Did you know that work is a command from God? Work is a part of God’s will for us as we live our lives. The goal of life should never become avoiding work. To God work is noble, work is obedience to Him as our creator, and He designed work for us to be satisfying and fulfilling. Do you remember what He said? Six days you shall labor. God commands us to work and God says wise people want to work. Laziness is foolishness. Foolishness is sin. Satan is trying to attack every part of what God’s word has established in Genesis, and in Proverbs, and from cover to cover. God says work hard and don’t be lazy. God says in His word, work hard and don’t be lazy.
Now look in your Bible at Proverbs 12:11 and as I read this verse and then begin to apply it. I know that some of you, you’re thinking, can the book of Proverbs be that harsh about people that don’t want to work? Well, we’ll see in just a moment that when we get to the New Testament, it’s even stronger. Reinforced as God’s will.
Proverbs 12:11, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” Tilling land in a rocky Middle Eastern land of Israel as it is today and as it was in Bible times is hard work. God says hard work has a reward; you eat bread. But if you follow frivolity, look at the end of verse 11, you’re “devoid of understanding.”
So, when God says work hard and don’t be lazy, how serious is he? Go to the New Testament, 2 Thessalonians. So, we go through the New Testament books… Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, starting in verse 10. Paul said, “for even when we were with you, we commanded you this: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Now, that is stiff. The church was not to aid and assist and feed and provide for people who were unwilling to work. The church is a compassionate extension of Christ arms into the world. It’s His love, His smile, His touch, but when any believer is unwilling to work who is able to work, who is able body, who is not elderly, or sick, or infirm, or paralyzed, or in somehow incapacitated; God says don’t feed them. Don’t feed them until they obey the creation mandate.
Keep reading, verse 11 “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” God says work hard and don’t be lazy.
The next slide reminds us that we’re right in the middle of Exploring the Book of Proverbs. We’re right in the middle of learning to live life God’s way. Now, as I mentioned, part of learning to live life God’s way is understanding that the book of Proverbs is connected to the rest of the Bible. In the book of Genesis God introduces Himself as the Creator. In six, 24-hour days, He created the universe and placed man right in the center of that garden of Eden. Then He established the role of men and women, marriage, and family. Then after the fall, God said to man, six days shall thy labor, labor and rest the seventh. That’s the creation mandate of work.
Now, let’s go over here. The biggest choice we have in life is God’s way or man’s way. When we got saved, we want to be submissive to God’s word. God’s word says, if anyone will not work, he should not eat. So, living life God’s way means that we follow the narrow way of wisdom. We live for eternity and we do it, God says, as opposed to the world.
So, how do we cultivate God’s work ethic from His word? It’s almost like work has become a drudgery and something we shouldn’t want to do rather than what God designed it to be. The book of Proverbs shows us God’s design. God says that you can do my will if you simply fulfill what I created you to do. That is to obey your creation mandate to work and from the labor to enjoy the fruit of your labor, which is being able to eat. Remember working hard is first a mindset. It’s a choice we make in our mind. So is laziness by the way. We’re going to see the contrast between God’s desire for us to think properly about work and fallen man, lost and rebellious, man’s desire to rebel against that and to do everything possible, to not work either. We adopt God’s attitude and work or the foolish mindset of fallenness, of being a lost rebel in opposition to God, which is laziness.
In the next slide we’re going to begin looking at what God says about laziness. “Go to the ant,” Proverbs 6:6 the Lord says, “you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise up from sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler.”
Now look up from your Bible. What does that mean, poverty come like a prowler? That means unexpectedly. Did you know, people that don’t have biblical wisdom cannot understand how all of a sudden, they’re totally without anything. I used to minister at the rescue mission, and I talked to so many of those who were living at the rescue mission. whether it was the Lansing City Rescue Mission or the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, or the Gospel Mission in Tulsa, wherever the mission was, Providence Rescue Mission. Each time you talk to many of those people that were living at the mission, they’d say, I just don’t know how it happened. All of a sudden, one day I just was out on the street. I didn’t have a job. Didn’t have a car. Didn’t have a home. Lost my family. Do you know what God said? If you don’t follow His word, verse 11, your poverty will come on you like a prowler. Unexpectedly. “And your need.” Look at the last part of verse 11, “like an armed man.”
