Grow More and More • Devotional #3: “Hands that Work”

We had the pleasure of recently celebrating my mother’s 95th birthday! At 95, her mind is sharp, but her body continues to deteriorate, especially her hands. She has painful arthritis in her hands, yet she daily works at puzzles, crafts, and other projects to keep them nimble. She could easily stop using her hands and be idle, but her hands would only further deteriorate and become unusable. Her doctors have told her to keep working with her hands to keep them moving. It is an age-old concept that even Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “To aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

Paul is speaking to the church in Thessalonica. He had instructed them in the past on how to live a God-honoring life, but they had slipped away from that knowledge. They were fixated on the second coming of Christ, which they thought was imminent, so some were idle, not working, and sitting waiting for that second coming. The wealthier Christians were having to take care of these slothful Christians and Paul was pointing out that you need to “work with your hands.”

I was raised on a farm. There is never a shortage of chores on a farm! My mother rose early to make breakfast before the day began. There were eggs to gather, gardens to weed, vegetables to can, and pigs to birth. She was always at work doing something on the farm. She set a good example for me and my brothers to avoid being idle, lest the work not get done! She was a true example of a “Proverbs 31 woman,” not eating the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).

Paul also set a good example for Christ’s followers in Thessalonica. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3). He worked day and night so he would not be a burden to others (1 Thessalonians 2:9-10). He had told them before, and he was telling them again, set a good example to outsiders (verse 12).

We should always be looking for, and prepared for, the second coming of Christ. Yet, we should not sit back, be lazy, and just watch and wait. We need to be working with our hands, earning a living, supporting our family, and most importantly, telling others about Jesus in hopes of bringing them to Jesus for salvation. Others are looking to us as an example. Be that example!

“No man understands fully the blessings

which God has bestowed on him,

if he has hands to work and will not work.”

Barnes Commentary

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