CHRISTIANS ARE NOTORIOUS FOR BEING EASILY OFFENDED. Or so the world is often led to believe. When we see T-shirts emblazoned with, ‘Look busy, Jesus is coming,’ people are tempted to either laugh or take offense. I certainly gravitate toward the latter. This is probably because I see the intent to ‘look busy’ as incorrectly (i.e. deviously) motivated. And it’s also because the people laughing mock the reality of Jesus’ second coming.
The apostle Paul narrows the issue of work down to the ‘eating of one’s [earned] bread’ in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. Should anyone eat bread they haven’t earned or been offered? That seems to be the argument.
And the issue is broadened to encapsulate the concept of “idleness.” Paul is certainly advocating working for our ‘board ‘n’ keep’ and he and his fellow missionaries worked their passage.
The warning against idleness is really about doing God’s will as far as his call to us is personally concerned. Of course, ‘the call’ is often thought of in the major realm—what we’re called to do in vocation i.e. our life call. But it’s not just about that. It’s also about the moment-by-moment and seasonal calls that are placed upon our lives.
‘Looking busy’ without this call is a reprehensible contempt for God himself. This is because looking busy is generally about getting involved in other people’s affairs and not our own...
“They are not busy, they are busybodies.”
~2 Thessalonians 3:11b (NIV). (With italics added.)
We must always try and seek knowledge of God’s will for our momentary lives. This is not hard once we’re in the habit of it, but it does require prayer—our seeking him and his Presence as he “tips” this knowledge into our conscious psyches; us being sensitive to his Spirit.
The original intent of Paul—as he always seemed to do—was to keep the gospel message and its commands as simple as possible. The simplicity of this particular message is, ‘Just work honestly for your bread,’ according to what God calls you to do.
Rather than being easily distracted by what the world would throw at us we must simply and humbly work for the bread that is ours for the taking. In this, we ignore the wiles of Satan and the rampantly insatiable desires of our own minds and hearts and we therefore do not disturb the peace and wellbeing of others.
Paul reminds us in Romans 7:15-18 that we continually battle with our desires, but it’s the Spirit that intercedes for us if we’ll allow, again proving worthy the power and necessity of prayer during the course of our lives with regard to works of good.
Being sufficiently busy with what God has truly purposed for us, without subscribing to “busyness,” is central to our purpose of being.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.