Loving Your Idle Neighbor | Values & Capitalism

RJ Moeller

R.J. Moeller graduated from Taylor University in 2005 with a degree in business and is currently a…Read more about RJ Moeller

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something in my “Bible & Economics” series, but I think a return to the topic is well served by the verses from II Thessalonians I’ve selected to delve in to today. This passage, more than perhaps any other in all of the New Testament, is responsible for directing a younger version of the R.J. Moeller that blogs before you today on a path leading sharply away from conventional modern thinking on the topics of welfare, wealth redistribution and the seemingly inescapable “social justice.” (By the way, is there “social truth” or “social patience”?)

From II Thessalonians 3:6-12:

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

A simple, straight-forward reading of this text is a clear and present danger to advocates of a welfare state, but especially to those who also claim allegiance to the body of Christ and his word. However, in a sinful, fallen world—one wrought with hypocrisies, guilt, past societal sins, etc.—“simple” and “straight-forward” are luxuries the thoughtful believer can rarely enjoy, at least not when entering the contentious fray of the public square with their theological convictions in tow (as they most definitely should).

So let me quickly give my brief exegetical overview of the passage above, and then connect a few dots between what Paul wrote and some of the appropriate conclusions one ought to be able to draw in terms of public policy debates.

Now there are some who try to deflect the very real importance of these verses to a Christian’s attitude about how best to help the poor by saying that the “idlers” Paul is calling out are simply misguided believers who are under the impression Christ’s return was imminent. This is a distinction without a difference. Being lazy on a nuclear submarine with the key that launches Armageddon might be different in form, but is no different in substance than an idle Dairy Queen worker who procrastinates sweeping up the sprinkles his portly manager asked him to take care of the previous day.

Habitual idleness is a matter of the heart. (Believe me, I know first-hand.)

Refusing to work or provide for your family because you’re convinced Jesus is returning over the upcoming three-day weekend is, according to scripture, just as much of a sin as an able-bodied human being refusing to work or provide for their family because some well-intentioned bureaucrat is intent on giving them money they didn’t earn.

Right off the bat in verse 6, Paul exhorts the church body to “keep away from” anyone who is living an idle, lazy life and remains needlessly dependent on others. Pretty harsh, no? Not very “social” of him, right? I’ll even admit that nearly every time I read these words, I wince a little. All of the “But what about…” exceptions and exemptions start piling up on my conscience.

But if we’re serious about scripture, we know that scripture is serious about sin. Idleness and making yourself a prolonged and unnecessary burden on someone else, is a sin. There’s no way around that. The Greek translation for the phrase “in idleness” translates to “in an undisciplined, irresponsible or disorderly manner.” Keep that definition in mind for later.

Verses 7-9 are Paul’s reminder that he hasn’t simply preached against things like idleness and being a burden on others, but has modeled for the good people of Thessalonica the appropriate way to live. Paul was a minister of the gospel, and therefore was entitled to living off of the charity that came from other believers. But he feared that a lifetime of such dependency would weaken his witness, and, I don’t think it is unfair to infer, his character.

Verse 10 is the big one: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Paul did not teach this difficult practice of the Christian life from afar, but said it face-to-face. Christian friends don’t enjoy confronting friends. Christian parents don’t delight in having to withhold certain things from their beloved children. Confronting people with difficult subject matter is made no less daunting by how true the subject matter is. It stinks. No way around it.

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Morning Prayers from Sts. Mechtilde & Gertrude – Audio Post

All prayers

Salute to the Heart of Jesus RECOMMENDATION TO JESUS  ASPIRATION TO JESUS INTENTION TO BE FORMED IN THE MORNING  COVENANT WITH GOD  Covenant to be renewed each week 

I ADORE, praise, and salute Thee, O most sweet Heart of Jesus Christ, fresh and gladdening as the breath of spring, from which, as from a fountain of graces, sweeter than the honeycomb, floweth ever more all good and all delight. I thank Thee with all the powers of my heart for having preserved me throughout this night, and for having rendered to God the Father praises and thanksgivings in my behalf. And now, O my sweet Love, I offer Thee my wretched and worthless heart as a morning sacrifice; I place it in Thy most tender Heart, and entrust it to Thy keeping; beseeching Thee that Thou wouldst deign to pour into it Thy Divine inspirations, and to enkindle it with Thy holy love. Amen.

RECOMMENDATION TO JESUS

It was revealed to St. Gertrude that if anyone commends himself to God, praying to be kept from all sin, God will never forsake him; and even though he be permitted to fall into some grievous fault, the grace of God will sustain him like a staff, and enable him to return more easily to repentance.

O JESUS, full of compassion, I commend to thee my spirit and my soul, in union with that love wherewith thou didst commend Thine Own to the Father on the Cross; and I place them in the most sacred wound of Thy tender Heart, that they may be therein protected from all the snares of the enemy. Thou knowest, O good Jesus, and I know by my own sad experience, how weak and frail I am, so that I could not of myself persevere in good, or resist temptation even for one single hour. Wherefore I pray Thee, by the reverence due to that union wherein Thy manhood is united to the adorable Trinity for our glorification, that Thou wouldst deign to unite my will to Thine, and so to strengthen and secure it, that it may be unable to rebel against Thee. In union with Thy most sinless limbs, I commend to Thee all the members of my body, with all their movements, that they may throughout this day love for Thy glory alone, for Thy praise and Thy love. Amen.

