I have never come across a person that enjoys traffic. I know I don’t! For that matter is seems people have an aversion to any kind of lines or delays. If you are like me, you will do almost anything to avoid these hold ups. I will avoid driving during times of high traffic volumes, if I can. If I can’t I will leave earlier to give myself more time. I was reminded recently that traffic is not only a challenge in our daily lives but also in our spiritual lives. The traffic of interruption keeps us from moving forward in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, just like real life, there are many different sources for the spiritual traffic jams in our lives. One, spoken of in the Bible, is others. People that become obstacles to our forward progress in Christ. The Apostle Paul offers traffic warning to the newer believers in the Thessalonian church. He writes, “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
First, the Apostle Paul encourages us to take another route when an individual threatens to stall our spiritual growth in Christ. He communicates level of danger when he writes, “Now we command you!” Notice the command given with authority. I often refer to this as the “Dad voice.” A voice of the serious tone demanding proper action. He also communicated the urgency in his appeal in the name of our Lord.
Second, So what is Paul’s concern? His concern is that the “brothers” (in quotes) will hinder those desiring to grow in Christ. The word “idleness” communicates one that is not taking their faith seriously. The word “idleness” translates to a word that means to be disorderly. The risk is that a lack of commitment and seriousness of the “brothers” would quench the fire of those striving to live for Christ. Paul is speaking of those “Christians” that do not take their walk with Christ seriously.
One of the illustrations of leaven in the New Testament is the correlation with sin. The picture is that of a spiritually negligent individual detrimentally infecting another. These “brothers” were a spiritual barrier. The best way to avoid contamination is by avoiding contact. Paul reminds us, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Third, while traffic is mostly an inconvenience, spiritual idleness carries spiritual consequences. It robs the follower of Christ of the growth and blessing that could be theirs by investing in their relationship with Jesus, rather than living for themselves. It is also very contagious.
Paul’s admonition is for the follower of Jesus to avoid the life routes that would hinder us from growing in the Christ. The questions we must ask ourselves are, “Am I allowing others to hinder me in my spiritual development?” And, “What do I need to do to ensure that I will continue to focus on growing in Christ?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson