Electric Light Orchestra has a song entitled “Turn To Stone” that aptly describes some of the content of the second epistle to the Thessalonians. Within the song, Jeff Lynne expresses how his life comes to a standstill when he is not in the presence of his love. Essentially, he “turns to stone” because she is not at “home.”
The Thessalonians were very confused about the second coming of Christ. Paul had tried to clear up some of the Thessalonians’ misconceptions about the Lord’s return in the first letter that he had addressed to them (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Even so, certain misconceptions persisted. Though comforted that their deceased loved ones in the Lord were safe, they began thinking that Jesus’ return was imminent or, worse, that it had already happened. Thus, some of them “turned to stone.” That is, those of that erroneous mindset quit working! Therefore, these confused brethren were just sitting around awaiting the bliss awaiting the redeemed when our Lord returns to claim His own or, perhaps, wallowing in the depression that they missed out on Heaven.
Paul rebuked these “stony” brethren. Beginning with 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul addresses their idleness. He warns faithful brethren, first of all, not to associate with their idle brethren (cf. 3:6). (What do you suppose would happen if we put this admonition into practice today?) In fact, they were not even to eat a meal with those erring brothers and sisters (cf. 3:10)! Second, Paul exhorts all Christians to “earn their keep” as he had done while laboring in Macedonia (cf. 3:7). Remember that Paul was a tent maker as well as an evangelist. Though not recorded in Acts, Paul apparently performed his secular work whilst among the Thessalonians so that, even though he and his coworkers were entitled to financial support, he could preach to them without presenting a burden. Those ignoring Paul’s divinely-inspired instructions were to be noted or marked (i.e., disfellowshipped–cf. 3:14). Even so, the faithful brethren were tasked with maintaing compassion for their erring brethren, such compassion as one ought to afford his brother or sister (cf. 3:15).
While true that Paul meant this in the physical sense, it is still profitable for one to ask himself, “What about my ‘spiritual work’?” Maybe you and I are faithful to labor for our bread but “turn to stone” when it comes to the work we are to be doing in God’s vineyard. God didn’t create us to be statues but, rather, to follow His statutes (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)!
Heavenly Father, send upon us today a spirit of refreshing if we have indeed “turned to stone.” Reanimate us by your love, and increase our faith. Lift us up, Lord, so that we may persist in Your service unto Your glorious return. In Jesus’ name. Amen.