You know, we may joke around about laziness, but today on Truth for Life weekend we'll find out why it's actually a huge problem, something that needs to be resisted in every aspect of our lives—at work, at home, in our relationships. Alistair Begg is teaching today from the book of Proverbs. Chapter 24, verse 30 and following, let's view his vineyard. I went past the field of the sluggard, verse 30, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment.
Thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. So his approach to life has paid its dividends. We go past this house, we say either there is no one living in that house or the person is unwell within it or has been removed on account of illness, or the person within it is frankly lazy.
Any one of those deductions would be valid. Samuel Johnson has an immense quote on laziness. I'll give it to you. It's not an easy quote, but you're a very intelligent group.
You'll get this without difficulty. He says, Indolence is one of the vices from which those whom it once infects are seldom reformed. Every other species of luxury operates upon some appetite that is quickly satisfied and requires some concurrence of art or accident which every place will not supply. In other words, if we have a craving for eating tubs of peaches, once you get a tub of peaches, you eat fourteen of them, it pretty well is satisfied.
And furthermore, if you have a craving for peaches and you're somewhere where there are no peaches, then you're going to have to be involved in some skillful art or in creating some context so that you can satisfy that desire. That's true in most of these things. But laziness doesn't need that. You can be lazy anywhere, anytime, without any help at all. Because laziness is nothingness. Laziness is defaulting to sleep and to just abject confusion.
He goes on. But the desire of ease acts equally at all hours. And the longer it is indulged, it is the more increased. To do nothing is in every man's power. We can never want an opportunity of omitting duties. The lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible, because it is only a mere cessation of activity.
But the return to diligence is difficult, because it implies a change from rest to motion, from privation to reality. Everybody who has ever engaged in an exercise program knows this is the case. It takes no difficulty at all when the time comes around—whether it's an alarm ringing or whether it's somebody coming and calling on us—to say, Okay, I think I'll just stay here. It doesn't matter where here is.
You can be in your house, you can be on the road, you can be in a hotel. Okay, I think I'll just stay here. And the more that we develop patterns of, Okay, I don't think I'll do this. Oh, I don't think I'll apply myself.
Oh, I think I'll get round to it later. Whatever else it is, we begin to establish a track for ourselves. On the day we determine to change, what a mountain we climb. We were running whatever it was. We were able to talk as we ran. We were able to increase our speed or decrease our speed. We could, within the limits of our own exercise program, do well. And then we said, Okay, I don't think so. No, I don't think so.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. And now, suddenly we decided we'll go again. We thought we'd start where we were. We didn't start where we were.
We'd only gone 150 yards, and we were walking. We couldn't talk to our wives, because we were completely exhausted and out of breath. Our neighbor up the street wants to know why we're not speaking.
Because we can't speak. And here's the thing. The real issue about this, and the real tragedy of the man's house, is that laziness is not an infirmity. Laziness is a sin. God made us to work. Indeed, six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord. And the contemporary quest for leisure feeds on indolence, feeds on a mentality which says, Nobody's gonna tell me what to do or when to work.
I will just order my own program. And my desire in life is to reduce this six to as small a number as I can. And I'm certainly not interested in this one day of worship and rest and study and so on. All I want to do—all I want to do is have some fun. Sorry, that's Cheryl Crow. That just came out from nowhere. Sorry.
On the Santa Monica Boulevard. That's all I want to do. And I'll do it when I want, and I'll do it with who I want, and don't anybody talk to me about anything. The Christian is supposed to be radically different from that. The problem for the individual is that he is so stuck in his mentality that he's unprepared to learn lessons even from nature. He's not prepared to go and look at the ants.
Chapter 6, you can find it for homework. Consider the ants, says Solomon, be wise. He doesn't have an overseer, he doesn't have a manager, and still he is industrious. He knows what time it is, and he takes care of it.
But to the sluggard, all time is the same. There's no need to get too active. Just take things easy. Rest for a while. As a boy growing up in Scotland, Mars bars were definitely my favorite.
They're still high on the list. And the line as a child growing up was, A Mars a day helps you work, rest, and play. But for the sluggard, a Mars a day helps you rest. So I'll look at him as he lies hinged to his bed, surrounded by Mars bar wrappings.
Hey, get me another Mars bar, would you? It's in my hip pocket. Get it out for me.
Laziness is a sin. It affects the whole of our manhood and womanhood. It has an unperceived power.
It needs to be rooted out. As parents, we have a great responsibility in this. And in a totally leisure-consumed society, the challenge for us is to breed children that are known for the quality of their work, for the consistency of their attendance, for the honesty of their endeavor, for the extra mile given in the place of their employment. These simple things will increasingly be the marks of the godly as our world gives up on the standards of God's Word. Finally, let's say a word or two by way of application. His characteristics are clear. His house is a shambles. It's all overgrown.
What is the application to us? Well, first of all, we need to recognize, as I say, that laziness is not something to be joked about, ultimately. It is a comic picture, but it's ultimately tragic. It's something that God wants to deal with in our lives in order that we might be our best. Some of us this morning would say that we know Christ and we follow after him, and therefore, it is legitimate for us to ask if there is any sense in which laziness is intruding into our walk with Christ. How am I doing in the things of God? How am I doing in my personal devotional life? What happens in my reading of the Bible, my own personal prayer? What about my commitment to the people of God, not forsaking the assembling of myself together?
