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The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato - Proverbs 6:6-11;Romans 12:11

Taught on | Topic: Laziness | Keywords: laziness, sloth, seven deadly sins, proverbs, leisure, rest, work, excuses, diligence

The first in our list of White Collar Sins will be laziness—showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act or, in some cases, even care. Though many would smirk at this as being petty or trivial (after all there are much worse things in the world), the Bible itself addresses it as being substantial since many other lives can be affected by it. Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in chains.

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1/21/2018
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The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato
Proverbs 6:6-11;Romans 12:11
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The first in our list of White Collar Sins will be laziness—showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act or, in some cases, even care. Though many would smirk at this as being petty or trivial (after all there are much worse things in the world), the Bible itself addresses it as being substantial since many other lives can be affected by it. Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in chains.
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White Collar Sins

White Collar Sins

We say we want to be holy, yet we tolerate sin on a daily basis, comfortable with its permeating presence in our homes, our relationships—our very lives. And while we view murder, lust, and lying as unbearably wicked, we trivialize gossip, gluttony, and envy. In the series White Collar Sins: Death in Its Sunday Best, Pastor Skip Heitzig challenges us to view all sin as destructive and recognize its painful consequences.

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Outline

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  1. What Laziness Is (Proverbs 6:11)

  2. What Laziness Isn’t (Proverbs 6:10)

  3. What Laziness Does (Proverbs 6:6-10 & Selected)

  4. What Laziness Needs (Romans 12:11)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: January 21, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato"
Text: Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 24:30-34; Romans 12:11

Path

The first in our list of White Collar Sins is laziness—showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act or, in some cases, even care. Though many would smirk at this as being petty or trivial (after all, there are much worse things in the world), the Bible itself addresses it as being substantial since many other lives can be affected by it. Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in chains. Pastor Skip defined laziness, its effects, and its cure:
  1. What Laziness Is (Proverbs 6:11)
  2. What Laziness Isn't (Proverbs 6:10)
  3. What Laziness Does (Proverbs 6:6-10 & Selected)
  4. What Laziness Needs (Romans 12:11)
Points

What Laziness Is
  • Laziness has been around a long time. One of Sodom's sins was laziness, the "abundance of idleness" (Ezekiel 16:49). Sometimes called sloth or sluggishness, biblically, it is a sin.
  • Laziness shows up in ancient lists, including the seven deadly sins of the Roman Catholic Church (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth).
  • There are nineteen verses in Proverbs concerning laziness. A biblical proverb is not just good advice but God's advice, short aphorisms or axioms succinctly stating practical truth.
  • A lazy person is a sluggard, someone who hates work. This is not a reference to the unemployed, but the mal-employed: those who see work as an inconvenience.
  • Work was not part of the curse, but it existed before the fall in the garden of Eden. God gave Adam a job: caretaker.
  • Probe: Laziness is something many people face. When do you feel the laziest? What do you do to get out of the rut of laziness?
What Laziness Isn't
  • Laziness does not mean leisure. As Benjamin Franklin noted, "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two different things."
  • People need free time to pursue other activities that provide rest and recharge.
  • Time to spare spares the soul: it's good for health and mental well-being. It's the reason God gave the fourth commandment, Sabbath rest. The Hebrew word for Sabbath is shabat: put to an end or intermission. It's a deliberate time to unplug.
  • Of all the Ten Commandments, this one is the tender commandment. God knows we need rest and recharge.
  • Probe: What do you do to unplug and relax? Do you have a set schedule for relaxation and hobbies? If so, when do you relax and pursue your hobbies?
What Laziness Does
  • There are certain characteristics of a lazy person:
    • A lazy person won't focus on the task at hand (see Proverbs 6:9).
    • A lazy person won't finish what he or she started (see Proverbs 12:27; 24:30-31). The person may start out right, but there is no follow-through, only excuses not to finish. As Billy Sunday stated, "An excuse is the skin of reason stuffed with a lie."
    • A lazy person lives an unfulfilled life (see Proverbs 13:4; 21:25). Laziness can leave a person restless, unsatisfied, discouraged, and frustrated.
  • It's a very unfulfilling life to be driven by love of ease.
  • Probe: Many people struggle with laziness, which is primarily a lack of diligence toward God. Read 2 Peter 1:5-8. According to Peter, how can you break the cycle of laziness?
What Laziness Needs
  • Laziness needs a good shot of diligence.
  • Proverbs speaks of diligence six times, as do several references in the New Testament (see Romans 12:11; Ephesians 6:5-8).
  • Romans 12:11 can be translated as "never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically."
  • The phrase fervent in spirit means enthusiasm to the boiling point.
  • Everything in life changes when you bring God into the picture.
  • Your earthly work reflects how you serve your heavenly Master. We shouldn't just put in time to get a paycheck.
  • Rather than living the lazy life of a couch potato, live the diligent life of a godly achiever.
  • Though works do not save us, we are being evaluated by our work from the moment we are saved (see 1 Corinthians 3).
  • Probe: Most Christians show diligence in three areas of life: work (where you get money), family (those closest to you), and leisure (things you like to do). Why is it important to show diligence in every area of your life—not just those three? What are some areas in your life you can show greater diligence? What can you do to improve?
Practice

