Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
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. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’
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.
Yesterday, we saw repeated warnings in the book of Proverbs about working hard and avoiding laziness. Today the message from Paul to the church in Thessalonica is the same. Paul’s job was working with leather to make tents. He had shown the Thessalonians the example of working with his hands to support himself. Nobody could accuse Paul of being dependent on other people for an income.
Paul is not saying that it is wrong to be unemployed or to do unpaid work. Sometimes things are outside our control and sometimes health problems may prevent us from doing paid employment. His point is that people who are capable of working for pay but who choose not to any sort of work should not expect others to feed them.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
As well as teaching Christians to support themselves, Paul also teaches Christians to support their families and to help the poor. It is a good thing to work in order to gain money, but if we start to love money itself, that is where problems start. (1 Timothy 6:10).