2 THESSALONIANS 3:11 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Jan 22-29)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11).
There is a great deal of talk about "work" today. For example, there are increasing numbers of young people championing the idea that you shouldn't have to work to live (the "Universal Basic Income"). Under this idea, everyone would receive a paycheck just for being alive - meaning people wouldn't have to ever leave their apartment if they didn't want to do so. Unfortunately, this idea fails to understand how we are made and the sin nature of our human nature.
Man was made for beneficial work. And in this way, we were made in the image of God, for God is a God of work. God created all things for His glory, and yet all that he designed was made to benefit others. God’s work brings Himself pleasure and it brings life to His creation. The galaxy serves its stars, the sun serves the grass, the grass serves the cow, and the cow serves man, and we serve God. All things were made to serve one another. Unfortunately, sin has caused havoc in this order, yet it is still discernible through the veil of corruption and death. By our very design, we were made to emulate God with works of our own that benefit ourselves and benefit others.
It is self-evident that without work to do, people dissipate into self-harm and harming others. You've probably heard the old expression: "Idle hands do the devil's work." Meaning that if you don't have something good to apply your energy to, you will apply it to harmful things (harmful to you and harmful to others). This is because our flesh is in bondage to the sin nature, which is at enmity with God and desiring its own pleasures at the expense of others.
We can see an example of this today with the many Millennials who returned from college to live in their parent's homes with no desire or will to work. They dissipate themselves and their parents substance with entertainment, amusement, and self-indulgence, while lending support to political ideologies equally detached from reality that promise them freedom from work and which tear at the fabric of our society. They eat up the substance of others in self-dissipation.
What is beneficial work? From a practical perspective, beneficial work is anything that benefits yourself and others at the same time. This is what is called in economics a "free" market because it is based on the idea of a mutually beneficial exchange. For example, the factory worker at the toothbrush factory is paid a living by people who need a special kind of toothbrush for their receding gums. Both people get something they need from this exchange of labor. Generally speaking, most labor in this world is providing a service to someone who needs that labor. Work is ultimately about service to others for compensation. It is mutually beneficial.
Work also gets us out of ourselves, because in order to make our living, we must serve the needs of others, whether we are a barista at a coffee shop, a grocery store owner, or an engineer - we are providing a service to those that need it. Working for yourself forces you to serve others and be interested in their needs.
For Believers, there is an additional component to work. We are not only created for mutually beneficial work, but we are created in Christ for "good works." These works do not merit salvation, for that is the free gift of God to all who Believe in Jesus - no, these works are for God's glory and the good of all. "Good works" are done in love, and bring glory to God and good to others without necessarily directly benefiting ourselves. Good works are acts of self-sacrifice - done in honor of Jesus who lived a sacrificial life for the good of others at the complete expense of Himself - with the promise of glory later. Interestingly enough, even though they don't directly benefit us, these acts of self-sacrifice greatly benefit our communities in very practical ways. Good works might include visiting the sick, helping the poor, protecting the fatherless, defending the helpless, preaching the Gospel, helping the less fortunate, teaching, etc. Good works proceed from the Holy Spirit in us, for it is His fruit growing in us that motivates our good works of self-sacrifice and love, which nourish our neighborhoods.
As Believers, we are told in Scripture to view any work that we do as being done for Jesus, not for others - in this way we recognize that even as God works in countless ways for our good every day, we emulate Him by serving His will for us and for others in our lowly works. Why? To fulfill the first and second Commandments. “And He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:37-40). We do good works for the love of God and our love for our neighbors.
As we begin this new year together, we all have works planned for the months before us. And there are many works ahead of us that we do not know about. In all these things whether they are our daily work for our living or the good works inspired in us by the Spirit, may we do all things for Christ. Amen. Come, Lord, Jesus!
Other verses to consider:
“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-13).
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3:23-24).
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2).
“For He pays a man according to his work, And makes him find it according to his way” (Job 34:11).
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1).
Thankfulness for God’s works
“Because they do not regard the works of the Lord Nor the deeds of His hands, He will tear them down and not build them up” (Psalm 28:5).
“For the word of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness” (Psalm 33:4).
“Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men” (Psalm 66:5).
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17).
“He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works” (Psalm 104:13).
“The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).
“Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).
“A worker’s appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on” (Proverbs 16:26).
“He also who is slack in his work Is brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
“The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work” (Proverbs 21:25).
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working’” (John 5:17).
“Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you” (Romans 16:6).
“Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord” (Romans 16:12).
“Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).
“To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:11-12).
“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load” (Galatians 6:3-5).
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
“But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).