The apostle Paul had high expectations of all who served with him. When John Mark departed prematurely from the work in Cyprus, Paul refused to have him along on his second missionary journey much to the chagrin of Barnabas. Paul also demanded much of himself in his own ministry and his missionary endeavors. He claimed to have labored more than others, and he spoke of pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This strong work ethic was rooted in God’s grace, not in a system of merit. As much as any man in the New Testament, Paul enjoyed the liberty of his justification, so his labor for the Lord was as a debtor to grace and through the continual bestowal of God’s grace upon his life.
As the Christian life is one of service, “well doing” should be our maxim for life. We are called to deny ourselves to serve the Lord and His people. Our conversion to Christ is a call to action. As the Lord’s redeemed, we are no longer our own; we are the Lord’s bond-slaves. We become soldiers of the cross and must be ready to give up the affairs of this life to please the Lord, who chose us to be His soldiers.
The apostle sought to stir up Timothy to boldness in service. He commanded him not to draw back due to his timidity and his youthfulness. Rather, Paul exhorted Timothy to be an example of the believers. From this veteran Christian we learn that “well doing” is a must. Believers are to find what they can do for God and do it with all their might. To do otherwise will blight their spiritual welfare and dampen the zeal of the Lord’s faithful servants. One slacker joined by another slacker could soon turn a whole congregation into slackers.
We note a number of things that may cause the busy believer to grow weary in the Lord’s work. Paul mentioned the “brother that walketh disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). This is a military expression to depict the soldier who is out of marching step. When he constantly falls out of step with his fellow marchers he brings mockery upon the whole platoon. This helps us to visualize the problem created by a disorderly Christian. To be out of step with fellow believers will not help to move the church forward. It will drag it down. Discouragement will follow a tardy example. In real terms it could be sporadic or late attendance or because one is known to be generally unpredictable or unreliable.
This spirit of laziness must have been a real problem in the church at Thessalonica for Paul had to caution the general congregation about some who “walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). According to Paul’s instruction (verse 14) such a person was to be noted and given no place in the fellowship of the saints until he was ashamed of himself.
Human nature being what it is and some professing Christians being the way they are, it is important for the faithful servant of the Lord to find the preventative medicine to this source of weariness. The busy pastor or other Christian worker who seeks to be faithful to his charge needs to apply the apostle’s twofold remedy:
“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). The enjoyment of the Saviour’s love in our souls and the hope of the Lord’s return in our minds will cure our many fainting fits. The context shows that “waiting for Christ” does not call us to cease from active service. Rather, it is to engage in cheerful endurance in the Lord’s work. Because Christ will return to this world in power and glory for the in-gathering of His church, our labor will bring an eternal reward.
We are to work by faith as much as we walk by faith. Serve the Lord, therefore, in the hope of His return with your eye on the eternal reward. Serve like Moses, who, “when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26).
In keeping with this New Testament exhortation, “Be not weary in well doing,” John Wesley advocated, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” So, never grow weary in well doing.