By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
We are not good at waiting. We ought to be. We spend most of our lives waiting. Waiting requires patience, endurance, wisdom and commitment. We are to live obediently as we wait for the return of Christ.
But how do we wait? Why do we wait? How is it possible to wait for the return of the Lord and to do so in ways that make us effective for the Lord? And what happens when we don’t wait patiently, actively and faithfully?
Established standards (II Thessalonians 3:6-9). While waiting for the return of the Lord we cannot become spiritually lazy. This is why clarity in the standards by which we live is a must. What are these standards?
First, we are to avoid wicked and evil people (v. 6). Second, we ourselves are not to act in disruptive and disorderly ways (v. 7). Third, we are not to become idle or lazy, taking advantage of others (v. 8). Fourth, we are to work diligently with our hands so that we are not unduly, or unnecessarily indebted to others (v. 8). Fifth, we are to serve as an example to others (v. 9).
These are the standards by which we live. They’re not glamourous or complicated. Nor are they the only standards that apply to the believer. But they are so basic and general in that they apply to all believers.
Provide (II Thessalonians 3:10-12). Waiting can make some people lazy, however. Others believe that since Jesus is coming again, we really don’t need to worry about investing our time and talents in this life. “Let’s just hang on until Jesus comes, there’s need to impact the culture or make a difference for Christ,” some will say. But that is not the way it works.
The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian believers that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (v. 10). We are to work to provide for both our families and the church as long as we’re alive. Further, we’re to do kingdom work, winning the lost, discipling others and advancing the priorities of the kingdom of God.
Rather than productive lives lived for the Lord some live lives that are “disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (v. 11).
But this is not God’s pattern for righteous living as we wait for the return of the Lord. Instead, we are exhorted and commanded to live as Christians, with “quietness” as we “work, and eat their own bread” (v. 12). We are to provide for our own families and for the work of the Lord.
Discipline (II Thessalonians 3:13-15). But as we wait for the return of the Lord we do so with discipline and focus. We are not lazy or uncommitted. This is why we do not become “weary in doing well” (v. 13; see also Galatians 6:7-10).
Further, we are to obey God’s Word and if any believer will not obey God’s Word, we are to avoid that believer (v. 14). We are to not treat him as an enemy of the Word though. Our purpose ought to be to bring our brothers and sisters into conformity with God’s Word. Instead, we are to “admonish him as a brother” (v. 15). This is how we wait for the coming of the Lord. B&R