Connect Up: How does a work-filled life reflect the Lord? Why do you think the Lord created work? Conversely, why did the Lord create—and demonstrate—rest (see Genesis 1)? How do the two go hand in hand?

Connect In: How does the church benefit from working people? How does the church benefit from resting people?

Connect Out: Should evangelism be considered work? Why or why not? If you think it is work, what makes it so? If it is a pleasure, why? If both, describe your thoughts.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. God takes laziness very seriously
      1. One of the sins for which God judged Sodom was laziness (see Ezekiel 16:49)
      2. It also goes by the term sloth
      3. Seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth
        1. Compiled by Pope Gregory I in AD 600
        2. The Catholic Church taught them as the unforgivable sins
        3. This is incorrect, as all sin can be forgiven save the blasphemy of the Spirit (see Matthew 12:31)
    2. White collar sins
      1. Sins that many people see as not that bad
      2. Gossip, selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, envy
    3. Social scientists have noted that Americans are becoming addicted to entertainment and leisure
      1. Binge-watching
      2. Needing to have a screen in front of us
    4. The book of Proverbs especially deals with laziness
      1. Nineteen verses on the topic
      2. The Proverbs were written by Solomon
      3. Short sayings based on long experiences
      4. God's advice
  2. What Laziness Is (Proverbs 6:11)
    1. Proverbs 24:30-34
    2. God's creation ought to be a classroom
      1. It will give us lessons about God (see Psalm 19:1)
      2. Solomon challenged the reader to look at the ants
        1. Solomon praised the ants for their work ethic
        2. He wrote Proverbs for his son
      3. Solomon stated that lack of diligence leads to poverty
    3. Sluggard
      1. Atsel = sluggish
      2. Hater of work
    4. Solomon was speaking to the mal-employed
      1. The actively disengaged
      2. Work was something that came before the fall
        1. It is not a curse
        2. God gave Adam a job (see Genesis 2:15)
  3. What Laziness Isn't (Proverbs 6:10)
    1. It is not leisure
      1. There is a time for resting activities (see Ecclesiastes 3:3, 7)
      2. We need time to be free of work
      3. Time to spare spares the soul
    2. This is why God commanded us to take the Sabbath (see Exodus 20:8-11)
      1. Shabbat = Sabbath
      2. Also means intermission
      3. God wants us to rest; it restores our soul (see Psalm 23:2-3)
  4. What Laziness Does (Proverbs 6:6-10 & Selected)
    1. A lazy person will not focus on the task at hand
      1. Cannot give a set time when a task will be complete
      2. Distracted by useless things
    2. A lazy person will not finish what he started
      1. Starts with the right intentions but never finishes
      2. Proverbs 12:27; 19:24
      3. Always has an excuse for why he won't finish
    3. A lazy person lives an unfulfilled life
      1. The result will be poverty, restlessness, dissatisfaction, and discouragement (see Proverbs 13:4; 21:25)
      2. Unfulfilled appetites and desires
  5. What Laziness Needs (Romans 12:11)
    1. Diligence (see Proverbs 12:24)
    2. Serve the Lord enthusiastically (see Ephesians 6:7)
      1. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not for people
      2. Enthusiasm to the boiling point
      3. Everything in life changes when you bring God into the picture
      4. Our work should reflect our heavenly Father
  6. Closing
    1. Although we are not saved by works, we are evaluated by the work we've done since being saved (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
    2. Purpose to have more to show God when you get to heaven than your Netflix account
Figures referenced: Benjamin Franklin, Pope Gregory I, Antonio Stradivari, Billy Sunday

