GOVERNED BY THE SCRIPTURES
2 Thessalonians 3:6-14 (KJV), “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
The winter of 1623 had been a difficult one in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Food had been in such short supply that the Pilgrims had been reduced to a daily ration of five kernels of corn apiece. Only by the grace of Almighty God had the colonists made it to spring. Yet the coming winter of 1624 looked even worse. With the additional settlers who had come, Plymouth would need at least twice the harvest.
The new settlers were not hard workers like the Pilgrims. In fact, many had come to the colony fresh from the debtors’ prisons of England. Most of the time, the newcomers sat and grumbled – they wanted more privileges, more food and less work. Their complaining was taking its toll on the morale of the entire colony, so much so that even the hard working Pilgrims seemed less energetic.
One morning, Plymouth’s new governor William Bradford, was reading his Bible. He was concerned that with the newcomers doing little more than lying around and eating up the meager reserves, the whole group could easily starve in the harsh New England winter. That morning as he read his Bible Bradford found the solution.
Walking outside, he shouted for the Pilgrims and the newcomers to meet him at the meeting hall. Once the crowd assembled, Governor Bradford read his verse: “…if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10b. This verse became the basis of a new policy for Plymouth colony.
At first the sluggards tested the Pilgrims, but after experiencing several days of hunger, even the laziest among them began to pull his own weight. The colonists worked even harder, the colony prospered and government according to the Scriptures was established as a principle.