Does Your Busyness Cause Spiritual Laziness?November 14-18
A Lifetime of Talents
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. – Matthew 25:14-15 (ESV)
John Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Wilson, his family’s housekeeper: It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. “Get me, Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.” – “He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.” – “Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.” “No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you.” When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. “Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.” (Reader’s Digest)
Christians work for God. Matthew 25:14 is a parable about a master who goes away and leaves a certain company of servants to fulfill a task until he returns. The task was to care for and use the master’s goods until he returns. “Talent” represents more than money. Certainly, there is the surface meaning that money is to be invested for the Lord so that it brings spiritual profit. However, these talents also represent spiritual opportunities to produce good works for God.
Pastor Wes made the statement, “Imagine you were given a gift of time: an entire lifetime. And you did nothing with it.” Time is an opportunity to produce for God. What are some opportunities you believe God has given you recently?
Praise God for some of the “talents” and resources He has blessed you and entrusted you with. Ask God to show you areas where you can be a better steward of the “talents” He has given you.
“So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?” –Matthew 25:25-26 (ESV)
A man’s family sent him to the doctor because he constantly complained of being too sick to work. The doctor examined his patient, then told him to get dressed and meet him in his office. When the man came into the office and sat down, he said, “Give it to me straight, doc. Don’t use any complicated, fancy-sounding medical terms. My family wants the truth in plain English. What’s wrong with me?” “All right,” the doctor said. “I’ll make it as plain as I can. There isn’t a thing wrong with you. You’re just lazy.” The man sat silent for a moment, then said, “I see. Now, will you give me a complicated, fancy-sounding medical term I can tell my family?”
The “slothful servant” in Matthew 25 was just plain lazy. This slothful servant tries to blame his failure to make a profit on the character of God. The problem was not in God but in his own laziness, for he had no real desire to invest his one talent. Pastor Wes defined slothfulness as “spiritual or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken.” Pastor Wes went on to say, “Slothfulness is a spiritual form of laziness. And BUSY is the new LAZY.” Our business can get in the way of making a spiritual profit for God.
The servant is lazy with his talent because he had no desire to use it to make a profit for the master. The slothful servant didn’t purposely do evil, but by doing nothing he was committing sin, and robbing his Lord of service. What are some examples of spiritual laziness in your life? In what ways has business getting in the way of your spiritual growth?
Praise God for being a generous God who wants to bring about spiritual profitability through your life. Confess any spiritual apathy in your life. Ask God to give you a renewed sense of making spiritual investments.
The Pursuit of Things Can Make Us a Sloth
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” — Proverbs 13:4 (ESV)
Professional golfer Paul Azinger was diagnosed with cancer at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit. He wrote, “A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live.” Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. “Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living.”
Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour. He’s done pretty well. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, “I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole.” (The Answer to Death, Robert Russell)
Proverb 13:4 teaches that the spiritual lazy soul is never satisfied by worldly pursuits. And in contrast, the soul that is “diligent” is “richly supplied.” Pastor Wes said that our pursuit of worldly things can often make us spiritually lazy.
How can you relate to the Paul Azinger story? Do you feel the pressure to pursue things? Where do you think this pressure comes from?
We were made to work. Thank God for the physical work He has given you and the spiritual work He has given you to do. Ask God to help you prioritize the importance of spiritual work with the importance of physical work.
The Pursuit of Status Can Make Us a Sloth
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
In his landmark work, Habits of the Heart, the sociologist Robert Bellah describes three distinct orientations people take with respect to their work. The first orientation is to see your work as a job, a paycheck that takes care of the bills. The second orientation is to see your work as a career. Here, climbing the proverbial ladder in search of status and wealth are central. The third orientation is seeing work as a calling. This sense of calling is firmly established in the life of faith. If you have received a call-then someone must have made the call in the first place. That person is God, and because God is sovereign, our work isn’t simply what we want to do. (Stuart Strachan Jr, Habits of the Heart)
Society can easily make you feel like your worth comes from your status in society. Ephesians 2:10 teaches that your worth comes from your Creator. We belong to God. We are His property to do with as He chooses. But as someone has said, “God don’t make no junk!” God is the Master Artist who has rendered each of us as His masterpiece (regardless of how we feel) if we are in Christ by grace through faith.
Which of the three work perspectives, from above, do you possess? Someone said, “The trouble is that too many people are spending money they haven’t yet earned for things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” What are some of the status symbols you have acquired in your life? How does your current status make you feel inferior?
Praise God for making you one of His masterpieces. Ask God to make it clear what “good works” He has prepared beforehand for you to do.
The Pursuit of Happiness Can Make Us a Sloth
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” — Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
From an unknown source comes an article titled, “How To Be Miserable.” It says, * Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use ‘I’ as often as possible. * Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. * Listen greedily to what people say about you. * Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. * Never forgive criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. * Insist on consideration and respect. * Demand agreement with your own views on everything. * Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown to them. * Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. * Do as little as possible for others.
Pursuing happiness can easily lead to us being focused on ourselves. The slothful servant in Matthew 25 lived every moment of his life for himself even though he called himself a believer. When you are busy living for yourself it is easy to become spiritually lazy and neglect the work God has for you. Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33 that if you seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, He will add everything else you need to your life.
How do you feel when you’re around people who constantly make up everything about themselves? How would you know if you were that person who was making everything about themself? Reread the list of “How To Be Miserable” and ask if any are true of you.
Try to think of a few “all these things” that Jesus has added to your life. Praise God for those things. Ask God to make you aware of any self-centered attitudes in your life.