Hebrew words: atsel, shabbat

Cross references: Genesis 2:15; Exodus 20:8-11; Ezekiel 16:49; Psalm 19:1; 23:2-3; Proverbs 6:6-11; 12:24, 27; 13:4; 19:24; 21:25; Ecclesiastes 3:3, 7; Matthew 12:31; Romans 12:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Ephesians 6:7

Topic: Laziness

Keywords: laziness, sloth, seven deadly sins, proverbs, leisure, rest, work, excuses, diligence

Transcript

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The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato - Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 24:30-34; Romans 12:11 - Skip Heitzig

Hello, and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. We pray that God uses these teachings to impact people with his love. If this message encourages you, let us know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.

Laziness is showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act, or even care. Though many would consider laziness to be petty or trivial, the Bible says that it's substantial, since it affects others. In the message, The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato, Skip shows us God's thoughts on laziness. Now we invite you to take out your Bible as he begins.

So we are probably all familiar with the term in our culture, couch potato. Also known as sofa spud. Somebody who is unmotivated, not active, one who would spend presumably most of his or her time watching television. There's even a website I found called couch potato. And the website is an open source service to download free movies, so they will add to your couch potato experience. They are endorsing couch potatoism to its fullest degree. You can get free movies. And some of you, sadly, are actually writing that down right now. Wow! Free movies!

If so, there are a few things every couch potato will understand. That is, first of all, the desperation you feel when you realize you've lost your remote. The panic that ensues when you realize your phone battery just dropped below 20%, and your charger is all the way upstairs. Contemplating using your shirt as a kleenex in order to avoid going and getting one. That's just outright gross.

The amount of concentration that it takes to balance a plate of food on your stomach. The pure joy you feel when you first realize you could have your groceries delivered. You mean I don't have to actually get up and go to the store, they'll bring them to me? New revelation. And finally, the absolute nightmare of when your cable or internet goes out.

What do you call the children of a couch potato? Tater tots.

[LAUGHTER]

OK. Enough of that nonsense. We do want to get serious, and that is because the Bible addresses this subject head-on. In fact, little known fact, that one of the sins for which God judged Sodom is the sin of laziness, according to Ezekiel 16:49. It is called in the New King James, the abundance of idleness. The abundance of idleness.

Laziness goes by an older term, the word sloth. And that's an intriguing word, because the word sloth shows up on an ancient list of sins that pre-dates white collar sins, and the list is called the Seven Deadly Sins. Before the TV show Seven Deadly Sins, there was actually-- 600 AD-- a list compiled by the Catholic Church, called Seven Deadly Sins. And they were also known as capital vices. They were also known as cardinal sins. And those are the sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

Now the way the church postured these, is these are simply excessive versions of natural desires. Everybody has natural tendencies, temptations, desires. But when you take them to this extreme, they become capital vices.

That list of seven deadly sins was first compiled by Pope Gregory the First in 600 AD. And interestingly, the church, for a while, taught these are sins that you could not be forgiven for. They were unforgivable sins. Of course, we know that is nonsense, because Jesus said every manner of sin, a man can be forgiven for, except for one, and that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Because it is sin, it is, therefore, forgivable. That's the whole point of Jesus coming.

But we've done a series. We've embarked-- starting last week-- on a series, called White Collar Sins. Last week was more introductory, and now we're kind of getting more specific, and we will for the next few weeks.

White collar sins, what do we mean by that? We mean respectable sins. We mean the category that most people would say, well, they're not that bad. We really wouldn't regard them as sin, even though you can call them that. Most people in our culture, even in our Christian culture, may not see them as serious. Things like gossip, selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, and envy.

