Reading Through The New Testament - September 23nd, 2016 - 2 Thessalonians 3 When you’re busy doing
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Love this quote. Are you in the arena daring greatly? Or are you in the stands commenting on the ones in the arena?
This is the crucial question at the centre of 2 Thessalonians 3.
Paul doesn’t mince words here. He gets to an issue in this church head on. Take a look:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.
Idle and disruptive?
Don’t those contradict one another? Can you be idle and disruptive at once?
I took a moment to think about this and realized… actually, yes! The disruptive ones, the ones that sit in the stand with a critical spirit, picking apart the people in the arena are very idle and very disruptive.
They don’t do anything, but they are extremely busy at the same time. They’re busy distracting, pulling people down, picking apart, and poisoning the atmosphere. But, at the same time they don’t get up off their chair to join those contributing. They just sit.
Love how the NIV translates this verse:
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.
Or, I would say: They’re so busy doing nothing they never do anything.
Paul says that when he was with this church they worked for their food. They contributed to the church. They weren’t there for hand outs. Not because they were too proud for hand outs but because they wanted to set the example.
The example of being a contributor.
So, something could be better in the church? Get in the ring and get in the dirt and make it better.
Find yourself criticizing those involved but you haven’t done anything to help? It might make you feel good and superior, but you in fact have been busy doing nothing to help.
You might just find that people are distancing themselves from you. Why? Because people will eventually long for something better.
There’s an old rabbinical saying that goes: any donkey can tear down a barn; it takes a special donkey to rebuild one.
Eventually your friends and the people around you will get hungry to make something beautiful, not just point out what is ugly.
So which donkey are you?
Are you in the ring?
Because Paul isn’t afraid to make it clear. It’s not ok to be idle and disruptive. You’re either joining in and making things better or you’re not.