What is that? Inescapable, irresistible. You can’t stop an armed person when they point a gun at you. When they threaten you with bodily harm, you respond. Poverty comes unexpectedly and unstoppably when you resist God’s command. So, the first passage about sluggards totally shows God’s complete opposition to those who are rebellious against His command to work. If they’re a believer we’re not supposed to treat them differently. God says if they don’t work, they don’t eat. That’s tough love but it’s from God.
Let’s keep reading chapter 10, verse 5 of Proverbs.
It says, “He who gathers in the summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”
Chapter 15 verse 19 says this. “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns. But the way of the upright is a highway.” Do you catch the picture? Eastern Oriental language, Hebrew, is a picturesque language. So, all of these proverbs are to illustrate from the 3000 year ago agrarian lifestyle. Remember we talked about that? Israel was primarily an agricultural economy and the people were very accustomed to agricultural terms. And He said that the way of this lazy person is like a hedge of thorns. Have you ever been walking and gotten into prickers or thorns or something? When you walk through it’s a painful walk. That’s how life is for a lazy person.
Keep going to chapter 22 in verse 13, God continues to warn, and He says, “The lazy man says there’s a lion outside! I shall be slaying in the streets!” What is that? That’s called unfounded fears. Lazy people can find anything to stop them from doing what they’re supposed to do. In fact, earlier in chapter 21, look at verse 25, “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” It kills him because he has unbridled desires and unwillingness. He’s rebellious and doesn’t want to submit to what God says you have to do, to eat.
One more chapter, chapter 26 of Proverbs. Proverbs 26, starting in verse 12. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Now verse 13, “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road!” Remember those unfounded fears? “A fierce lion is in the streets!’ As the door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.” What is that? Undisciplined living. He just turns like a door on a hinge, back and forth on his bed. He can’t seem to get out of bed. When I was in school, one of my teachers, we had a 7:00 AM class so we had to get up at six and get ready by 6:30 and be prepared and be in our seat by 10 to 7. So, the class would start at seven and you know what he said? He said, you students need to have mind over mattress. In other words, don’t be like a door turning on its hinge, back and forth in bed. That’s why I don’t like the snooze button. Did you know the snooze button on Alarm Fox, on your phone, where you can hit snooze… do you know what that teaches you? To sleep a little longer, sleep a little longer, take every second possible rather than get up and redeem the time. Sleep, turning like the lazy man. So, I’m not an advocate of the snooze button.
Look at verse 15, “the lazy man buries his hand in the dish.” He just puts his hand right in the serving dish. It’s like he has these unsatisfied desires. He just can’t get enough for himself. “It wearies him to bring it back” his hand, “to his mouth.” He’s even lazy in fulfilling his desires. He won’t even work hard to satisfy his desires. For 16, “The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” He has an unresponsive heart. Look back at your slide. God is categorically opposed to laziness. Proverbs 6, 10, 15, 22 and 26.
Next slide. God says, I’m going to give you a series of principles. God says, learn to discipline your body to get up early. Now, let’s look again in our Bibles, starting at Proverbs 20 in verse 13. Remember when we read these verses, this is the word of God. The word of God is God speaking to us. When we pray, we’re speaking to the Lord. When we read His word, we’re hearing His voice in this. So, when God speaks, we should really listen. Look what the Lord says, “Do not love sleep lest you come to poverty;” Look in chapter 20, verse 4, “The lazy man won’t plow because of winter;” He wants to sleep in. It’s too cold to get up. It’s dark in the morning in the winter. The Lord says, learn, look at this slide, to discipline your body to get up early. Now, let me ask you something. Do you have mind over mattress? Do you set your alarm and get up? You know what you should really try and do? Get up as soon as it rings the first time. If you train yourself, you know what will happen? You begin to learn to get up early by choice, with no alarm. For me, I wake up basically about the same time every morning. I wake up sometime between 5:30 and 6 every morning. What’s interesting, Bonnie and I have found out when I changed time zones, I still wake up at that time. Sometimes it’s 3, 3:30 in the morning, but it’s just like clockwork because the Bible says do not love sleep, chapter 20 verse 13.
