Busy Sloth

Finally, the notion of sloth does not merely apply to idleness but also to busyness.

Before discussing busyness, we should note that idleness is a sinful counterfeit of God-glorifying rest.

Rest is worship; idleness is not.

Rest is found in coming to Christ; idleness is found in self-gratifying pursuits.

The same is also true of work and busyness.

Busyness is a sinful counterfeit of God-glorifying work.

Work is worship; busyness is not.

Work is accomplished only when we are working from the knowledge that Jesus worked perfectly in our place.

Busyness is legalism in action.

Busyness is sinful because it is a denial of God’s sovereignty. It is the act of living as if God is not in control and so we must attempt to take life by its reins.

Busyness is a rejection of God, while work is a glorifying act of worship. This means that work and rest are innately bound together, as are busyness and idleness.

Work and rest, as acts of worship, create a cycle of joy and renewal. Busyness and idleness, however, form a cycle of cynicism and decay. And it very much is a cycle.

We busy ourselves in order to prove our worth and value, only to collapse into idleness when we reach the end of our strength and will. We attempt to do everything, only to accomplish nothing. We fill each slot of our calendar in search of desperate productivity, only to waste our lives.

Once again, the problem is worship.

Busyness and idleness do not seek first God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33); therefore, they are frivolous and trivial actions. They are a striving after the wind, a vanity of vanities. They never rise above this terrestrial plane.

The man of God, however, worships the LORD by submitting even menial tasks to God’s glory and kingdom, and he truly rests by coming to God for relief from the weariness of life. Thus, both his work and his rest are done to the glory of God. They are worshipful, and they are given the value of being holy and set apart for the LORD.

Tony Reinke speaks about this busy laziness as an epidemic of our society:

The slothful zombie may live a very busy life, but he does just enough to get things done, so he can get back to enjoying his comforts. Duties are what he performs, but comfort is what he craves. The zombie lives his routine in a fog, sleepwalking between weekends. Frederick Buechner writes this of the zombie: “Sloth is not to be confused with laziness. A slothful man may be a very busy man. He is a man who goes through the motions, who flies on automatic pilot. Like a man with a bad head cold, he has mostly lost his sense of taste and smell . . . people come and go, but through glazed eyes he hardly notices them. He is letting things run their course. He is getting through his life.” Richard John Neuhaus defines contemporary sloth as “evenings without number obliterated by television, evenings neither of entertainment nor of education, but a narcotic defense against time and duty.” This is sloth at its deadly best: trying to preserve personal comforts through the candy of endless amusements. Sloth is a chronic quest for worldly comfort that compounds boredom — boredom with God, boredom with people, boredom with life. The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort. It is epidemic in our day.

Reinke goes on to call sloth “a craving for personal comfort at all costs.”

It is this self-centeredness that kills.

The Sluggard cannot worship God, even when he is busy because he is too focused upon himself.

The call to the slothful, therefore, is not to work harder; rather, the Sluggard must submit both his work and rest to God.

 

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Spiritual Sloth

Slothfulness, though, is not merely physical or intellectual. We can also be lazy and idle spiritually.

Spiritual sloth means being slothful to the things of God. Primarily, we see this in our reading of Scripture and prayer, which we tend to devote little (if any) time toward. While we may say that nothing is more important or necessary than hearing from and speaking to God, yet Scripture and prayer tend to be low on our list of priorities.

Douglas Wilson discusses the importance of recognizing our spiritual sloth in his book, The Seven Deadlies:

The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason” (Prov. 26:16). The condition of the contemporary church is exactly this—the result of spiritual sloth. We are wise in our own conceits. Like the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14–22), we think we can see, but we are blind. We think we are rich, but we are poor with regard to the things of God. We are impoverished and the worst thing is that we don’t know we are impoverished. We don’t have an understanding that this is our condition. Part of the reason is pressure from the unbelieving culture that is around us and our failure to withstand the pressure. In times of cultural deterioration, pressure is always applied to invert the moral order. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” The world has always had lazy people, but historically they were always recognized as such. We live in a time when this sluggard-mentality is treated as something that should be praised. In 1950, the average fourteen-year-old kid had a vocabulary of 25,000 words. Today, the average kid has a vocabulary of 10,000 words, four of which appear to be cable, X-Box, Netflix, and dude. But how is this up and coming generation of the ignorati described to us in our public discourse?—street-smart, savvy, irreverent, and refreshing. Industry and diligence are mocked, and the baseball hat on backwards is the mark of a sage. We praise the lazy and exalt the sluggard. We do this even though we know that God mocks the ungodly, the lazy and those who refuse to work for what they desire. This means laziness is a sign of contempt for God.

Spiritual sloth is often found in our inability to wake up in the morning, which is fitting because Solomon directly ties the refusal to rise from bed to the sin of sloth (Proverbs 6:9).

Greg Morse wrote a wonderful article on desiringgod.org called The Great Wall of Cotton: Why We Hit Snooze on God about this very issue. The entire thing is worth reading, but I will cite a portion here to capture his main idea.