Today we talk about laziness. And we do so, because social scientists have been observing cultures, and our culture included. And they have noted that Americans are becoming addicted-- their words-- addicted to entertainment and leisure. So I don't think we have to belabor that. We understand we live in the day and age of binge watching. And it seems like we increasingly find the need to have a screen ever before us, even while we drive on the roads. There's always that little screen. We've got to have that out there. So we've become addicted to entertainment and leisure.

We're looking at the book of Proverbs. And Proverbs chapter 6 and 24 deal with this, though there are many other scriptures that deal with it. But interestingly, the book of Proverbs especially, because 19 different verses in the book of Proverbs deal with the issue of sloth, or laziness.

A word about Proverbs. They're written by Solomon, and they're put in proverbial proverb form. I've always looked at Proverbs as short statements that take the place of long explanations. So they are axioms. They are epigrams. They are aphorisms. They are sayings. They are short statements that take the place of long explanations. Or, a better way to look at them, is they're short sayings based on long experience.

Solomon writes these based on experience. But it's more than just good advice, it's God's advice. It is part of holy scripture. So what I want to do, is give you today four fundamentals about laziness. What it is, what it isn't, what it does, and what it needs, or how it's fixed.

So let's begin with what laziness is. Let's just look at what the scripture has to say about this topic. We begin in Proverbs chapter 6, look at verse 6. "Go to the ant, you sluggard!" That's an introduction. "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 from your 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, and your need like an armed man."

At this point, some of us are shifting a little bit, getting a little uncomfortable with the text itself. Let's look at, now, Proverbs 24, verse 30. "I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding. And there it was, all overgrown with thorns. Its surface was covered with nettles. Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well. And I looked on it and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest." Just like the chorus of the same song. "And so shall your poverty come onto you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man."

They're two different Proverbs, two different texts, but dealing with the same idea. In Proverbs chapter 6, Solomon is giving a direct challenge to a lazy person to go out and observe, and learn. He's giving him the dispatch to go examine nature, and the industriousness of creatures in God's creation. Can I just say, good luck. Good luck at having success telling a lazy person to go out and learn something like that. But he does.

And the point being, is that God's creation ought to be a classroom. Though you and I could be able to go outside, and up to a point, look around and notice the order of things, and the regularity with which things occur, and some of the elements in nature. And that will give us lessons. Like David said in Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork."

But in this case, Solomon is not like David, saying look up, he's saying look down. David said look up at the stars, Solomon says look down at the ants. Consider this highly industrious, very organized creature called the ant. Now when I was a boy, we used to to-- I had three older brothers-- we did many things with ants, and to ants. I don't need to describe what those things are that boys often do.

But it was amazing, looking down at them. It was like looking at a little city of very busy, organized-- they're carrying things, they're doing things, they're going places. It was just amazing. And did you ever have an ant farm? Did you ever have those little pieces of glass? It was two panes of glass, and you put sand between them, and you put ants them. And you can watch them burrowing down, and making their little tunnels, and then making chambers, and building garrisons. And what Solomon is doing is praising them for their work ethic. They don't have a ruler, nobody tells them what to do, they're just doing it.

Now there's a little bit of humor that I picked up here. Solomon, according to chapter 1, is writing the book of Proverbs for his son. And, I don't know, but maybe Solomon had a lazy son who wouldn't pick up his room. And mom and dad always had to say, pick up your room! Clean up your room! But here, he goes, go to the ant, you sluggard. Nobody tells them what to do, but they're picking up their rooms. So there's a little bit of rub that I kind of hint from that. That's Proverbs 6.

Now in Proverbs 24, it's Solomon's personal experience. He's on a journey, he's going down the road. And he glances over, and he notices something that is very different in the landscape that is around him. There are fields around him on this journey, but here is one particular vineyard and field of a lazy man. And it's overgrown with weeds, it is unproductive.

And Solomon says that in that encounter, he himself learned something from the experience. And that is that lack of diligence leads to poverty. Why that man didn't work the field, we don't know. But one of the things we do know is that there are two seasons of rain in ancient Israel. The winter and the spring. The early rain and the latter rain.

