Busy Bodies or Busybodies?

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.


2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Introduction

Besse Cooper of Monroe, Georgia, celebrated her 116th birthday Sunday, August 26, 2012.  She recaptured her position as the world’s oldest living person; bestowed upon her in January 2011.  She relinquished the title after someone found that Maria Gomes Valentim was 48 days older.  She regained her title in June 2011 after Valentim died.  She received a plaque from Robert Young, senior consultant of gerontology for Guinness World Records marking this milestone.  She reported, “The secret to her longevity was not eating junk food, and [she confessed] ‘I mind my own business.’”[1]

Someone said, “2000 years ago the Jews were looking for a Lion and got a Lamb.  2000 years later, Christians are looking for a Lamb and will get a Lion.  When Christ returns He’s no longer on a throne of mercy. . .  He is on a throne of justice!”

From 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 we read, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.  For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.  For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.  Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.  And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Please note three things about a disorderly walk from our passage.

I. We find an exhortation regarding a disorderly walk.

From 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we read, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”

Disorderly conduct is “A broad term describing conduct that disturbs the peace or endangers the morals, health, or safety of a community.”[2]

Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) explains, “A ‘disorderly walk’ denotes conduct that is in any way contrary to the rules of Christ.  The proper idea of the word used here (???????,) is that of soldiers who do not keep the ranks; who are regardless of order; and then who are irregular in any way.  The word would include any violation of the rules of Christ on any subject.”[3] For example, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”

Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”  Dr. Albert Barnes explains, “This shows that by the word ‘tradition’ the apostle did not mean unwritten doctrines handed down from one to another, for he evidently alludes to what he had himself taught them, and his direction is not that that should be handed down by them, but that they should obey it.”[4]

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”

Dr. Albert Barnes comments on the phrase, “That [Who] are unruly – Margin, ‘disorderly.’  The word here used (??????? ataktos), is one which properly means ‘not keeping the ranks,’ as of soldiers; and then irregular, confused, neglectful of duty, disorderly.  The reference here is to the members of the church who were irregular in their Christian walk.  It is not difficult, in an army, when soldiers get out of the line, or leave their places in the ranks, or are thrown into confusion, to see that little can be accomplished in such a state of irregularity and confusion.  As little difficult is it, when the members of a church are out of their places, to see that little can be accomplished in such a state.  Many a church is like an army where half the soldiers are out of the line; where there is entire insubordination in the ranks, and where not half of them could be depended on for efficient service in a campaign.  Indeed, an army would accomplish little if as large a proportion of it were irregular, idle, remiss, or pursuing their own aims to the neglect of the public interest, as there are members of the church who can never be depended on in accomplishing the great purpose for which it was organized.”[5]

What is the great purpose for which the church was organized?  Some would tell you one thing and others would tell you yet another thing.  However, the great purpose for which the church was organized is the Great Commission as we find in Matthew 28:18-20.  Here we read, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’  Amen.”

II. We find an example against a disorderly walk.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 we read, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.  For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”

All too often we hear “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”  Paul teaches by precept and by example.  Paul writes in Philippians 4:9, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  What things?  Paul writes in Philippians 4:2-8, “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.  Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

It is interesting to note that most busybodies among those who name the name of Jesus Christ have control issues.  They cannot control their life so they desire to control yours and mine.  They will not help you unless they are in absolute control.  Paul provides a corrective in Philippians 2:1-4, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Here, Paul clearly teaches that we should be concerned about helping others.  However, our primary concern is to help others know and do the will of God.  At this point it is helpful to read the “one another” passages in the Bible.  For example, we read in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In face of unjust criticism and unfair compensation Paul the apostle stayed busy in his ministry.  He remained faithful and fervent in the service of the Lord.  Even still, for some reason the Corinthians felt Paul was not worthy of his wages as a servant of the Lord.  He writes in 2 Corinthians 11:5-14, “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.  Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge.  But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.  Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?  I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.  And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.  And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.  As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.  Why?  Because I do not love you?  God knows!  But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder!  For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Paul commends the Philippians for their financial support of his ministry, as we read in Philippians 4:10-20, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.  Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.  For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.  Indeed I have all and abound.  I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