What about my commitment to the law of God, given not in order to make me acceptable to God—for Christ does that—but given in order that it might frame my life, and in order that I might obey it, and in order that I might fulfill with diligence the demands that it lays upon me as the Spirit enables me? How am I doing? How are you doing? Has laziness crept into your soul? Are you as devoted as you were a year ago, two years ago, five years ago? Is your zeal burning bright?
Is the lamp lit in your home and in your heart? Do those who know as best say, There's someone who's going on. He's listening to Romans 12, 11, Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord. I can see that he's doing that.
The wife says, I know my husband is doing that. He doesn't talk a lot about it. He's not trying to make a fuss about it. But he is diligent in the things of faith. He is committed to following Christ. He is not a lazy man. You remember in James Taylor's song, he describes that guy. He says, He's a lazy gent. He don't pay no rent. He bend out of shape from living in a tent.
Some kind of funny-looking money machine this is. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but we've got promises to keep miles to go before we sleep. There's no time for lying down, folks.
It's daytime. It's work time. The night is coming when no one can work, but the darkness is dark, and the light is light, and we are the children of the light. We let our light so shine that men might see our deeds and glorify our Father who is in heaven. And that takes absolute dependence upon the power of the Spirit and absolute commitment to the tasks at hand. And what about our relationships within our homes? What about our commitment to our marriages? What about diligence in relationship to that?
Has laziness crept in? If people came and examined our marriages, do they see the flowers in place? Do they see that it is weeded, that it is cared for?
Or do they see the walls broken down? Do they drive by and say, There's nobody lives in that marriage? Those are just married singles. Those people exist in the same house, but they have no communion, they have no celebration, they have no meaningful fellowship. My dear friends, let me tell you, I am forced to conclude that if I take the evidence as presented to me, there are very few really fantastic marriages.
And a significant part of the reason is because men quit on the job. Well, if she does this and she… Forget that! You love your wife the way Christ loved the church. You take care of business.
You get at it. I just read a book that was chiding anybody for saying what I'm now saying to you. I won't tell you the book, because I don't want you to buy it. But the whole thesis of the book is, men don't need to be told to be good anymore. What men need is an adventure. Therefore, beware of the pastors who tell the men, Come on now, be good. Listen to the pastors who say, Have an adventure. Let me tell you, the best adventure you and I will ever have is found along the pathway of goodness, is found along the path of duty.
Get to the thorns and get to the thistles and get them out, God helping you. And in the work of the Lord, when I'm asked to take part, do I take part? Or do I just put things off bit by bit?
If you could call me a week on Friday, I'll be back then, and the really inside were saying, I hope you never call me again in my life. I don't want to hear about this. Or are we the kind of people who are devoted? Let's not allow slackness, says Paul, to spoil our work. Let's keep the fire of the Spirit burning as we do our work for the Lord. Let's not become masters of the unfinished. And to the extent that we have become masters of the unfinished, that we're tending over a journey with Christ and a journey with those nearest and dearest to us, that has broken down walls and thorns and thistles, and it is a royal shambles, we need, frankly, only one place to go, to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Say, Lord Jesus Christ, look at me. I never planned to be here. I never thought that I would get here.
I didn't make a decision to become like this. Somehow or another, it has crept up on me like scarcity. It has seized me by the throat like a bandit. I see now that by small, incremental declensions I have grown so far from the vibrant, diligent, committed, lover of Christ, and lover of my wife, and lover of my children, and carer for my people, and gentle to my employees.
I find this very challenging, because as Wiseman says, the sluggard is no freak. Just an ordinary man—I'm just an ordinary man, sorry, that's my fair lady—just an ordinary man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals, too many postponements. You get it?
Too many refusals, too many excuses, too many postponements. And it has all been as imperceptible and pleasant as falling asleep. It's easy.
It's easy. Finally, there is something here this morning, and frankly, you find this resentable. You are the master of ticking everything off.
You have little lists for your lists, you have checks, you have circles, triangles, squares, and icky-dicky do directly related to everything that you do. Your children know that you're on it, your wife knows that you're on it, your business personnel know that you're on it, and frankly, the reason that you're here is because you're on the spiritual thing. If you were a little more on it, you'd be here at nine o'clock, but you're on it, not bad. If you were really on it, you'd be here at six thirty, but you must deal with that yourself.
But the fact of the matter is, you say, You know, I don't really need to talk like this. I mean, anyone in the community knows that I'm a committed guy. Look at my shoes. I actually shined the heels of my shoes.
No girl should marry a man who does not shine the heels of his shoes. I am present when people ask me. I'm usually a little ahead of the curve, and frankly, I'm a good guy. Thank you for the talk on laziness. Very interesting.
I'm never going to need it. Hold your fire. I want, finally, in the dying moment, to ask you this question, Mr. Businessman. Are you applying the same level of diligence to the discovery of who Jesus is and why he came and what it means to know him as you are to the pursuit of excellence which is valued and esteemed and rightly so and is commendable within your home and community?
