Finally, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians “to work with your hands.” This is a call to diligence at work. The Thessalonians expected the immediate return of Christ. In their excitement and eager anticipation, they neglected their work. But such idleness isn’t pleasing to God. While very few Christians today will go so far, some might be tempted to think that it might be pleasing to God if they do the bare minimum at work in order to have more time to do what they consider to be more significant things for God. This is probably well intentioned, but it is not what God’s Word teaches us. Think about the instruction Paul gives to servants:
Obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. (Col. 3:22–23)
Our job at work is to be quiet, to mind our own business, and to work diligently and faithfully.
We should do all this so that we “may walk properly before outsiders”—in other words, so that we will be salt and light at our workplaces. After all, most of us will work surrounded by non-Christians. The way we go about our work will be an important aspect of our witness. God will use our diligent work to provide for us so that we may “be dependent on no one.” Instead, we will be able to make up for what may be lacking in the diligence of others, and we will be able to help those who are in need. All this will strengthen our Christian witness and might well be used by God to draw others to Himself.