We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.
To some people, work is a bad word. They would rather live at the expense of another’s labor.
Here Paul lays down the law - If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
Paul doesn’t say if any cannot work, but rather if one can and won’t!
Apparently some in Thessalonica were expecting the immediate return of Jesus. They stopped working and became dependent on the largesse of others.
Not only were they a burden to hardworking friends, they became busybodies. Going from house to house, gossiping and generally being a nuisance.
Such people became a bad example of what it means to be a student of Jesus.
Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
There is something noble in work. Right thinking people respect one who earns his own bread, even if in the most menial job.
Paul reminds them of his own conduct when he was living among them.
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.
Good students of Jesus do not feel entitled to the benefits of another’s labor. They do not take advantage of the bonds of love between believers. They remember the Teacher’s words – It is more blessed to give than to receive! To have something to give, one must work!