Here’s the second principle. God says, learn the discipline of doing the hard jobs first. Then you can do the easier job second, and then have fun. Now, where does it say that in the Bible? Let’s go to Proverbs chapter 22 and verse 29 and then we’ll go to 24, but Proverbs 22 and verse 29. “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before Kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” We all know that from life, the person that practices their piano until they’re so proficient that they don’t seem to ever make a mistake. Or the athlete that so practices, whatever their sport is, whether it’s their golfing or their shot, they are practiced. See what it says in the word of God? They are the ones who excel in their work and they will someday stand before kings. In other words, they will become recognized. God says, there’s a reward for following His word. His word says don’t love sleep, get up. His word says excel at your work.
Then chapter 24. This is fascinating, this is contrary to how most of us think. Look at chapter 24 and verse 27. “Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field and afterward build your house.” Don’t make your comfortable nest first, the easy thing, like rollout your sleeping bag and get it all fluffed, and your pillow, and then maybe take a little nap. No, go prepare the hard stuff first. See what it says? The “outside work, make it fit in the field.” That’s tackling the hard part. That’s the rocks, the hard ground, the thistles, the thorns. That’s the difficult work. The blazing sun or the rain or whatever the difficulty is of being outside, as opposed to the comfort. Look back at the slide. Learn the discipline of doing the hard jobs first.
Thirdly, this is what God says about working hard, not being lazy, learn to like your work. Even if it’s hard.
Let’s look at Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 12 and verse 11. It’s very interesting when we think about how the Lord, what he’s saying, is so contrary to our modern society that’s denying the creation mandate. That’s denying the creator. Denying the roles God designed men and women for. As well as everything in marriage and family. It’s just fitting that they’re opposed also to the work ethic. Proverbs 12 and verse 11 says this, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” Basically, what it says is tilling land; remember clearing the rocks, plowing the hard ground, planting the seeds, keeping the weeds out; all that is hard work.
I don’t know if you have to be born liking to farm, 3000 years ago, if you wanted to eat you had to farm. Or you had to tend sheep. Or you had to sheer sheep. Or you had to… do you understand what I mean? There was nothing else. There wasn’t an easy way to earn money back then. It was hard work and see what the Lord says, look at the slide; learn to like work, even if it’s hard. How do you do that? Ask God to grant His blessing and favor on your work. If you want to read about this, the account of Joseph in Genesis 39 is fascinating. Do you know what it says? When Joseph was put in prison he didn’t just mope and get in the corner and say, God, how come you’ve abandoned me? He learned all about what was going on in that jail where he was, and he began to be the jailer’s assistant. Joseph understood the creation mandate. He understood work and he asked for God’s favor.
Do you have a hard job? Some of my jobs, I’ve had over the years, were really hard. Very tedious. Very monotonous. My father worked in the same job, for the same company, in the same building for 46 years. He excelled in what he did. He used to tell me that so many of the men hated their jobs. My dad loved his job, he worked for General Motors. When they gave him a break, inside of his lunch pail he had all these things he brought with him to work. He taught himself Greek, and he taught himself Hebrew, and he taught himself theology. Even though he wasn’t able to go past a high school in his education formerly, he continued his education all 46 of his years until he became known as a Bible teacher. Until he became known as the spiritual leader. Look back on that slide, learn to like your work, even if it’s hard and ask God to grant His blessing and favor on your work.
