Reading: 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. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 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. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
I’m going to challenge you today by throwing another passage of scripture into conversation. Deuteronomy 5:14-15: “But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”
Our American mindset is one of work work work. We find our value in all the things we accomplish and if we sit still too long, we start to feel antsy and guilty. My guess is that most of us don’t have any challenge following Paul’s advice in 2 Thessalonians. My guess is that most of us are far busier than we need to be. My guess is that most of us need to hear these words from Deuteronomy: take a Sabbath. Rest. Be idle for a little while.
God links the Sabbath commandment to Israel’s slavery in Egypt, reminding them that they are no longer slaves, their identity is no longer linked solely to their work, to the goods they produce. And guess what—neither is yours. Paul’s right: we shouldn’t be so idle as to unnecessarily burden others with our laziness; but Deuteronomy is also right: we shouldn’t mislabel the need for a good long rest as laziness. Work when you need to work, but remember to rest. Rest is your reminder that your value lies in who God is, not in the work that you do.
Sabbath God, help us to rest. In the moments when we find peace and calm, alleviate the burden of false guilt that tells us to get back to work. Calm our minds that we remember we are your children, loved and free.