Friday, June 6, 2014

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are lazy.

The righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
But the way of the wicked leads them astray.
A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence.
In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no doubt.
-Proverbs 12:26-28

Proverbs 12, like many chapters in Proverbs, goes back and forth, contrasting the ways of the wicked with the ways of the righteous. At the end of the chapter, in verse 27, laziness is condemned as a way of the wicked. This chapter puts laziness in the same context as hating correction (v1), deceit (v5), a perverse mind (v8), the pursuit of worthless things (v11), desiring the riches of evil men (v12), anger (v16), rash speaking (v18), lying (v22), anxiety (v25), etc. The reality is that all of us are likely guilty of all of those things, but, for the most part, we are relatively good about recognizing the wickedness of those things. The problem comes when we begin to justify, deflect, or even celebrate wickedness in our heart, and we have a tendency to do this with laziness. We tend to think about laziness as some kind of goal. As long as there's nothing personally pressing for our temporal satisfaction, we take pride in not having to do anything. We've worked an eight hour shift, so we deserve a few hours of television. A new video game is out, so we need to spend hours playing it in order to fit in with our friends who are doing the same thing. We hit the snooze button instead of waking up to begin our day pursuing God in prayer and in Scripture reading. We're even spending our money on things that tempt us into laziness. We pay monthly bills for television, internet, and smartphone services that constantly steal our attention from God. I don't think pursuing mindless entertainment is always a product of laziness, but I think it usually is. And for most of us, our diet and our exercise and our sleep habits don't help anything. We set ourselves up to love laziness. But I hope we can look at our laziness and hear the depth of what it means for this proverb to describe it as a way of the wicked.

There is certainly some pushback from busy people. Everyone is busy. In spite of that, almost everyone finds time to spend hours every day on their own entertainment. But even if you are truly busy, don't equate busyness to diligence. Most of us are busy doing lazy things. And even when we busy doing things we deem necessary, we use our busyness to justifying laziness when it comes to doing the work of God. If we're neglecting the work of God, then there is always something more valuable we could be doing with our time than what we're doing right now.

The Lord has placed us on earth to glorify him and to guide our neighbors into his righteousness. Laziness is a means by which we lead our neighbors astray. We neglect to pray for the lost and those who are suffering. Or, if we pray for them, we neglect to preach the gospel or offer ourselves in service to meet needs. Or when we do those things, we neglect to follow up in discipleship and persistence. Or when we have done all of this, we neglect to follow up in preparing and sending those disciples to do the same work. The task of God for us is one that will not be completed until the day we die.

Do you want to know why your church isn't growing? It's probably because the members are lazy when it comes to doing the work of God.

The church needs to take seriously the task of God. There are tens of thousands of people dying every day without Christ, yet we are in a country consumed with amusing itself to death. There may be a place for entertainment and fun in the Christian life, surely there is, but the tone and balance of Scripture is a complete inversion of what most American lives look like.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are lazy. Christ died for the lazy, and he is calling them to repent. May we crucify our laziness on the cross of Jesus Christ and take up his call to diligently see his name glorified in our world.