08 November – Additional Notes

2 THESSALONIANS 3 – Claiming Benefits

One of the movies we have at home is the 1980s movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. She was a top executive in a marketing firm working 70-80 hours a week. But her cousin passed away and she unexpectedly “inherited” her cousin’s baby in his Will. She made the choice to keep the baby instead of giving her up for adoption. But within a short time, life was turned upside-down. After losing her partner (who couldn’t handle babies), her promotion to Partner in the firm was revoked because she could no longer keep up the work pace. When she eventually lost her job, she was reduced to making apple sauce on a farm in Vermont.

If I were to analyse my aspirations, she was the sort of person I’ve always wanted to be. I read books like Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and I worked the hours in my pursuit of an effective, purposeful, and potential-reaching life. But when my private landscape drastically changed after our Mikey passed away, I made the decision in 2012 to leave my role in International Finance, in order to write. For a stay-at-home Mum with a part-time cleaning job and no “kids” to look after anymore, my way over this new terrain is continually confusion.

Half-way through the movie Baby Boom, JC Wyatt (Diane Keaton) most certainly thought she’d made a bad decision. Out of the rat race, she was forced to redefine herself. Like her story, and with no tangible results from my writing on my horizon, it’s hard not notice just how “idle” life has become – at least in comparison to what it was.

There are times when life can go into “idle mode”. This can be caused by illness, redundancy, age and the natural life changes into the new season of retirement. A choice made could have left you floating in the shallows of life’s river. As you watch everyone float by on swift currents, you begin to wonder if that choice was the right thing to do after all.

In a society with a social benefit system that was originally designed for emergency use only, there can be a misguided belief that there’s a human right to claiming benefits. The unfortunate result is that it fosters idle hands. Now we have a generation who haven’t found out what they’re really good at. They may never reach their full potential – the design plan behind what they were created to be.

In today’s chapter, Paul’s motivation was always about the Good News message spreading rapidly and whether it’s honoured. [v1] He knew that the behaviour of the messenger can dishonour the message. I can’t claim the benefit of knowing my Maker and yet not be like Him. For the sake of the Creator’s message and those acting in Jesus’ name, Paul actually commanded these Thessalonians to keep away from every believer who was idle and disruptive. [v6,14] Even back in the first century AD, the concept of people being idle, becoming busy-bodies [v11], and earning the bread they eat [v12], were social issues.

Paul used his own behaviour as a model to back up His teaching. But the overall message was always about being ambassadors of our Maker who is Himself continually at work. More than this, because the Lord is faithful, and He’ll strengthen and protect His people from the evil one. [v3] Paul had confidence that those reading his letter, would be doing what was expected of them. [v4] That they would exercise the same sort of perseverance that Christ had in the role that Father God gave Him. [v5]

If God is able, then in His design and by His power, I’m able. If He never fails, then in His design and power, I’ll not fail. He is the Almighty God, greater than all we seek and all we ask. He has done great things and in His design and by His power, I can do great things in His Name…

“He raises a flag, signaling a distant nation, whistles for people at the ends of the earth. And here they come—on the run! None drag their feet, no one stumbles, no one sleeps or dawdles. Shirts are on and pants buckled, every boot is spit-polished and tied.” [Isaiah 5:26-27 – The Message Paraphrase]

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