The best time to work the fields is right after the rains, when the ground is soft. But maybe the lazy man got up and said, it's too cold out there! So he misses the opportunity because of his laziness, and the ground becomes unproductive.

Now in chapter six, the first passage we looked, at there's a noun given to this person, and it's used twice. And what is that word? Sluggard. Go to the ant, you sluggard. Even the name itself sounds really bad. The Hebrew word is atsel. And it means slug like, sluggish, unmotivated, indolent, lethargic, torpid, whatever synonym you want to attach to it.

Now the Bible in basic English, translates the word sluggard this way: hater of work. Go to the ant, you hater of work. But the prize goes to the New Living Translation, which says, go to the ant, you lazy bones. So either way you look at it, the words are not complimentary words.

Who is Solomon having in mind when he writes this? Not the unemployed person, the person who doesn't have a job, but wants one. He's not speaking to the unemployed. He's speaking to the malemployed. Somebody who has a job, but is not motivated in that job.

I read a study where 23 million Americans-- this study says-- 23 million Americans are what are described as actively disengaged from their work. Isn't that a nice way of saying they're lazy? They're actively disengaged from their work. They're at work, they go to work, they clock in in the building of their work, but they're actively disengaged. There's not much excitement or enthusiasm. They look at work as an unavoidable inconvenience.

Now if you were to find one of these actively disengaged workers, which according to the studies, you should be able to find them in spades, because they're everywhere. And you say, excuse me, but why are you so actively disengaged in your work? And if that person said they were a Christian, they might say, well, you know, work is a curse. The Bible says work is a curse. At which point you need to say, I think you ought to read that Bible just one more time. I think that would help, because you will discover work is not the curse, it's the laborious toil that came as a result of the curse that God put on the earth that is the struggle.

In fact, you would tell that person work was something that came before the fall. And in fact, when God put Adam in the Garden, one of the first things God did to Adam, is give him a job. Genesis 2:15 tells us, "God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend it, and to keep it."

So work is not a curse. God established it, and established it to be something that is satisfying, even though at times, because of the curse, it is toilsome. One college professor that I read, I think really explains the problem, really nails the problem.

He said this: "Even in engineering classes, many of the US students expect to be given A's for inhaling and exhaling. And they look at you like you have four heads if you suggest that perhaps coming to class, doing homework, and studying might improve their grade." And he concludes with this remarkable statement: "Our pride and over-exalted self-image has made us lazy."

Our pride and over-exalted self image has made us lazy. That's his viewpoint of the culture. That's what laziness is. Now let's quickly pivot, and look at what is not. In verse 10-- and that's in Proverbs 6, but also it's found in Proverbs 24-- listen to what it says. "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep."

Now I just gotta tell you, that sounds really good. I read that and go, nothing wrong with that. In fact, my wife tells me that when I sleep at night, that's how I sleep. She goes, it's funny, you lie down, and you're on your back, and you fold your hands. And she said, you look like a dead guy. So I said, well, that's nice sweetie, that's how you remember me. The dead guy she slept next to.

Now you might read this verse, and you might think, so am I supposed to feel bad, then? If I lay down, and I fold my hands, and I close my eyes, and I take a nap? No you are not. The answer is a resounding no. There is a difference between laziness and leisure. Laziness is not leisure.

Even Ben Franklin, the Founding Father-- somebody who would be called very industrious-- said, a life of laziness, and a life of leisure are two entirely different things. Laziness does not mean leisure. Solomon, who wrote this book, also wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, where he wrote: "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." And he lists a variety of activities, but he also included a time to heal, and a time to keep silence. So those are resting activities.

You see, we all need time. Not only to work, but we need time to be free of work, to pursue other activities that provide rest and recharge the batteries. Time to spare spares the soul. It's good for your mental health. It's good for your physical health. And even if it's not necessarily folding your hands-- because I'm really not a good napper, some people are great nappers. I'm a bad napper, because a nap for me turns into an eight hour sleep cycle. So then I'll mess my whole thing up.

