Bible Question:

When a person has an addiction, lies, and keeps using the kindness of others, then they refuse to help themselves. Please, what does the Bible say, about how we should help that person? It hurts when I try to help; but no matter what I do, the situation seems more like I am enabling them than truly helping. 

Bible Answer:

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us,

“YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . Matthew 5:43-44 (NASB)

This principle of loving everyone, including our enemies, has permeated the world, even though some do not believe in Jesus Christ. Atheists and those who are against Christ believe in this principle since it has been taught for over two thousand years. But sadly, this principle has been distorted because other teachings in the New Testament have been ignored. The question we are considering is, “Should we help people who will not help themselves?” This brief study will give the answer as we look at another important principle found in the New Testament.

Should We Help Lazy?

Example of the Apostle Paul

In 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 the apostle Paul illustrates a principle that has been ignored and the principle of loving others has been overly emphasized. You will notice in this passage that Paul urges all Christians to follow his example. He makes the point that he and the other men with him did not act in an undisciplined manner.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NASB)

Then Paul helps us understand that when an individual eats another person’s food without paying for it, the person is undisciplined. The Greek word for “undisciplined” is ataktos. It can be translated as “unruly,” “idleness,” “disorderly,” “lazy” or “to do nothing.”  “To do nothing” is an excellent definition of the Greek word. There are many examples of “to do nothing” behavior. Someone who is perpetually on welfare and does not want to work is an easy example of a lack of discipline. Individuals who regularly seek help from others and rarely ever help themselves are also undisciplined. Other examples can be given, but the principle is that a “do nothing” person will rarely help themselves. They want others to help them and they have many excuses or reasons to just why someone should help them. They are lazy people. Proverbs 21:25-26 describes the “do nothing” individual.

The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back.
Proverbs 21:25-26 (NASB)

Proverbs 24:30-34 is another excellent example of the undisciplined individual.

How We Should Respond

The apostle Paul tells us how we should respond to undisciplined individuals in the next three verses.

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 (NASB)

How are we commanded to treat undisciplined individuals? The answer is we are not to help. In fact, Paul commands them to work or help themselves. Then Paul adds quickly that we should not grow weary of doing good. We are to be wise when we help others. We are not to be undisciplined in helping the undisciplined!


The message of Jesus and the apostle Paul is that we do not show love when we enable others to sin or not grow spiritually. Showing love is not just pleasing people. If by “helping” someone, we enable them to sin, then we are not showing love because we have encouraged them to sin and “do nothing.”

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