ASPIRATION TO JESUS

Jesus said to St. Mechtilde: Whoever shall breathe a sigh towards Me from the bottom of his heart when he awakes in the morning, and shall ask Me to work all his works in him throughout the day, he will draw Me to him; so that his soul shall have life from Me even as his body has life from his soul, and he shall do all things through Me and by Me. For never does a man breathe a sigh of longing aspiration towards Me without drawing Me nearer to him than I was before.

O MOST loving Jesus, I breathe towards Thee this sigh, drawn from the depth of my heart, beseeching Thee with all my might that Thou wouldst deign Thyself to work in me all my works, whether of body or of soul, to cleanse them all in thy sweetest Heart, and to offer them, in union with Thine Own most perfect works, to God the Father as an eternal thanksgiving. Amen.

INTENTION TO BE FORMED IN THE MORNING

Our Lord revealed to St. Gertrude, that He records with letters of gold in the book of life all those actions which are done purely for the love of God, in union with the Passion of Christ, and for the salvation of all mankind, without thought of our own merit. And although all good works receive from God an abundant reward, those which are done simply and purely for His glory are of far higher merit, and obtain for us a far greater increase of glory.

O LORD, my God, for Thy sake I resolve to perform all my actions, whether outward or inward, purely for Thy glory, and for the salvation of the whole world; with such intention and in such manner as Thou dost desire and enjoin; and in union with that love whereby Thy Son came down from Heaven, and wrought out the whole work of our salvation, especially during His Passion. Wherefore I entirely disclaim all merit, all reward and grace which I might otherwise hope to obtain by these actions, that I may offer to Thee, my God, a pure sacrifice of praise, and give Thee a proof of my love.

COVENANT WITH GOD

O ALMIGHTY God, I sanctify, dedicate, and consecrate to Thee every beating of my heart, and every pulsation of my blood; and I desire to make this compact with Thee, that their every beating shall say to Thee: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; and I beseech Thee to impute this meaning to them, so that they may be before Thy Divine Majesty as the unceasing echo of that heavenly canticle, which seraphims sing without ceasing unto Thee. Amen. Amen.

MORE EXTENDED COVENANT gTO BE RENEWED EVERY WEEK

The great efficacy of this covenant may be shown thus: Were a person to resolve that by every movement he made he wished to be understood to ratify and approve all the sins that are committed all over the earth, and to be held a partaker of them, it is easy to see what guilt he would thus contract. And if such an intention would have so great influence for evil, why should it not have immense force and merit for good?

O LORD God, my Creator, all my desire is before Thee, and my groaning is not hidden from Thee; but inasmuch as the necessities of this life prevent the constant application of my mind to Thy praise, I make with Thee this covenant, earnestly desiring that it may remain in force throughout this week.

Whenever I look up towards Heaven, I desire and intend to rejoice with Thee in Thine infinite perfections; that Thou art what Thou art, supremely strong and wise and loving and just.

As often as I open or close my eyes, I desire and intend to approve and concur in all the holy actions which Thine Only-begotten Son, and all the Saints in Heaven and just on earth, have ever done, or shall ever hereafter do, to Thy glory, and desire to be held a partaker in them all.

As often as I draw my breath, I offer to Thee the Life and Passion and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the merits and sufferings of all the Saints, to Thine eternal glory, for the welfare and peace of all the whole world, and in satisfaction for the sins of all men.

Whenever I sigh, I intend to detest and abhor every sin, as well my own sins as those which have ever been committed from the beginning of the world against the honour of Thy Name. Would that the slight and worthless offering of my blood might be accepted in satisfaction for them!

Lastly, as often as I move my hand or my foot, so often do I cast myself with entire resignation upon Thy most holy will, desiring that Thou wouldst dispose of me in time and in eternity, according to Thine adorable Will.

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Scott Hahn: The Hour Is Coming

Morning Prayer – Audio Post

Salute to the Heart of Jesus

RECOMMENDATION TO JESUS 

ASPIRATION TO JESUS 
INTENTION TO BE FORMED IN THE MORNING 
COVENANT WITH GOD 

Covenant to be renewed each week

Biblical-Era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee | LiveScience

Biblical-Era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee | LiveScience.

Food For Thought – This Messianic People

See, the days are coming, says the Lord………..

It was Christ who established this new covenant, the new testament in his blood, calling into being, from Jews and Gentiles……….

This messianic people has Christ as its head: Christ who was given up for our sins and rose again for our justification; bearing now the name that is above every name, he reigns in glory in heaven……….

“This messianic people, then, though it does not in fact embrace all mankind and often seems to be a tiny flock, is yet the enduring source of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race. It is established by Christ as a communion of life, of love and of truth; it is also used by him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent out into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth.”  

(From the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council:The Church as sacrament of unity and salvation)