III. We find an exposé of a disorderly walk.

From 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15 we read, “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.  Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.  And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments on 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “There were busy-bodies among them: and it should seem, by the connection, that the same persons who were idle were busy-bodies also.  This may seem to be a contradiction; but so it is, that most commonly those persons who have no business of their own to do, or who neglect it, busy themselves in other men’s matters.  If we are idle, the devil and a corrupt heart will soon find us something to do.  The mind of man is a busy thing; if it be not employed in doing good, it will be doing evil.  Note, Busy-bodies are disorderly walkers, such as are guilty of vain curiosity, and impertinent meddling with things that do not concern them, and troubling themselves and others with other men’s matters.  The apostle warns Timothy (1Ti 5:13) to beware of such as learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and are not only idle, but tattlers also, and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not.”[6]

In 1 Timothy 5:9-16 Paul warns, “Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.  But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.  And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.  Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.  For some have already turned aside after Satan.  If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.”

Rev. Matthew Henry comments on 1 Timothy 5:13, “Observe, It is seldom that those who are idle are idle only, they learn to be tattlers and busy-bodies, and to make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren.”[7]

From Proverbs 6:13-19 we read, “A worthless person, a wicked man, / Walks with a perverse mouth; / He winks with his eyes, / He shuffles his feet, / He points with his fingers; / Perversity is in his heart, / He devises evil continually, / He sows discord.  Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; / Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.  These six things the Lord hates, / Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:  A proud look, / A lying tongue, / Hands that shed innocent blood, / A heart that devises wicked plans, / Feet that are swift in running to evil, / A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.”

Paul writes in Romans 16:17-20, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience has become known to all.  Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Amen.”

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.  For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”

Dr. Robert South (1634-1716) explains, “There are some whose restless, insinuating, searching humor will never suffer them to be quiet unless they dive into the concerns of all about them; they are always outward bound, but homeward never; they are perpetually looking about them, but never within them; they can hardly relish or digest what they eat at their own table, unless they know what, and how much, is served up to another man’s; they cannot sleep quietly themselves unless they know when their neighbor rises, and goes to bed; they must know who visits him, and who is visited by him; what company he keeps; what revenues he has, and what he spends; how much he owes, and how much is owed to him.”[8] Peter reports the serious nature of being a busybody as we read in 1 Peter 4:15, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.”

As a young man of 12, Jesus asked Mary and Joseph, “Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  (Luke 2:49)  Several years later, Jesus told the Parable of the Minas, recorded in Luke 19.  He told about a certain nobleman who instructed his servants, “Do business until I come” (Luke 19:13).  We must busy ourselves in our Father’s business and do business until Jesus comes.

Remember, before we can do the Father’s business; we must do business with the Father.  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

Conclusion

Bumper stickers carry messages of all sorts.  Recently, I saw one exclaiming, “JESUS IS COMING EVERYONE LOOK BUSY!”  Since the Lord is not impressed with our attempts to make an impression, we should say, “JESUS IS COMING EVERYONE GET BUSY!”

May we sing with Elizabeth K. Mills (1805-1829), “We’ll work till Jesus comes, / We’ll work till Jesus comes, / We’ll work till Jesus comes, / And we’ll be gathered home.”[9] Jesus said in John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe shares in With the Word, “Some people are constructionists, helping get the job done.  Others are destructionists, busy tearing things down.  A third group is made up of obstructionists who create problems for the people doing the work.  In which group are you?”[10]

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the choice is up to us, will we be busy bodies or busybodies?


[3]Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[4]Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[5]Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[6]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (1710), 2 Thessalonians 3:11

 

[7]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (1710), 1 Timothy 5:13

 

[8]Robert South, Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions , Volume 3 (New York: Hurd & Houghton, 1870), p. 338

 

[9]Elizabeth K. Mills, “We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes”, Available from: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/e/l/wellwork.htm Accessed: 08/04/12

 

[10]Warren W. Wiersbe, With the Word (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1993), p. 264

 

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684

http://www.wordsearchbible.com/products/Sound_Biblical_Preaching_1476.html

http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

© September 2, 2012 All Rights Reserved