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. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 ESV
“We worked night and day” and “if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” – Yes, this is the passage that my wife and I opened to for our devotional together this morning – immediately on the heals of yet another late night of work.
I have worked the past 3 weeks working through the nights on the weekends and taking calls almost every single night from work and I’m still there every day for first shift Monday through Friday. In fact, one of the weekends, I had an hour and a half of sleep Friday night and 3 hours Saturday night because of the workload.
Many look at the long hours that I put into my job at times and wonder how I can do it, or even why I would do it. And my answer is, there is a need, and it is in my ability to fill that need. Some of those same people might look at the time that I dedicate weekly to ministry – around 30 hours a week, and they may have the same question, why?
And the reason is the same, there is a need, and I am able to fill it.
Is it a heavy burden at times? It can seem that way if I’m not doing it for the right reasons – but not if I see a need, and I realize that I am able to help, and serve, and give of myself, to help others.
While many might throw accusations that I’m foolish and being used and manipulated and taken advantage of – I would say, if that is so, then am I not blessed to share in sufferings and trials with my Savior?
Isn’t the physical weariness of my long work week nothing beside the sacrifice my Lord and Savior made at the cross?
It encourages me to know that repeatedly the Word of God makes a differentiation between those religious leaders who lived off of the silver of those they oppressed with the law – and Christ the Good Shepherd (and His disciples) who came to serve the needy, to feed the poor, to work and provide for themselves and to help others. It encourages me when I have every urge and passion to spread this gospel to the ends of the earth, but I have no urge to stop working.
And do not take this as an attack upon those who are paid to preach the gospel. I have no fight with my brother, because that is between him and the Lord. We are not all called and used for the same purpose or in the same manner or during the same seasons of our lives. Even the Pharisees were used for God’s purpose when they persecuted Jesus Christ, because if all were perfect, who would there be left to lift Him up on the cross but imperfect me?
I’m just thankful for this blessed assurance that my Lord offers me, in such an encouraging Word just at the perfect moment, just on the morning when it is needed to strengthen me for the day ahead. I may have worked through the night and into the morning, and it may be time again to head back into the office and do this thing again – but I am strengthened by the Lord. And I am doing His work, not working for mere men.
There is a need. There is a great need. Both in your workplace and in the mission field.
Are you stepping forth to fill that need? Or sitting idle and still expecting to eat?
Get to work, friends. The time is short, the need is great, and your end will be upon you sooner than you might imagine.
Please don’t be satisfied with the words LAZY or IDLE or SELFISH even touching the thoughts or tongue of whoever will be giving your eulogy – if you would claim the name of Christ as the Savior of your life. He deserves a better testimony than that from us, friends. He deserves the words FAITHFUL SERVANT to be the undeniable evidence and testimony of our lives.