Life On Purpose
Read This Week: 2 Thessalonians 3
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. – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-7 NIV
When we hear the phrase on purpose, we tend to equate that to something negative. We tend to think of it as doing something wrong with forethought or intent. Like a person mistreating someone on purpose or committing a crime on purpose or a child being mean to their sibling on purpose. But the idea of living on purpose is different. It is an incredibly positive thing. In fact, knowing our purpose is vital to living on mission with God and to experiencing the life He intended for us.
Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians talking about purpose. He makes it clear that it is measured by doing what God has called us to do. He is communicating to them and us that the only way we can know our purpose is to know and walk closely with God, who has created and destined us for it. Experiencing and doing life with God is the way our purpose is made known. Experience God, and you will discover your purpose.
Paul starts with an encouragement to pray. He asks them to pray for “the message of the Lord to spread rapidly and be honored”, for protection from bad people, and for them to be strengthened and have confidence in their work. Before he talks to them about how to continue living with purpose, he calls them to prayer.
Being prayerful is being purposeful. There is a deepening both vertically and horizontally when we pray. As we grow closer to God, we are inevitably growing closer to others who are doing life with God. In Jesus’ model prayer, he said, “Our Father in Heaven,” indicating that prayer is community with the Lord and one another. A purposeful life is one that is connected in fellowship to God and other people. Charles Spurgeon once said, “You cannot tell how much God’s servants are helped by the prayers of his people. The strongest person will be better for the prayers of the weakest believer.”
However, Paul goes on to state that people living on purpose should use discernment in who they affiliate with. He says in verse 6, “keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” We should avoid being that person or being influenced by people who have an unhealthy personal agenda. An agenda that is distracting to spiritual growth and the cause of Christ. This type of selfish ambition leads to the loss of efficiency, the devaluing of people and the minimization of objective truth for personal desire. Some people’s agenda isn’t always God’s agenda. Avoid these people on purpose.
2 Thessalonians 3 also warns that an idle person is not only disruptive but lazy and interfering. It says in verse 11 that “they are not busy; they are busybodies.” Someone living with purpose is not slothful with no motivation other than to be up in everybody else’s business. Paul made it clear to them and to us that followers of Jesus are to be about the mission, conscientious and looking to accomplish their work. A purposeful life is one of initiative; a servant with the integrity, energy and aptitude to take action for the glory of God and the good of others.
Lastly, a person living on purpose listens more than they talk. They listen, really listen to instruction and are teachable in their spirit. We are to be an active listener and a passive speaker. We don’t know it all and we never will no matter what the self-interested voice in our heads tell us throughout the day. The know-it-all who is unteachable is not a purposeful individual. A life of purpose is one that listens, absorbs and follows instruction. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. That’s how we live on purpose and “never tire of doing what is good.”
Reading this chapter, my mind automatically pointed to how going through the motions seems to be a “new normal”. I often notice a lack of motivation or a scared feeling of trying and failing. With our faith, there will be no poor results when working on spreading The Word. God simply wants His disciples to spread His Word. Who you tell about God’s love or where you share His message is insignificant to be a constant, hard-working individual. Only good can come from this mentality of being a driven and passionate follower.
As a family of believers, identifying those who are going through the motions and holding them accountable is important to do. It should always be in good faith as we are all guilty at times and need one another to grow. With verse 15 as an example, Paul states, “But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares”. I like the wording in the Message translation. Life can throw some curveballs our way every once in a while. We have times of little motivation and carelessness. It is human nature to be impacted in such a way.
However, when we come across examples of people going through the motions, it is often easy to get frustrated when seeing less passion or discovering those who have motives distracting from God’s message. Most importantly here, we need to work on positivity and accountability being present in all of our relationships. Each and every one of us needs that to stay on course as well as not cause distractions from God’s glory.
We find the best outcomes in our own spiritual journeys when we love one another, encourage one another, and pray to see God’s Word circulate through many different people and places. Also, a mentality of intentionally removing our personal desires from the picture, causing us to spread God’s Word unselfishly, will have the greatest positive impact as we will work for God’s agenda and not our own.
Brecken, thank you for the comment and insight on the passion and drive we are called to as followers of Jesus. I feel it is a basic element that is lacking in the Christian community especially in America and it speaks volumes to the content of our collective spiritual life. I pray God will continue to challenge us as Paul did the Thessalonians about living with purpose and intent and not allowing ourselves to become idle and complacent.
I really appreciated this line: “Most importantly here, we need to work on positivity and accountability being present in all of our relationships.” Expound on the effects of positivity and accountability in relationships and what that might practically look like when it comes to living with purpose.
