Make it your ambition . . . to mind your own business and work. (1 Thess. 4:11)

The strangest thing happened whenever there were dishes to be done. The younger sibling’s bladder suddenly called for relief, leaving the eldest child (my future wife) to do the chore herself. Finally, her mom told her to leave the dishes in the sink. When the younger sibling emerged from the restroom, all the cleaning up was still there to do!

Just like my wife’s sibling, the Thessalonians’ Greco-Roman culture despised manual labor and tried to avoid it. Work was for the poor and slaves. The wealthy could afford not working, and a system of patronage was in place so that the clients or friends of the wealthy didn’t have to work either. They could live off the handouts of their rich patrons. Those who had the means to live without working filled their days with socializing, minding others’ business, and chasing fashion, fine dining, and entertainment.

The apostle Paul called his Thessalonian converts to an alternative lifestyle of honest work. While he’d been with them, he had practiced the work ethic that he preached (see 1 Thess. 2:9). By following his example, they could free themselves from the patronage system that might pressure them to compromise their new faith. They’d become self-supporting and good witnesses for Christ. These are still good reasons to work hard today—whether dealing with work orders at the jobsite or dishes in the sink!

Display a work ethic that honors Christ.

Jerome Van Kuiken grew up in the Philippines as the child of missionaries. He teaches Bible, theology, and apologetics at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and serves in the children’s ministry at his local church.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.