So I'll come home, even after a Sunday, and people who study speakers will say that you usually feel enormously tired after speaking that much, and that you have to rest, or something. So my colleagues think I'm crazy, because when I go home on a Sunday, they say, I go take a nap. And I say, well I usually mow the lawn, or I pull weeds, or I just do a different activity. It's restful for me not to just sit around, but to go do something else, because when I'm doing a different activity like that, what I find is my mind goes to a different place.

And some of the problems I am trying to work out and wrestling with, I get resolved doing those mundane things around the house. And that goes to say, I'm not great at resting. It is something that the Lord is constantly trying to show me. So I'm preaching to myself here.

And this is the reason God gave us the fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment. You are to keep it holy. You are to regard the Sabbath as holy. You are to do your work for six days, but on the seventh day you are to do no ordinary work. And it's interesting that it's part of the 10 commandments. So God is saying from heaven, relax, and that's an order.

So it's OK to have leisure time. In fact, it is a commandment. By the way, the word Sabbath is the Hebrew word Shabbat, which means to put to an end, or an intermission. In other words, it's time to unplug, it's time to veg out, it is time to chill. And that's a holy activity, and it's commanded by God.

It means you stop doing what you do all the other six days, and this is a different day. Right? Isn't that was even David had in mind when he said, the Lord is my shepherd, he makes me lie down in still water and green pastures-- makes me lie down. Now some people who won't lie down in green pastures, sometimes they'll find the Lord makes them lie down in green pastures. He said, well, why would God do that? Well, David said after that, because it restores my soul.

Lying down for a period of time, taking a break, brings restoration to the soul. So this, of all the 10 commandments, this one is the tender commandment. It is God wanting you to go through the long haul of life with the proper amount of energy. And this is important to us, as Americans especially, I believe, because as one author put it, we have become a generation of people who worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.

So to keep everything in proper alignment, we need to work energetically, and rest as much. So that's what laziness is, that's what it isn't. Now let's consider what laziness does.

What I want to do is just share with you three quick characteristics of a lazy person. There are many more, but we could do a whole series on this, and you wouldn't tolerate that, so-- nobody would. So we're just going to give you three characteristics of a lazy person.

Number one, a lazy person won't focus on the task at hand. There's a task to be done. There's something that is in front of them to do. A lazy person is unable, or unwilling to focus on the task at hand. Look back at Proverbs 6. Look at the questioning beginning in verse 9.

"How long will you slumber, oh sluggard?" So I want you to picture this. Somebody is leaning over the bed or the couch, talking to the lazy person who refuses to get up. In fact, it's very picturesque in the book of Proverbs, it says, "As the door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man turn on his bed," says that he only turns to get to the other side of his body.

So imagine somebody leaning over saying, "How long will you slumber, oh sluggard? When will you rise from your 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, and your need like an armed man."

When we ask him such questions, like how long? Or, we ask him some such questions as, when are you going to get to that project? We're being too definite for him. When we say when, give me a time, when are you going to start this? It's just, he doesn't know. He can't commit himself to that. It's too much, he can't focus.

Like this poem I found, it says, "I've gone for a drink, and sharpened my pencils. I've searched through my desk for forgotten utensils. I've reset my watch, I adjusted my chair. I've loosened my tie, and straightened my hair. I filled my pen and tested the blotter, and gone for another drink of water. I've adjusted the calendar, and raised up the blind. I sorted the erasers of all different kinds. Now down to work I can finally sit. Oops! Too late, it's time to quit!"

So here's a person, then, that is distracted by so many little, utterly useless things, that the task at hand is never faced. That's a characteristic of a lazy person. There's the second characteristic, a lazy person won't finish what he started. He starts, he has good intentions, but he never finishes it.

Now Proverbs 24, you don't have to turn there. You know this by now, we just read it. Proverbs 24, there's Solomon, and he sees that field of that lazy man. Hadn't been plowed, wall is broken down. The vineyard lies in ruins. That man who owns that, he started out with the right intentions. Problem-- no follow through, man. Had good intentions, but he never followed through, now thorns have taken over, now the wall has collapsed.

There's another example of this principle, also in Proverbs. In Proverbs 12:27, listen to this one: "The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting." That's pretty pathetic. Guy gets enough gumption to go out and go hunting. OK, I'm going to get my bow and arrow. He goes out there, and he actually shoots the animal, and brings it all the way home, then he runs out of steam. It's like, I can't cook it. He won't roast it.

