1 Tim. 4:12). You may be tired of this shifting ground, ________, but this is what I say to you, ‘do not be weary in doing what is right.’ Can you do that, ________? After all, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin, (Heb 12:4) as the Thessalonian fellowship has.”
Lord, thank you for your Word, for those in the Thessalonian church who came before us as kingdom citizens, for Paul who understood the realities of the kingdom of heaven, for CJ who studied all of this in order to give us a Word from you. May we continue to not quit in these days of trial. We need your strength, your wisdom, your love. We cannot do it on our own. Amen.