We slept in because we had forgotten who bids us to rise. The God we snoozed was puny, uninteresting, unworthy — not the God of the Bible. The God we snoozed seemed so distant, so unaware, so cold. So, we rolled over in our warm beds and resumed sleeping. But the God who summons his people from their slumber is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is worthy of our wakefulness. We rise when friends call. Scramble to attention if our boss rings. And yet, far too often we roll over when our Best Friend, our only Savior, our truest Love knocks on our doors each morning. We provoke our jealous Husband with the scraps of our day, throwing him our spare devotion as stale breadcrumbs are thrown at pigeons in the park. He is God. He deserves our firstfruits, not our microwaved leftovers.  He can ask, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’ and not rise when I bid you? Why do you call me ‘Teacher’ and not sit daily at my feet? Why do you call me ‘Husband’ and not seek my tender embrace?” The burning ones of heaven cannot look at him — none yawn or fall asleep in his presence. The God we draw near to is the God of Revelation 5. As the Lamb ascends his throne, all of heaven screams, “Worthy!” (Revelation 5:9, 12). This scene is not one for sleeping infants or adults. What must this heavenly host think when they peer over the edge of heaven and see us lie in bed, as if dead, before him? This is not the holy deadness that resulted from John meeting with the exalted Christ whose chest shone with a golden sash, eyes burned like flames of fire, and whose voice thundered like the flood of many waters (Revelation 1:12–17). No, they see the deadness of Eutychus who, when Paul preached into the night, sank into a deep sleep, fell from his windowsill, and plummeted to his death (Acts 20:9).  How shocking it must be for heaven to be lost in fierce worship of God, and then to see many of us — his blood-bought people — daily meet him with a tap of a button and a rolling over.

Just as physical sloth tends to create poverty, so spiritual sloth causes spiritual poverty.

Do you give you make time for God?

Do you give the best of yourself and your efforts to God, or as Morse said, do you give Him your microwaved leftovers?

Sept. 23, 2016

Repentance: Running to the Greatest of All Treasures

This fits pretty well with the theme of my most recent post.

The proper response to the gospel is to repent (Acts 2:38). The question is, have you repented? If you haven’t repented in such a way that you’ve turned to Jesus by faith, your so-called repentance is deficient and damning.

What Does TV Say About Sex?

This is a much needed call for us to be mindful of what media is teaching us.

In ten minutes, I heard at least three lies: 

  1. Heterosexual sex outside of marriage is commendable and good.
  2. Homosexual relationships are commendable and good.
  3. It’s fun and exciting to invite someone you don’t know to come on to you sexually.

Save Your Soul: Stop Writing

As writers, we often hand over our souls and stories for the price of approval, advances, page-views, speaking opportunities, and more book deals. But sometimes (not always) the best thing to do is to be silent. To listen. To hear.

15 Reasons Why Visitation Is Vital for Your Pastor

Here Andrew Roycroft writes a response to Thom Rainer’s post on why pastor’s should not visit much. I really appreciate the thoughts of both Roycroft and Rainer, and together the two articles provide a nice balance for pastoral and congregational visitation.

Pushing Kids Into Transgenderism Is Medical Malpractice

The problem with taking the steps to transition physically—cross-gender hormones and surgeries—is that physical changes are likely permanent, but the feelings driving the desire may change, especially for young people.

 

 

Sept. 16, 2016

Below are a few Internet articles that I found quite beneficial to read.

What’s Wrong with Western Missionaries?

If I were to start my missionary life over, I would bury my pride and unpack some humility. I would become a brother, a friend, and a peer. I would care more about the names of my brothers and sisters on the “mission field” and less about the numbers of baptisms, people discipled, churches planted, and orphanages built.

They Unchurched the Church

A great thought on the failure of seeker-friendly churches.

It breaks my heart to consider this perspective. I think of an unbeliever going to church, a Christian church, and walking away disappointed because it lacked a seriousness, weightiness, and gospel content. It was so practical that it was irrelevant. What in the world are we doing? 

I’m kinda sick of church

Don’t be the traditional church. Don’t be the liberal church. Don’t be the political church. Don’t be the hipster church. Don’t be the young church. Don’t be the old church. Don’t be the contmeporary church. 

Just be the Church.

The Law of Christ | Charles Leiter

I’m reading through Leiter’s book right now (so hopefully a You Should Read post will follow). This three-part teaching explores some of the main ideas of his book.

God’s Will for the Average Layman

Not everyone who gets saved should feel like they need to quit their job and become a pastor in order to work in the ministry. The office of pastor and elder is not for everyone. I pray I have made it easy to see that as long as we are following God’s commands in scripture, working diligently to live righteously and holy by obedience to His law, and spreading the gospel and making disciples, then we are doing the will of God. 

 

 

Sept. 9, 2016

Below are a few Internet articles that I found quite beneficial to read.