Next side, the fourth principle is this; never try to make money by deceit or fraud. If you do, watch out, God says I am not going to allow that to go on. I’m going to punish you. “The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, but He casts away the desire of the wicked.” The “treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.” Proverbs 11:18 says, “The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.” God says, I’m not going to allow you to make money by deceit for very long before I get involved. Now, the wheels of judgment of the Lord are slow, but they always recompense. The third reference, Proverbs 16:8, “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice.” Finally Proverbs 28:8, “One who increases his possession by usury and extortion…” usually is overcharging interest, extortion and threatening, and taking money directly. “Gathers it for him that will pity the poor.” In other words what the Lord says is, you’re going to lose your fortune to someone else, I’m going to let them have it. So, don’t try to gain money by deceit or fraud or injustice.
The next slide, number five, God says it’s wrong to assume others owe you a handout. Oh boy is that timely? Whether you’ve worked hard or not, don’t fall into an entitlement mentality. Let’s look at Proverbs 13:4. It says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing.” He isn’t willing to work, he’s lazy. But he wants something he desires; his hand is out and has nothing. “But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” God says it’s wrong to assume that others owe you a handout. We are living in a nation that is moving away from God and His word, as fast as they can. As they move away from God and His word, they move away from what God said in His word, that if anyone will not work, they shouldn’t eat. So, we have an entirely organized entitlement society where people are entitled to get income with no work. I don’t mean the severely handicapped or sick or elderly. I’m talking about people that just say, I don’t work, you owe me, you’re too rich and I’m poor, give me what you have. That is in opposition to the word of God.
Number six, God says work hard and don’t be lazy. Now let’s talk about this. If you are a lazy person, or if you tend toward laziness in a certain area of your life, what does God want us to do? Confess our sin to Him. Let’s look at Proverbs 28:13. Because this principle, Proverbs 28:13, which should be among your favorite verses in Proverbs, it is mine. This is what the Lord says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Whether at home, at work, or in ministry all we have to do is admit to God that we haven’t been working like He wants us to. That we have been rebellious because of our pride and living for ourselves right now. Following foolishness, we are not submitting to His word, that says we’re supposed to work. So, whether at home, at work, or even in ministry admit to God that you haven’t been working as hard as you should. He knows it already and all we’re supposed to do is ask Him to cleanse us from that sin. That’s His will, and that’s His plan.
Next slide, abandoning laziness and growing in diligence means you must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We’re going to look at some practical steps about that, but let’s look at Proverbs 31:27 for a minute. I love this verse and I think that it’s something that as young people, we constantly should have as a goal. To be like the biblical characters. I know that so many of you, I see the percentages of students, both enrolled as well as viewers in YouTube, most of you are half my age or much less than half my age. Look what this says, should be all of our but especially your goal, Proverbs 31:27. It says, “She watches over the way of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Abandoning laziness and growing in diligence means you want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to be disciplined. To have mind over mattress. To not be like the hinge on the door where we flip and flop and try and sleep every possible moment. Say, Oh, it’s too hard to go outside. It’s dark or it’s cold or there’s a lion out there, but saying I want to obey your mandate to me. I don’t want to be foolish. I want to live life your way. How do we do that? Here’s some practical steps.
The next slide. If God says to work hard and don’t be lazy and we’re struggling with laziness:
- Number one, ask the Holy Spirit to make you a hard worker for God. If we’re weak, God gives us strength. His grace is sufficient.
- Secondly, and this is what I have done for a lifetime, that’s why my Bible is marked up, re-read and even memorize the Proverbs that pertain to laziness and work. I want to fill my mind. Think about this for a second. Do you know how we overcome laziness? Both work ethic and laziness are attitudes and only God can change us on our inside, of our mind. God is in the business of renewing minds. He is in the business of energizing our minds. So read and re-read and even memorize the Proverbs that pertain both to laziness and work.