As a culture, we thirst for positive relationships while also hoping for our peers’ respect. Accountability is one form of respect and care intertwined. It is not hostile and does not tear another person down. By definition, accountability means “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility”. Seeking to learn and grow more in our relationship with God, plus spreading His Word to non-believers, is our individual responsibility while we live on earth.
As believers, we publicly proclaim our faith and come together with a group who have also accepted Him as Lord. Displaying our faith is our willingness, and that public display is what also shows acceptance of these responsibilities of a follower. We need to remain steadfast in our journey with a hand on each others’ shoulders, so that we may encourage growth in the church.
Life throws curveballs and can easily distract from our relationship with the Lord, which can cause one’s self to remain stagnant in their spiritual growth. However, if our fellow believers encourage us by holding us accountable for consistent growth, substantial development will arise on a personal and interpersonal level.
I appreciate you bringing this up, Brecken. I think it is a worthwhile discussion to unpack accountability and its positive effects on relationships and communities. Unfortunately, we view accountability as a negative thing so much that it is avoided and often not practiced when it could be a valuable part of our growth experience and development as people and believers.
Your comment: “Life throws curveballs and can easily distract from our relationship with the Lord, which can cause one’s self to remain stagnant in their spiritual growth,” points to the importance of accountability for us all. We all need accountability in our lives. No person is above the obligation of responsibility and no one should be exempt from giving an account for decision-making, behavior and our tendencies to be idle and complacent. The Scriptures teach that it is “a good and pleasant thing for people to live together in harmony” and that we should strive to agree with one another so that division is minimized and we are united in thought. Accountability is a tremendous vehicle to achieve these ends.
Thank you for this valuable insight!
Something that comes to mind with this is when some people say “Oh you were lucky, or oh you had good luck.” I always take the time to speak up and mention that rather than lucky, we are blessed, by God. Someone saw our little boy the other day and said “wow he is so wonderful, you are really lucky”, to which I replied “Well luck had nothing to do with it, we are truly blessed by God. Our prayers and love and conversation with God before Everett (our son) was born had everything to do with it.”
God works on purpose, never on accident. I thank God every day for our boy and realize that “luck” is a man-made construct for those that maybe don’t realize that God is our “luck”. Everything is so beautifully and perfectly coordinated by God, that when we are prayerful and live our lives with the purpose to truly follow Him and spread our knowledge and love of Him to others, it only increases our spirits and love.
Thank you for the comment, Javaid. I agree that a purposeful life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God is not one of blind chance or luck. There are things that happen in our lives that are fortunate, but living in step with the Lord and following his Word is not about experiencing fortune or luck. It is an intentional, disciplined and purposeful thing. Paul’s words here in 2 Thessalonians 3 as well as in his letter to Timothy is proof of this where he says in chapter 2 verse 15 of 2 Timothy: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”
Overall, you arrived at an interesting place from the article and I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind expounding on the God being “our luck” statement that you made. I assume you are referring to His sovereign will, but I’d be curious to hear how that plays in with some of your other comments. I think this is a good discussion to have because it is relevant to everyone and certainly raises questions in believers and non-believers alike.
Absolutely. I was referring to God’s sovereign will, and how some non-believers, or complacent believers, will quickly chalk up a blessing to “luck”. I was speaking to the fact that when we are actively prayerful, purposeful, and actively engaging with God, this so-called “luck” seems to happen more often than not for us. The connection I was attempting to make is that God’s blessings are never on accident.
I truly believe the “idle” as referenced are the ones that would think that out of God’s enormous universe and life created, that things would happen by luck or chance, rather than divine intervention and God’s will. So even something as simple as refuting the claim of luck and explaining it was, in fact, a divine blessing, can raise awareness in those that would otherwise go on their day to day being “idle” and complacent. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Thanks for diving further into that idea and for your clarification. It does make more sense now. I think this was a good point: “The connection I was attempting to make is that God’s blessings are never on accident.” I agree with that and I think it is important to know about God’s sovereignty and even His perceived distance in life as it relates to our activities, lifestyles, and blessings.
I always think of this verse and truth from James 1:17 when the question is raised about God’s concern and his intentionality in the lives of human beings who know and seek Him: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The thing that jumps out here is that the gifts and blessings come from God’s unchanging nature and His sovereign consistency. Those “gifts” or “blessings” might not be what we think or want, but because He and his character are perfect and unchanging, His blessings are the same in their application to our lives.
