“For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you, and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8 NET).
This portion of Paul the Apostle’s message to the Thessalonian church is reminiscent of the standard of conduct he referenced in another of his New Testament letters: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
As we see from this passage in 2 Thessalonians, Paul was certainly familiar with drudgeries of secular employment. However, Colossians 3:23-24 also implies that he viewed his work as a duty that God had entrusted to him. In a similar manner, we can find meaning and fulfillment in our work if we view it as a responsibility that God has given us.
A difficult, tedious, or unsatisfying job may prompt us to follow the poor example of some of these members of the Thessalonian church. However, those who labor “…as unto the Lord” (ASV) are motivated to perform quality work because it reflects well upon Christ even if they have no other reason for doing so. Consider the following observation on this subject…
“‘Some of you may say… my work is very humdrum and routine. I do the same old things over and over, and I get so tired of it.’ There is work like that, but the answer of Scripture to that situation is, ‘whatsoever you do in word or deed, do to the glory of God’ (Colossians 3:17 KJV), i.e., offer it as unto Jesus.
Even routine work can become very acceptable if you are concerned to do it as unto the Lord; every product that you turn out or every pull of the handle that you are responsible for, is done as unto the Lord; it is something he has asked you to do. That is the Christian philosophy of work. By means of that, we can transform even humdrum work into that which is meaningful and worthwhile.” (1)
Another commentator offers a perspective that we would also do well to consider…
“It is always a privilege to do even the most menial things for someone whom we love and respect and admire. All his life the Christian is on the business of the King.” (2)
(1) Excerpted with permission from Is Work a Curse? © 1988 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit www.RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org
(2) Barclay, William. “Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:1-2”. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/1-timothy-1.html. 1956-1959.