- Thirdly, trust God to overcome any bad habits you’ve developed regarding work and diligence.
- When you’re tempted to be lazy, seek, cry out for the Spirit’s help, and remind yourself of what the Bible teaches. What does God want us to do in order to obey Him and work hard and not be lazy? The same thing He wants us to do when we’re afraid. We cry out to Him for help and confess and forsake our fears. The same thing when we’re anxious, when we have wrong desires, when we feel bitterness coming on, when we don’t want to obey the Lord, and don’t feel bold enough to share the word. It’s all the same. It’s a choice of calling out to the Lord and finding His grace to help in times of need.
In the next slide, I would like to just give you the broader picture. The broader picture is what I call choices that keep us from wasting our life. Now, turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 5. I would say that of all the settings that the Bible presents, this perhaps is the one that kind of comes back to my mind more than any other. I have made a choice to think about this event. 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” You and I need to make a choice to think every day about the fact that very soon, in relation to eternity, our lifetime is very short. So, very soon our lifetime is going to be finished and we are going to be transported in front of what 2 Corinthians 5:10 calls, the Bema seat.
That’s the raised platform where Jesus is seated as our Savior, our Redeemer, and as the one who’s going to assess our life, what we did with our lives. We are going to give, see what it says in verse 10, “that each one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” God’s going to say, did you do with your body what I ask you to do? Did you live out your gender specific role? Do you know what your gender specific role is? God has said that in the home, the role of man is to be the leader and the role of the wife is to be the help meet to the man. In the church, God says the role of men are to be the elders and the pastors and the role of the women is to be those who support them. All that they do in the home and in the church, God has given gender specific roles. Now, in the world in finance, in business, and education, the Bible says men and women can excel to any. You can be the greatest politician or corporate leader, but when you enter the home, or the church God has mandated specific roles in marriage and family. We are supposed to live by that creation mandate work ethic. So, did you know a part of the judgment seat of Christ is going to be whether or not you worked? Whether or not you avoided work, whether or not you acted like the lost, rebellious, proud, live for now, foolish people on the wide way who thought they were entitled to free everything rather than being saved by God’s grace, submissive to His word, and humbly living His way; choices that keep us from wasting our life.
What’s going to happen by the way, with our life? Just for a second, turn back to 1 Corinthians 3. A lot of believers don’t even realize what’s going to happen at the judgment seat of Christ. 1 Corinthians chapter 3, starting in verse 10 says, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” So, what Paul is saying is we’re all in this together. We’re all doing the Lord’s work, but if you’re wise, you’ll take heed how you build. Why? Verse 11, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Verse 12. “If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay, stubble…” What Paul is saying is, there’s a pile of building materials around all of us. They’re just spread all around. Wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, precious stones. Now just saying those words, there’s no comparison between gold and straw. Why? Because we see value. Spiritually many people don’t see the value in living God’s way. So, they’re foolish.
What happens when a believer acts like an unbeliever and lives a foolish life? Look at verse 13, “Each one’s work…” this is 1 Corinthians 3:13, “will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” What is going on here? This is one of my favorite illustrations. Have you ever been to a store and got a shopping cart? Go to Walmart, go to anywhere, and you get your shopping cart. You put in, any building material you want, but when you get to the end what does this say? What you have in your cart, what you did with your life, whether or not you responded to God’s word is going to go through the fire. The fire is right in front of the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. So basically, think about it, Jesus is sitting on the throne, all the redeemed of all the ages are outwardly into the distance, standing there one at a time we stepped forward and Jesus Christ said, it’s your turn, John. So, it’s my turn. I say, yes Lord. He says, bring what you did in your life before me now. You know what it says? Whether it be good or bad. See what it says in that verse? Good or bad. It doesn’t mean good or sin, because no believer has any record of their sins. That’s justification, that’s different, that’s the book of Romans.
