2 Thessalonians 3:6a, 7-8, 10-12 - 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 ... 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. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
"When I'm old, I don't want to be a burden to anybody." People say this because they worry about being a burden to others—costing them time or trouble or money. And so they do everything they can to stay independent—to remain givers, not receivers. For some, this even threatens their lives, as they stay in dangerous situations long past the time they should accept help.
So what about today's passage? Is it just another reason to feel guilty? No.
The key is in verse ten: "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." Notice that word "willing." The Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul, as He does through all Scripture, and He deliberately says "willing to work." He does not say "able to work" or just plain "working."
What does this mean? It means that what is in the heart is the important issue. Are you willing, wishful, even desperate to contribute in whatever way you can? Are you prevented from working because of illness or disability or other problems that you would gladly get rid of, if only you could? Then you are not an idler. You are not a moocher or freeloader. Most important, you are not under God's judgment. It doesn't matter how helpless you may be. As long as the willingness is there, you're fine.
But that doesn't solve your discomfort, does it? Well, no, it does not. As a Christian, you are following in Jesus' footsteps—you are walking the way of the cross. And what did that mean for Jesus?
It meant that, as He headed to Jerusalem to save us all by His death and resurrection there, He accepted help. He and all the disciples stayed in other people's houses and ate other people's food. On Palm Sunday Jesus borrowed someone's donkey and other people's clothing to use as a saddle. Even His cross was not His own—Palestine has little wood, and the cross was doubtless used for many people.
And they laid Him in a borrowed tomb.
Think of it—the Son of God, loving you, chose to be dependent. He accepted that as part of His sacrifice to make you His own. And He will give you His Holy Spirit, so that you, too, can accept dependence at the right time—walking the way of the cross with love and gratitude.
WE PRAY: Dear God, help me when I'm having a hard time relying on others for help. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Is it hard for you to accept help? Why or why not?
2. Name some other times Jesus accepted help.
3. How could your accepting help actually be a form of ministry in itself?
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