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. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV).
My son told me a story. He hasn’t practiced much formal religion in the last few years but he has constantly believed. Indeed, he has been trying to live out his rollercoaster faith in a rollercoaster world. Some days are more devout; some are the opposite. He told me that, last week, he prayed to meet new people, for he and his fiancé to meet new couples and make new friends. Later that same day he was outside his apartment and met a man and his wife who were moving in. He ended up helping them finish the move and they became friends. Answered prayer, answered in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then there is another family member, who is an unbeliever. He starts school today, starting his senior year. He’s openly hostile to God and, to be honest, is confronted by the works of the devil everywhere he turns. This boy not only doesn’t believe: he despises God for reasons only he could fully explain. I’m betting, though, that some of those reasons would sound familiar. He has asked to not be included on family bible verses, or spiritual messages, or things that are about faith, so I respect his wishes and don’t send them. Yet I pray for him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that he would be broken in heart and turn to the Lord to be remade.
A prayer to the Lord is a prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul invokes this phrase for emphasis, to stress to the Thessalonians – and us – that we are to keep away from people who are idle (not idol) in faith. People whose faith is weak need encouragement, and we should indeed encourage, pray for, and work in their lives to build that up. Yet we should be careful to not always hitch our faith-star to theirs for our own spiritual welfare. A therapist friend says there are people we should help and people we should simply pray for. That’s good advice.
Yet we are to temper this judiciousness with the boldness of the Lord Jesus Christ to be in the world but not of it. We are to run to the fire when someone’s spiritual fire is dying out. We are to live our lives in the fruits of Jesus’ Spirit not to earn our salvation but to reflect His. There are some people we need to help beyond just prayer. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s our mission as well.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 5:4, Romans 16:17, 2 Thessalonians 3:7.
Lord Jesus, help me to know who to pray for and who, in Your Name, to help.