“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10).

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To illustrate the effects of idleness, the Spanish philosopher Unamuno told a story about an old Roman aqueduct that carried cool water from the mountains to the people of Segovia for nearly 2,000 years.

Wanting to preserve the architectural marvel, the people of Segovia decided to run iron pipes to carry water to the town and relieve the aqueduct of its duties.

But a funny thing happened. As soon as the water was diverted, the aqueduct began to crumble. The hot sun dried out the mortar and caused it to crack.

Unamuno’s lesson: Idleness can destroy what years of service cannot.

The church in the Greek town of Thessalonica was fairly wealthy, and Paul warned its members to avoid idleness and encouraged them to stay busy for the work of the Lord.

“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

French philosopher Voltaire said this: “Shun idleness. It is a rust that attaches itself to the most brilliant metals.”

Theologian Matthew Henry put it this way: “If we are idle, the devil and a corrupt heart will soon find us something to do. The mind of man is a busy thing; if it be not employed in doing good, it will be doing evil.”

As the old saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”

Paul is not encouraging us all to become workaholics. There is a time for everything: a time to work and a time to rest. However, idle time is fertile ground for sin, so we should plan to spend our free time on activities filled with purpose. Avoid situations that could lead to sin.

For instance, calling a friend “just to talk” could lead to a gossip session, or sitting on the couch “just to relax for a while” could lead to watching unwholesome TV shows.

How we spend our time defines who we are.

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>What are some ways you can avoid idleness?

>Are there specific times or circumstances when you are more susceptible to sin? How can you avoid these?

>What are some positive activities you can do in your spare time?