A Call to Responsibility

from the 1 & 2 Thessalonians reading plan

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 2 Corinthians 11:5-9, Hebrews 13:20-21

BY Melanie Rainer

Oftentimes, Scripture abounds with rich nuance. It reflects forward and backward, teasing out references to the Old Testament or the New. It can be read in layer after layer, each one peeled to reveal a deeper truth about our relationship to God and His to us. Sometimes, a passage is the opposite: it gives us truth, straight to the point. It tells us how to live, how to love, how to spend our money, how to be saved. 

“Clarity is kindness,” is a phrase I live by, learned from my dearest mentor. In today’s passage from 2 Thessalonians, Paul is delivering the same kindness. There’s nothing nuanced, tucked between flowery phrases, hinting at something only the most educated will understand. Paul serves it straight up: work. Work hard. Don’t be lazy, or idle. And don’t grow weary in doing this good work (2Thessalonians 3:13). 

Work was a creation mandate, established even before the fall. God worked (He created). Adam worked (he named the animals and had dominion over them). And for the rest of time since, the people made in God’s image work and will work. Was Paul talking about a 9-to-5 career, a desk job and an expense account? No, he wasn’t. In fact, the historical Protestant work ethic mixed in with the rags-to-riches American dream has undoubtedly distorted our view of work as a chiefly economic practice. But work is innate to our life and our calling as Christians, whether that work is at a Fortune 500 company, a grocery store, a school, caring for a sick parent, or taking care of a home and children. Paul doesn’t distinguish or categorize work: one type is not better or more righteous than the other. But he is clear on one thing: work matters. 

Work is, in fact, critical to our flourishing as humans. Our witness to the gospel is bound up in our work, in the way we care for others and work for the good of those around us. In his book Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller writes about work being a “channel of God’s love for his world.” So, if work—be it at home, at a hospital, in a church, or at a restaurant—is a way to carry God’s love outward, it makes sense that Paul would be aghast at idleness. 

Work will bring weariness, pain, suffering, frustration. It will break us, mold us, and tempt us to create idols in our hearts. Work is broken by sin and ungodly motivations, but it still belongs to God. He made us to work, and Paul exhorts us to not grow weary in this good, good work of image-bearing, creating, and serving the God who loves us. He has commissioned us to be His ambassadors in this busy, working world. 

Post Comments (48)

48 thoughts on "A Call to Responsibility"

  1. Heidi McColly says:


  2. Kim Gillis says:


  3. Jennifer Ficklen says:

    May my work in and outside of the church glorify God. Let me never be idle, but remember to rest in Christ. Amen

  4. Paula Strong says:

    Oops we ARE to love one another!

  5. Paula Strong says:

    I read the scriptures here differently than I have before. I feel like the work Paul is referring to is the work for the Lord. Many times christians will twist these words and make them political. May we never retire or grow lazy from serving God and others. Hebrews 13:1-4 also states we should “stay on good terms with each other held together with love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when needed.” We are not to love one another and serve. This is what I think of when I read about work.

  6. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I recently became a stay at home mom when my daughter was born. It has definitely changed my view of “work.” Work doesn’t have to be something that you get payed for doing to make it important. I’m so thankful that I get the opportunity to stay home with her. I pray that even in the little ways I serve her, God would be glorified.

  7. K Swenson says:

    I love reading everyone’s thoughts and experiences! In battling severe depression myself, my work as a stay at home mom and wife has looked very different from what I had pictured. I have to remember that even with all the things I can’t do in this season, God sees the little I can do and it’s a pleasing offering to Him. Thankful for this study and for all of you ❤️

  8. Mercy says:

    Our works on earth bring glory to God in Heavens. He ordains us in our good works, both to will and to carry out. “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” (Proverbs 22:29). Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth (Proverbs 10:4). I am so humble to hear your stories of your works. May God bless the works of our hands, that whatever we do shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

    Thank you Adelynn for explaining further on ““do not associate with such persons, so that they may feel shame” (2 Thessalonians 3:14). I looked up on a Strong Concordance app and truly “Shame” here is to provoke those stagnant brothers to “respect and reverence”, as you said, not to belittle them. Thank you so much for that deep insight. That truly gives this instruction of Paul a whole new level of dignity.

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