This is such a deep topic and one probably too vast for this forum because I think “God’s will” and “God’s blessings” are often so misinterpreted by the believer and unbeliever alike and it leads to improper views of God and his nature as well as his relationship to us. Perhaps we could talk more one day. I would love that. I always appreciate your insight, Javaid.
Thank you for your explanation regarding luck. I feel that is another aspect of one’s spiritual journey to consider. Lots of people in today’s society have God’s plan revealed and use the term “luck”. God’s plan is never changing. He will always work in our life and the word “luck” is a secular term that we do use a lot. Understanding a bigger entity’s path for our lives and intertwining it with this imperfect world is certainly not beneficial.
Thank you for sharing that, Javaid. People don’t realize how blessed we are in life for everything that is good. It’s from the Father. I love it when we have an opportunity to share with people how blessed we are. It has nothing to do with luck. Thank you for standing up for God. God also puts people in our life to do life together as a family, that is a blessing too. You are a blessing to us, Javaid. We love you!
It’s interesting to hear you talk about how people use the word luck. Someone just said that to me yesterday, good luck. And I replied, I don’t need luck. But thank you for the sentiment, wishing me well. God’s plans and purposes for your life, His guidance his direction has nothing to do with luck. It’s about trusting God and following His perfect plan for your life.
I love this verse in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace (the peace of His kingdom) at all times and in all ways [under all circumstances and conditions, whatever comes]. The Lord [be] with you all.
I believe Paul is Praying for the people ( talking to God about the Thessalonians) asking, hoping that they would continue to know that God is with them.
It’s a awesome blessing to have someone like Paul who can teach us and be praying that people would respond to God and to do life with Him. And to continue to seek His peace, and to know that like in John 14:27 says that Jesus gave us His peace.
God is peace ( having a sense of security that does not depend on external circumstances. Peace is found by living in accord with God and His word. God is the source of peace, having a relationship with God brings peace, unity, and fulfillment.
Having total peace comes from living life with God.
You lose your peace when you allow yourself to get into worry, when you become angry, or you get stressed out.
It’s important to learn how to find peace in Jesus. Example is in Peter 3:11
Peter 3:11 Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]
God is saying to you and I, ” I love you so much I am with you 24-7, My Holy Spirit will teach you as you seek Me with your whole heart, learn to know that I’m all about peace. as soon as you start to feel agitated, upset, troubled about something come to Me I will help you.
It does take some work to learn so don’t give up, trust Me, I already know what’s going on in your life.
so, seek My Peace in everything you do.”
So thankful to God that we have a new day to continue to learn how to stay in His peace. Pray for the brothers and sister’s to continue to desire a relationship with God and then let His Love flow to the people He has put in our life and to desire to seek Jesus and learn how to live in Peace.
I love reading about the other biblical examples you mention relating to this chapter! I think peace is one of the most important qualities we should have as believers. We cannot do right by God if we are not at peace with our own lives. I feel like it is very relevant to always pray for peace and seek peace in new journeys throughout our life. I have had my own conversations with God regarding peace of mind and confidence in His plan for my life. When going through multiple hardships, God always shows me the light in the darkest times, which I will never lose confidence in as long as I live.
I hope everyone is having a blessed week. God is so amazing and I have a song that I would like to share:
Living with you Jesus, Living with you
Wanting to desire you and learn your wonderful ways
Staying ready for you, staying ready for you
Staying ready for you, our Lord
Showing your people your mercy, grace, and love
Your mercy, grace, and love
Living with you, living with you
Giving us strength, standing strong
Standing strong, standing strong for you our Lord.
God is saying to all of us to stand strong I got you. He is the most caring, loving, sweetest God. He understands all of our fears and feelings. He goes through everything with us and we are never alone. I thank you, Jesus. Thank you for your mercy, grace, and love.
Thank you for sharing the song that God laid on your heart, Alma. I appreciate the theme of being ready in your words and waiting on God as we draw on His strength. That is such a great reminder as we face challenges, hardships, and temptation every day in our lives. Your comment and song made me think of this one from Bethel that encourages us in the same way you did:
I feel it in my bones, You’re about to move
I feel it in the wind, You’re about to ride in
You said that You would pour Your spirit out
You said that You would fall on sons and daughters
So like the rain, come and drench us in love
Let Your power rush in like a flood
So come and blow on through
Spirit move, we’re ready for You to
Come and blow on through
Come and do what only You can do
We are fixed on this one thing
To know Your goodness and see Your glory
We’re transformed by this one thing
To know Your presence and see Your beauty