Treat Yourself to the Voice of God

The world, the flesh, and the devil himself muster their collective energies to deceive us into orienting on God’s word as some mere duty, rather than receiving it as the delight it is. We’re prone to take one of the single greatest gifts available to us and treat it as a life-sucking obligation rather than a life-giving opportunity.

Simple Ways to Spark a Lukewarm Devotional Life

Don’t allow your lack of interest to keep you from doing what you know is so good for your soul. Read and pray and trust that the warm desire will return.

22 Years Ago, The Clintons Pulled A Colin Kaepernick On Mother Teresa

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want,” she said. “This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

How to Make the Bible Support Any Sexual Practice in 3 Easy Steps

A wonderfully sarcastic read that dives into the mechanics of how people twist Scripture to make it support their cause.

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online

Is what you’re about to communicate going to help or hinder those you’re evangelizing? Is it likely to diminish the significance (to them) of your commitment to the gospel, or enhance it?

beauty

Real and vulnerable.

Bring Back the Church Prayer Meeting

Amen!

Aug 21-27, 2016

Here is a roundup of online articles that I found helpful this week.

As for Me and My Household…

I stumbled upon these guys at Reformed Outlook (and their podcast), and I’m glad I did. This article discusses the difficulties and joys of shepherding your children. Since my wife and I desire (but currently don’t have) children, it was a particular blessing to read.

Pastoral Ministry Does Not Have to Be Sedentary 

Considering last week I wrote a post about my confession of gluttony, this article certainly affirms much of my thinking. Especially as leaders of the church, pastors are called to be self-controlled and disciplined, which includes our bodies.

Batman, Realism and a couple of Fight Club references

Begin with a discourse on the Dark Knight films, and end with a declaration that God cannot fit inside the mental boxes we create… How could that not be worth a few minutes to read?

Does Your Pastor Love You?

“How can you tell how much a pastor loves Christ and his people? It is by his preaching. Doctrinal preaching feeds and protects the sheep.”

A.P.T.A.T.: Practical Steps to Walk by Faith

This is actually a couple of weeks old, but I just watched the video this week.

Ecclesiastes

The guys at The Bible Project consistently crank out outstanding content, but due to my love for Ecclesiastes, this one just swept me away. But don’t forget to watch their Proverbs video first, if you haven’t already.

A Prayerful Longing for God (Psalm 84)

Psalms Study Guide (Week 5)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:2)

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.  (Psalm 84:10)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

OPENING THOUGHT

We have already seen that worship encompasses virtually every aspect of our lives, and even all of creation calls us to worship our God, the Creator. Last week, we saw a key component for true worship: repentance. Through the prayerful repentance of David, we saw how the follower of Christ ought to be broken by sin and how we should to pray in response to our sins.

Just as the psalms themselves frequently shift moods, we turn now to a significantly brighter psalm. Written, likely, by the Sons of Korah, this psalm is entirely about desiring to be with the LORD. Their poetic longings flow through each line as they declare their love for the courts and dwelling place of God. There is such a degree of exuberance to their words that we might even say that they are desperate to be in the presence of the LORD.

Interestingly, the center of their focus though is upon the temple of the LORD, the designated house of worship for Israel. Within the temple, worship was primarily made through animal sacrifices to God. There likely should a level of shock to us in thinking about how the psalmist speaks so longingly about a place of ritual sacrifices; however, painted within this psalm is a picture of the sacrifices that the LORD desires. He wants us to come before Him in joy and delight, longing to be with our Father. Do we likewise desire to be in worship of God?

Read verses 1-4 and discuss the following.

  1. The psalmist opens this hymn by pronouncing his overwhelming desire for being in the temple (aka the LORD’s dwelling place). For what reason did the psalmist so strongly desire to be in the temple?
  2. After expressing his opening desire for being within the courts of the LORD, the psalmist exuberantly declares the blessings of dwelling within the house of God, singing forever His praises. How is this similar to our anticipation of heaven’s joys? Why will we never grow weary of praising the LORD?

Read verses 5-9 and discuss the following.

  1. The description within these verses of a worshiper traveling toward the temple led to this psalm being sung frequently by Israelites making pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Here the psalmist is determined to complete his journey, resolving to be as unstoppable as possible. Do you have a similar determination to meet with God in prayer, through reading the Scriptures, and in corporate worship with other believers?

Read verses 10-12 and discuss the following.

  1. The psalmist claims that he would rather be a doorkeeper within God’s house for a day than spend one thousand days anywhere else. Is this similar to how you value God?
  2. We find in verse 11 a very strong statement that God will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Does this mean that we can claim material blessings as some prosperity teachers might interpret this verse? How do we reconcile this verse with the fact that good things do appear to be withheld from us at times?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the psalmist’s longing for the LORD. Resolve to fast as the LORD leads you (for example: one meal, one day, or one week), praying for a greater hunger and thirst for the God.
  • Pray for a greater joy and delight in God.