Monday, October 26, 2015

Walk of Repentance: Laziness

I'm doing a series of Bible studies on specific sin or issues and focusing on turning away from those things as the Lord and the Scripture commands. These posts will mostly be short, simple, and full of Scripture. The idea is to meditate on the verses and apply them through turning from sin and turning to God.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Lazy people should be and must be warned about their lives, their lifestyles, and their character. We are commanded to address laziness in the church. We are commanded to address laziness in our lives.

6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. 10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

14 Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. 15 Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

17 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. I DO THIS IN ALL MY LETTERS TO PROVE THEY ARE FROM ME.

18 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

Paul commands believers to stay away from, shun, or avoid all believers who live idle or lazy lives. People who do not work should not eat, or should not survive. Paul refers to his own example, which we are to follow. He worked hard day and night with the specific purpose of providing for himself and his team. He refused to live off of donations or handouts. It would not have been sin for him to live off of the other believers. He had the right to live as a fully funded minister of the gospel. He refused that right because the example of hard work was so important to him. Paul repeats himself, stating that this is a regular part of his teaching. We are commanded to work and work hard.

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:11

Another command from the New Testament prohibits laziness and commands us to both work hard and serve the Lord with enthusiasm or joy. Those who do not have work to do, should serve the Lord with the time and energy that they have.

Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. Ezekiel 16:49

Sodom is known for sodomy. The gross immorality of homosexual gang rape present in Sodom made their name famous. God's judgment on their city also makes Sodom stand out. They were destroyed for their sin. Yet Ezekiel does not mention their violent sexual immorality. Instead he emphasizes the attributes present in their hearts and lifestyle: pride, gluttony, and laziness at the expense of the poor. Laziness is one of the qualities and one of the sins that opens the door for even more gross immorality in our lives. Sodom's evil behavior was in part because of their laziness. We must address laziness in our lives or more obvious sins will follow.

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road!
    Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!”
14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges,
    so the lazy person turns over in bed.
15 Lazy people take food in their hand
    but don’t even lift it to their mouth.
16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter
    than seven wise counselors.
Proverbs 26:13-16

Proverbs contains a number of passages describing the downfall or destruction of the lazy. In this passage laziness is connected to pride. The lazy are arrogant. They believe that they can live without working as hard as others because they are smarter than others.

I walked by the field of a lazy person,
    the vineyard of one with no common sense.
31 I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
    It was covered with weeds,
    and its walls were broken down.
32 Then, as I looked and thought about it,
    I learned this lesson:
33 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
    scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
Proverbs 24:30-34

Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.
Proverbs 21:25

It doesn't matter if you want to work hard, want to prosper, want to succeed, want to be a blessing, want to please God, if you don't work, if you don't DO, you will come to ruin despite your desires.

Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.
Proverbs 20:4

It may not seem like you need to work hard now, but the future will reveal your lack of hard work and lack of faithfulness.

A lazy person is as bad as
    someone who destroys things.
Proverbs 18:8-10

Laziness is destructive to your life, community, and society.

A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,
    but the path of the upright is an open highway.
Proverbs 15:19

Lazy people want much but get little,
    but those who work hard will prosper.
Proverbs 13:4

Work hard and become a leader;
    be lazy and become a slave.
Proverbs 12:24

Laziness leads to slavery in our lives. Economic slavery, physical slavery (to health issues), and spiritual slavery. Laziness is a sin. Those who work hard will be successful examples. They will be leaders. Those who are lazy will be slaves in this life.

Father, I ask that these warnings against laziness would penetrate my heart. I can think of many times when I have not worked hard. I sleep so much and am distracted by so many things. I confess my laziness to you, Lord. I want to be free. I want to be free from laziness. I want to be a hard worker for you and please you. Father, I turn from laziness. I repent. I leave that lax and idle behavior behind and I turn towards You and towards Your service. I want to be like Paul. I want to be like Jesus. I want to work day and night to serve You and Your body. I want to put others first. I don't want to sleep too much. I don't want to procrastinate. I don't want to waste time with leisure and entertainment. I want to spend my life and energy on things with meaning. Lead me and guide me into right work and hard work for Your glory. I turn from this sin and I turn to you and partake of Your nature. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Walk of Repentance: Complaining

I'm going to be doing a series of Bible studies on specific sin or issues and focusing on turning away from those things as the Lord and the Scripture commands. These posts will mostly be short, simple, and full of Scripture. The idea is to meditate on the verses and apply them through turning from Sin and turning to God.

Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.
Numbers 11:1

In the Old Testament complaining brought anger and judgment from the Lord. This judgment was severe, resulting in death. In context, the Israelites were indeed going through challenges that were much harder than most of our lives. They struggled to believe God for protection and provision: things we often take for granted. In the end, their circumstances did not harm their lives; their complaining destroyed their lives.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. 2 Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. 3 “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”
Numbers 14:1-4

There is much more to this story, which continues in the passage below. The Israelites refuse to enter the promised land. Complaining spreads through the whole community with fear and protest against their leaders. Complaining is linked to both unbelief, fear, and ungratefulness. It results in rebellion.

Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. 29 You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. 30 You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
Numbers 14:28-30

Again, complaining results in God's judgment. An entire generation refuses God's blessing, and is barred from entering the promised land because of their unbelief and complaining.

13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Philippians 2:13-15

In the New Testament we are commanded to do everything without complaining or arguing. Clearly we will have to do things that we don't want to do. We are to do them without complaining or arguing. Then we will not be able to be criticized or blamed.

15 to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
16 These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted.
Jude 15-17

Jude brings a scathing rebuke and description of false teachers and false brothers. He says they are characterized by grumbling and complaining. They want to do what they want to do. They want to have their way. They want to satisfy themselves. Jude goes on to warn us of the last days and the final judgment.

The people refused to enter the pleasant land,
    for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.
25 Instead, they grumbled in their tents
    and refused to obey the Lord.
26 Therefore, he solemnly swore
    that he would kill them in the wilderness,
Psalm 106:24-26

The generation who died in the wilderness stands as a testimony and warning of judgment for thousands of years. We are to look at their lives and deaths and determine in our hearts not to be unbelieving or ungrateful.

9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
1 Corinthians 10:9-11

These judements were written down to warn us. We are warned by the deaths of others, not to complain or grumble. That is a serious warning.

8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
James 5:8-10

James again warns us against grumbling against each other. Complaining not only about circumstances, but about people. This brings judgment on our lives. James's words are meant to bring the fear of the Lord. If we do not repent of complaining and grumbling about others, we will be judged. We must be patient with one another.

Father, your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. You warn me against complaining and grumbling. These things do not please you. You provide for me and protect me in every circumstance. You are trustworthy and faithful. To complain is to claim that you are not. I repent of complaining, Lord. I turn away from this sin. I confess that I have complained about my circumstances in the past. I want to be cleansed from this sin. I don't want it to persist in my life. I confess that I have complained and grumbled about others. Master, I do not want to do that any more. I know that these things must be corrected in my life. Help me, Jesus. I repent of them today. Lord, I believe you, and I do not doubt your love and care for me. I want to please you. I thank you that You love me so much You sent Jesus to die on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins and so that I would be redeemed and rescued from every sin. I thank you for freedom and new birth in Christ, and that now I live accepted in Him. I turn from complaining and grumbling to You Lord. I am grateful and thankful to You. I love you. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus name, Amen.