Are you? Playing golf this week in western Michigan, standing on the tee, the three people around me began to talk about security. And I couldn't address the ball because of the conversation. I couldn't address the ball for a number of reasons, but mainly the conversation was my excuse. So I stepped away from it and engaged in the conversation. And the gentleman said, you know, the Dow is down.
It was the day it came down 500 points or whatever it was, and I moved it into such and such, and I moved it here, and I moved it there. And somebody came up with a definitive statement on security. After all, he said, security is da-da-da-da, whatever it was.
I've forgotten what it was. But it was bogus. And I said to him, I said, sir, you know, there are no pockets in a shroud. I've done funerals now for twenty-seven years.
I never saw anybody load a coffin up with cash. Surely security has to do with dealing with the terminus. Surely security has to do with dealing with the one appointment that you must keep, the one appointment that cannot be avoided.
It is appointed unto man wants to die, and after this comes judgment. Put it in your diary, Mr. Businessman. You are definitely going there. Now, let me ask you, have you applied the same level of diligence to the preparation for that appointment as you have applied in your life to securing your family's future, etc.?
And if not, why wouldn't you? You're a sensible man. Well, I'll get around to it, I suppose. I will finally get there.
I'm not sure that I'm going to do it today or anytime soon, but I do have it in my portfolio somewhere. Well, be very careful, because the one thing about the sluggard is that he's never on time. His favorite day is always tomorrow. He tells himself there's always going to be a later opportunity. Give me a little longer. Don't press me now. Well, said the hymn writer, life at best is very brief.
It's like the falling of a leaf. What would it profit a man if he was the most diligent man in the business? And his diligence was such that he gained the whole world.
And his laziness in spiritual things was such that he lost his own soul. And finally, a word to the children. Thank you for listening to me.
I see you out there. You're going, is he stopping? Yes, I'm done. I was done about five minutes ago, but now I'm stopping.
Especially to teenagers. You need to deal with this, first on the spiritual level. You've got to settle this issue with God. No matter who your mom and your dad is, no matter what they've been to you, what they've done for you, how they've nurtured you and cared for you, there has to come a day in your journey where you say, Lord Jesus Christ, I am lazy about these things. I can get up at 4 a.m. to play ball. I can caddy my brains out, provided the tips are good. I can stay up with my girlfriend to 2 a.m. I can play PlayStation till my fingers don't work anymore. I can watch movies till 1.30 in the morning. I can go to movies at 11 o'clock at night.
I can go to Denny's at 4 in the morning and eat their interesting food. But somehow or another, I can't get this issue sorted out with you. It's not can't-ness. It's won't.
Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation. Do not ever put off to tomorrow, especially a kindness that you can do today, and do not put off to tomorrow. The claims of the Lord Jesus recalls you to zealous, dependent, Christian living. It's easy for any of us to drift into laziness, and it's difficult to overcome once we've indulged in it. You're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life Weekend.
Alistair will be back in just a minute. As we've been finding out, laziness can impact us spiritually. That's why every day on Truth for Life we open God's Word, and why you'll often hear Alistair encourage you to open your Bible and think it through for yourself. In addition to joining us each day for this program, we recommend you spend personal time in God's Word, and we have an easy-to-use daily Bible reading calendar that'll guide you through four passages of Scripture every day so that in a year's time you will have read through the entire Bible. You don't have to wait until a new year to start it.
You can begin this right away. The Bible reading calendar is available for a free download. Just go to truthforlife.org slash plan. And by the way, if you download the Truth for Life app, you can also receive access to the entire ESV Bible to use during your study. It's a convenient way to have the Bible at your fingertips no matter where you are. And we have a terrific little book that'll help jumpstart your devotional time. The book is called Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation. This is a 31-day devotional with reflection questions at the end of each day's reading, so you'll spend a month increasing your confidence in God's love, his promises, and his care. This is the last weekend we're talking about this book, Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation.
You can find out more as you visit our website truthforlife.org. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, I thank you that the Bible is a lamp for our feet, it's a light for our path, it shines out for us. Our neighbors often say, Why do you study that book? It's an ancient old book. It really has nothing much to say. They don't understand.
We'd love to tell them just how immensely practical it is. Forgive us, Lord, our indolence. We're all potentially lazy—lazy about our work, lazy with our relationships, lazy with our consideration of Christian things and our following after you. But don't let this message, Lord, land on anybody's head like an anvil, as if somehow or another the Word was, Now pull up your socks and do your best. My very laziness shows me that I must rest in Christ. I could never get enough endeavor going to work my way to heaven. This just shows me another fact, that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.
I go to Christ, and I take my rest in him, and finding my rest in him, I endeavor that by his enabling I will work because of his love for me. Hear then our prayers, and let our cries come unto you. Be with us in this day. May your grace and mercy and peace be our portion, for we pray in Jesus' name. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening this weekend. Next weekend, we'll take a look at the green-eyed monster. We'll see what the book of Proverbs has to say about the destructive consequences of jealousy. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-29 04:31:45 / 2023-04-29 04:40:45 / 9