In the book of Romans, Jesus Christ took the penalty for my sin. In other words, He was punished, and He erased the record of my sin and put the penalty and the record on to Him. In other words, He transferred all my sins into His account, the penalty for it but also the record. So, when I get before God, He’s not going to judge me for good and sin that’s bad, there is no sin. It’s living life not according, not submitted to Him. In other words, I’m not living for eternity. The parts of my life that I live for now in foolishness are bad at the judgment seat of Christ. They’re not sin.
Did you know? There is nothing sinful about sitting and watching or playing a game, as long as it’s not occultic or have immorality in it. There’s nothing wrong with the home shopping network. There’s nothing wrong with just kicking back and relaxing and enjoying. But let me ask you, is there a reward in Heaven for relaxing and watching television? Watching movies? Playing games? No. So, what will happen to all those things that aren’t sin? They just weren’t eternal, they burn up.
Every day we have a choice. Martin Luther said I have two dates on my calendar, today and the day I stand in front of Jesus Christ. Why? Because he’s going to dump his shopping cart in, just like I’m going to dump my shopping cart into that fire. Only what was done for Christ will last. Look back at your sides. That’s a choice that keeps us from wasting our life.
Now I’d like to share with you, see that slide is called a tragedy in the making. Now look up and think about this for a second. Have you ever thought about what most people think a good life would be like?
- Have a car that works.
- A home to live in.
- A wonderful wife or husband.
- Some children.
- Some friends.
- A quick and painless death,
- Then go to Heaven.
Isn’t that, honestly speaking, what most people think life’s about? That’s a tragedy. You know what the Lord says. He says, you’re going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. I’ve left you with one thing to do in life. I’ve left you to go into all the world and to share the gospel. Now you go into all the world and share the gospel as you’re doing your education, as you’re getting your job, as you’re being married, as you’re raising your family, as you’re going through life. But do you know what the tragedy is? Thinking all life is, is finishing school, getting a good job, having a family, and a car, and a house, and raising kids, and having friends, and having a quick and painless death. No. Whether therefore, you eat or drink, or go to school, or have a job, or have a family, or whatever, do all for the what? Glory of God. Do you know what the tragedy is? Not living for the glory of Jesus Christ. Rather thinking of life only as about me having a comfortable, cushy, well-protected life.
Now really quickly before we go, next slide, what can keep us from serving Jesus in daily life? Look in your Bible at Revelation 3. Do you remember what Revelation 3 is about? Jesus comes back to visit the church after a couple of generations. He was crucified about AD 30. The apostles Paul and Peter were martyred about AD 65/64, somewhere in there and about 95. So, two generations after the crucifixion, Jesus comes back to visit the church. That’s Revelation 3 and look what it says in verse 17. Jesus is visiting this church and by the way, what’s He visiting them to see? Whether or not they’re doing what He left them to do. What did He leave us to do? He left us to do His will. To go into all the world, to make disciples, to be followers of Christ, to shine His light into the darkness, to go and urge people to come to Christ. That’s really the only reason we’re left on Earth. Otherwise, it should be we disappear when we get saved, get out of this mess, go to Heaven. He left us here to be, what did Paul call it? Christ ambassadors. So, what happened in this church?
Starting in verse 17, the people in Laodicea hadn’t done what Christ ask them to do and He is writing down why. What kept them, see the slide, what can keep us from serving Jesus in our daily lives? Jesus examined them and found what kept them. So, what kept them? Chapter 3, starting verse 17, Jesus was reading their minds. He knew what they were thinking, and He writes it down for us. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’…” and Jesus ads. “And do not know that you’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” So, verse 18, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love,” verse 19, “I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
Back to your sides. What did Jesus say can keep us from serving Him? I call these pathogens. Now for just a moment I’d like to talk to you about pathogens. We’re right now in the middle of this COVID time period, where everyone is vitally interested in not allowing pathogens. Those are germs. Those are viruses. Those are deadly, tiny things that are invisible to us. That attack our bodies. Did you know, there is something more dangerous than physical pathogens like the COVID-19 virus? Do you know what’s even more deadly? Spiritual pathogens. That’s what Jesus is saying to those in Revelation. He says, you are looking and thinking about and investing your life in all the wrong things. You’re not protecting yourself from the real dangers.
