“Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12).
This admonition to “work quietly” (CSB) was nothing new for Paul the Apostle. In fact, Paul issued a similar directive in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica and later again in the New Testament book of 1 Timothy. We can gain a better understanding and appreciation for this directive by illustrating it with the concept of a workbench.
In this illustration, our workbench comprises the life and work that God has given us. The tools of our trade include the talents, skills, abilities, and/or opportunities that God has provided. Some have been given extensive workbenches with a high volume of work along with many tools and assistants. Then there are those who work largely alone on smaller workbenches with specialized tools that are designed to perform a specific task. Untold numbers of other craftpersons occupy every space in between.
For some, there may be a lengthy apprenticeship and training period before he or she begins work. Others are required to learn as they go with seemingly little or no external support. There may be some periods where the amount of work appears overwhelming while at other times, there are lengthy intervals between work assignments. Just as each human being is unique and different, so is the type and volume of work that God has placed upon our individual workbenches.
This brings us to Paul’s exhortation here in 2 Thessalonians 3:12. You see, it is often tempting to look at other workbenches to offer suggestions, criticisms, ideas, or opinions regarding the work that others perform. This may be appropriate if God has placed us in a supervisory capacity or whenever we encounter a work product that is clearly misaligned with God’s Word.
However, it is often better to focus upon our own workbench and the work that God has called us to do in most instances. Since it is difficult to produce quality work while simultaneously critiquing the work of others, the admonition given to us in 2 Thessalonians 3:12 offers a valuable reminder. While it may be God’s will for some to be placed in highly visible positions, the vast majority of God’s people are probably best served by working diligently and quietly as they dedicate their lives to representing Jesus well in the arena where He has placed them.
This illustration was partially inspired by Jesus’ Parable Of The Talents