Yet we hear that some of you are leading undisciplined lives and accomplishing nothing but being busybodies.
I. IT INJURES THE RECIPIENT. Thus paupers are bred and multiplied.
1. The sin of idleness is encouraged; for idleness is a sin. Those who encourage it will have to bear part of the guilt of it.
2. The indolent are tempted to many vices. The idle members of the Church gave to the Thessalonians the greatest trouble. Work is a moral antiseptic.
3. Independence is destroyed. The able-bodied pauper is quite unmanned by the loss of his independence. There was some sense in those stern old Elizabethan laws against sturdy beggars and vagrants.
II. IT INJURES THE GIVER.
1. Where public funds are thus misappropriated, an injustice is done to those who contribute to them. We do not pay poor rates in order to encourage idleness, nor do we give communion offerings for that unworthy object. District visitors who have the administration of moneys subscribed by other people should remember this, and not permit soft-heartedness to oust justice.
2. Where only private benevolence is concerned, the heart is hardened in the end by the sight of the abuse of charity.
III. IT INJURES THE TRULY NEEDY. We take the children's bread and give it to dogs, and the children starve. The idlers are the most clamorous for assistance, while the deserving are the most backward to make their wants known. Suffering in silence, they are often neglected, because greedy, worthless persons step in first and ravage the small heritage of the poor.
IV. IT INJURES THE COMMUNITY.
1. It discourages industry generally. Not only are the idle encouraged in their discreditable way of living, but a tax is put upon industry, and men do not feel so strongly inclined to work honestly for their daily bread.
2. It propagates the worst class of society. The idle part of the population of great cities are the canker of civilization. There vice and crime breed most freely. It is the law of England that no man need starve. But it is right and necessary that when the state gives bread it should compel labour - i.e., of course, if there is health for work. Idleness is the curse of the East; Syrian felahin will sit to reap their corn. Wise Christians will ever protest against this fatal vice, and all who administer Church funds should feel a heavy responsibility resting upon them to guard against increasing it by well meant but foolish doles of charity. - W.F.A.
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies
I. DOING USELESS THINGS, things which concern no one, and might as well be left alone: as, e.g., magic, which is described by this word (Acts 19:19); or natural science, which is so described in the Athenians' accusation of Socrates!
II. MEDDLING WITH MATTERS WHICH DO NOT CONCERN THE DOER, BUT DO CONCERN OTHER PEOPLE (1 Timothy 5:18). Bishop Lightfoot suggests, that the play can be kept up through the words "business" and busy; we might perhaps say, not being business men, but busy bodies. But which of the two notions mentioned above is to be considered most prominent here, we cannot tell for certain.
1. The Thessalonians do not seem to have been much carried away by the first class of dangers — idle speculations such as those of the Ephesian and Colossian churches. Yet we cannot altogether exclude this meaning here. St. Paul's readers had been overbusy in theorizing about the position of the departed at Christ's coming (1 Thessalonians 4:15), and had been so eager over their idle doctrines of the Advent as to falsify, if not actually to forge, communications from St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Such false inquisitiveness and gossiping discussions might well be described by the Greek word we are now considering.
2. Everything, however, points to a more practical form of the same disposition to mask idleness under cloak of work; feverish excitement, which leads men to meddle and interfere with others, perhaps to spend time in "religious" work which ought not to have been spared from everyday duties (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12). There is nothing to shew definitely how this busy idleness arose, but it may very probably be the troubled and shaken condition of mind spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:2.
(Canon Mason.)That with quietness they work —1. There is probably no means of grace more strengthening against temptation, more healthful for the spirit, more uplifting towards God, than honest, earnest work. When God placed man in the Garden of Eden, He placed him there not for the sole purpose of contemplation, but to dress the garden and keep it. The Saviour is reputed to have worked at His foster father's bench, and thus to have consecrated all human toil. Even His Sabbaths were spent in worship and in doing good. The most religious life is often thus a life of unremitting toil.
2. Upon the scroll of Nature is written the gospel of work. For Nature seldom supplies our necessities or meets our conveniences by provisions ready made for use. Nature furnishes the raw material: the Clay to be fashioned into bricks, the iron to be converted into machinery, the fertility of the soil to be husbanded by cultivation, the produce of distant lands to be first transferred by the seaman's endurance and the merchant's enterprise to the place of manufacture, and then to be spun and woven by the diligence of the artizan into cloth suitable for wear. Even Nature declines to satisfy our wants unless we work in her laboratories, and recognize the Divine obligation of earning our bread by the sweat of the brow. Nature thus exalts every labourer into a disciple of God, learning in the Book of Nature the dignity and value of toil.
3. History harmonizes with Nature in the pronouncement of this verdict upon the blessedness of work. The most forward nations of the world are those which have been compelled by the necessities of climate and geographical position to labour most diligently for their daily sustenance. The most backward races are those which dwell in sunny lands, where fruits grow without strenuous husbandry, and where the glow and inspiration of effort are only partial and weak.
4. The experience of the Church may be added in favour of the elevating influence of work. Where does infidelity most abound? Not among the busy and industrious classes, but among the luxurious, the leisurely, the indolent. Doubters may not be always drones, but drones are commonly doubters. The pests of the commonwealth and the poisons of society are its loungers, its idlers, its non-working element; those who simply "eat the fruits of the earth and do no good and die"; who neither work for their own private advantage, nor devote themselves to the public weal. The idle man is in the full glare of temptation, and upon the high road to iniquity.
5. Work is a great preservative for the soul. It drains off the evil humours of the flesh; it parries the thrusts of temptation; it yields the fruits of a peacable heart; it delights with the reflection of useful service to others; it gives to man the exalted sense of being a cooperator with God in Nature, in the world, and in the Church,
(J. W. Diggle, M. A.)
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