- What are the real dangers? Look back on the slide.
- Lust for comfort and convenience. That’s what was going on in Revelation 3. They only thought about their comfort and their convenience.
- Then Jesus said, a greed for recognition. That was what was going on in the sermon on the mount. The people were only doing things to be noticed.
- Then a covetousness for security. That’s what Jesus covers in Isaiah 31.
Now, look up and think about this. What infects Christians so they don’t obey God? What infects Christians so they don’t work hard for the Lord and instead they’re lazy? Most churches are begging for help in the nurseries, in Sunday school, in childcare, in evangelism and outreach and missions, there is a constant need in the church. Why do people not work hard for the Lord? Why are we tempted? Look back at the slide, because we think first of our comfort and our convenience. That’s what the Lord said to the church of Laodicea. Because Jesus said we want to be recognized. There are so many people that won’t do anything if they don’t get recognition. Most of us are very concerned about our health and safety and so it’s security.
Now look up and let me ask you, if you weren’t concerned about comfort and convenience, recognition, and security, what would you do that would most please God. You’d say, I want to go wherever You want me to go. I want to share the gospel with whoever You want me to share it with. How about being practical? Think about this. Where do you live right now? When I went to Michigan State University and I went to my first class, the teacher made fun of me when I raised my hand. But I still stood up for Christ and said, I believe the Bible. I believe that the Bible is true. A group of young people, 50 of them, came to me after class. Do you know what they asked me? Would you start a Bible study? Did you know, that wasn’t comfortable for me. It wasn’t convenient for me. I was working my way through school. To add a new thing, a Bible study to it… But you know what? That’s what God wants us to do. Not what’s comfortable. Not what’s convenient. Not what will cause us to get recognition or keep us safe. He wants us to be Him. I hope you’ll think about working hard and not being lazy, not just financially, but spiritually.
Next slide, that’s the first pathogen. Unforsaken desires. We have a desire for comfort, convenience, recognition, and security. We need to forsake those.
Here’s the second pathogen. Exceptionalism. Now you can look up and I will explain exceptionalism. That’s even an unusual word, but this is something as I read this, think about it. You recognize this in either your life or the life of others around you. Here’s what it is. Unrecognized exceptionalism is this, it’s thinking my life is an exception to God’s word. Thus, we excuse ourselves from doing things God tells us to because of our past. You don’t know about my past; I can’t serve the Lord because my past. Or my pain, I’ve been hurt too many times. Or I don’t have any money, I’m in poverty. Or I have a poor self-image, I don’t think that people would accept me.
Think carefully on this; you will never be in the future what you’re not becoming today. Don’t say someday, I’m going to read the Bible. Read it today. Don’t say someday, I’m going to memorize scripture. Start memorizing today. Don’t say someday, I’m going to go and serve the Lord. Start serving Him today. You’ll never serve the Lord overseas and cross an ocean if you can’t cross the hallway and knock on someone’s across the hall or across the street. If you can’t share the gospel where you work, where you go to school, the people you live around, you’ll never be in the future what you’re not becoming today. If you’re not responding to and obeying God’s word now, if you feel like you’re always the exception to God’s word, you be that way to the end. You have to repent. Remember Proverbs 28:13? Confess and forsake, and you find mercy.
Back to the slides. The third deadly virus is pockets of pride. Exceptionalism, thinking I don’t count with what God wants, my life’s an exception. But pockets of pride, what is that? Think with me and I’ll describe it. This means that we allow pride to grow secretly, inwardly. What are some areas of pride? Remember, we were born proud. When we get saved, we’re supposed to humble ourselves. Did you know that the flesh, the old us, is still wired this way? What does that look like? I’ll describe it a little bit.
- Sometimes we’re inwardly proud of our intellect. What does that mean? We think we’re smarter than other people. That’s an unmortified pocket of pride. Number one, what do we have that we didn’t receive from the Lord? So, why do we glory like it’s ours? If you are smart, you got that from the Lord. It’s not something that you compare and inwardly brag about.
- Or we’re proud of our achievements. We think that we are better than others because what we’ve achieved.
- We’re proud of our goodness. We think we’re not as bad as others. Sin in the light of other sin never does look bad. See what happens if I compare myself with you, I can find something that makes me feel better about myself than you. That’s not what we’re supposed to do. I’m supposed to compare myself to the holy, infinite, God of the universe and I see how far short of Him I fall. I humble myself and I repent. That’s God’s plan.
Back to the slide. What keeps us from serving the Lord? The first pathogen, unforsaken desires. Comfort, convenience, recognition, security. Repent of those and say Lord, here am I, send me. Exceptionalism, thinking that God’s word applies to everyone, but me. No, repent of that. Say Lord, I’m under your word, I want to obey you, and Lord, I want to repent of any pride.
What does the Lord want us to do? Next slide. Invest the rest of our life with God. This is the last verse I want you to turn to. 1 Corinthians 6. Get your Bible and note this one if you’re new in the Lord. In fact, I just got a note. We’re posting these classes on YouTube on a channel so that people can come to the class, as well as those of you that are actually students enrolled in the classroom. I just had someone from Canada, a part of Canada that’s right next to Alaska. So, if you know North America, Alaska is way up there in the upper Northwest, and there’s a part of Canada that’s up there. Yukon or something, I don’t know the province, but it’s up there. They said I’m new in this Christianity and I’m tracking along with you. I’m wondering if you could tell me some more things, I’m supposed to do other than the class. I thought isn’t that precious? They’re a new believer. They’re wanting, because they’re saved, to submit humbly to live for the Lord. So, if you’re one of those new ones, this is a verse you should know.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20. I better actually get there; I was in 2 Corinthians. So, here we go, 1 Corinthians 6:19. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price.” Now pause, that word bought at a price is a Greek construction that speaks of being bought out of a slave market. Did you know, when we were born, we were slaves to sin? We were in Satan’s family and Jesus Christ came and bought us out of slavery to Satan. Purchased us and put us into His family. So, how should we respond? “You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6 says that God is on the lookout for men and women who have ears to hear and respond to Him and say I want to glorify you, verse 20, with my body and in my spirit because I belong to you. Do you know that you belong to the Lord? Do you believe that He’s your creator? He supernaturally designed you, uniquely to either be a man or a woman. The unchangeable parts of your life God picked. In other words, whether you’re a man, whether you’re a woman, the unchangeable parts, what you look like, what family you were born into, what country you were born into, what culture you were born into. Every unchangeable part of our life God picked. God says, I have a plan for you. For the vast majority of you I want you to be married. I want you to follow your role in marriage, in both marriage and family. I want you to work. I want you to live every day seeking to live for eternity, not wasting your life. Jesus has taken all of our sins away, now it’s our choice whether we serve Him.
What’s the best way to serve the Lord today? Well, this class is. God says, I want you to work hard. Whatever you’re doing, whatever job you have, you should be the hardest working person in that job. You should be standing against laziness in any form in your life. Why? Because that’s the wisdom of God, I want to submit to His plan.
Let’s pray and ask the Lord’s blessing on, here’s the last slide, on His truth to our heart. God says He wants us to work hard and He doesn’t want us to be lazy.
Let’s bow together.
Father in Heaven, thank you for the truth of your word. I pray that by your Spirit we would say, I want to obey you Lord. I want to resist my flesh that always wants to be lazy. I want to say, give me your strength, I repent of laziness in my life, and let me with all my heart work and serve you through life. In the name of Jesus we pray. And all God’s people said, Amen.