There's even a worse example in Proverbs 19, verse 24. Check this out. "A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again." So that's really bad. That's fatal. So can you picture the guy? He's got the oatmeal in the bowl. Puts the spoon in the bowl, just sort of sits there, looking at it. You come back an hour later, he's-- I can't be bothered to actually pull this stuff out. I mean, I thought about it. I actually poured the oatmeal in, but I'm done.

I don't know if you've ever had the experience, guys, of sharing a house or an apartment with other guys. So picture a house with three or four guys in it. I'm just speaking from experience. What is so difficult about taking the used toilet paper holder off the spindle and replacing it? In most modern houses, you can perform that maneuver while seated.

[LAUGHTER]

Just turn around, and just do that. Things that bother me that I'll never understand. The imagery behind all of these verses that we're reading is, here's a person who begins something, but he doesn't finish. And the reason he doesn't finish, he always has an excuse. It's a reason to him, but it's really an excuse. Billy Sunday defined an excuse as the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. Looking for excuses, not finishing the task.

So a lazy man went to the doctor for a complete physical examination. And after the examination, the lazy man went up to the doctor in his very, very listless, slurring way. So go ahead, doctor. Give it to me straight. Be honest, tell me what I have. The doctor said, actually, there's not a single thing wrong with you, except you're just plain lazy. And the man said-- after a pause-- he said, OK, now tell that to me in medical terms so I can say that to my wife. If I come up with a scientific sounding, intelligent sounding excuse, maybe I don't have to do it. So a lazy person won't finish what he started.

Here's the third. A lazy person lives an unfulfilled life. Because one and two are true, the third is necessarily true, because a lazy person won't focus on the task and won't finish what he started. A lazy person lives in an unfulfilled life. Both in Proverbs 6 and 24-- in both places-- it says, "So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man." The result will be poverty. You'll still have desires, but you won't be able to achieve those desires. And it's not just the poverty, therefore, laziness will leave him restless, unsatisfied, discouraged, and frustrated.

How do I know this? Proverbs 21, verse 25 says, "The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor." So he's got those hands, but he's not going to put them to work. And therefore, he has those desires, but they never get fulfilled. Again, Proverbs 13, verse 4: "The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing." He's got appetites, but they are unfulfilled. He has desires, but they are never satiated.

So it's a very unfulfilling life to be driven by the love of ease, and there's an antidote. There's a fix for this. And this brings us to our final characteristic.

To counteract laziness, one needs a good, healthy shot of, dose of diligence. That happens to be the opposite term used six times in the book of Proverbs. You'll often find things like, the lazy person is like this, but the diligent person is like that. They are contrasted quite often. For example, Proverbs 12:24: "The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor."

Diligence, how do we get that? How do we get that dose? Well, I want you to turn-- and we'll end here-- in Romans 12. Turn to Romans chapter 12 in your New Testament. And I'm having you turn to Romans 12 for a particular verse, and here's why. Beginning in Romans chapter 12, we begin what is the applicational section of the book of Romans. It is the practical part. If you know anything about Paul, you know that he writes doctrine heavy at the beginning, and practical heavy toward the end.

So he gives some pretty heavy theological weeds at the beginning-- salvation by grace through faith alone, not by works, using Abraham and others as examples of that. Getting into the argumentation that people would have about the law, and the purpose of the law, and the internal desires we all have. Covering all that theology, then covering the theology of the Jews in relationship to God's new covenant.

Then we come to chapter 12. It's very practical. It's the, now that you know this, therefore do this. And in his practicality, Paul talks about how to get along with your church, how to get along with your family, what to do personally. So he throws all of that together beginning in verse 9 of Romans 12. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."

Here's the key verse I want you to see: "Not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And then, "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer." What Paul does in Romans 12 is take the negatives presented in the book of Proverbs, turns them into a positive. What was a contrast, and the negative, of a lazy person is like this, and like that, sluggard, in Proverbs, now he turns it into the positive of not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

Listen to that verse, verse 11 in the New Living Translation. "Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically." When you see somebody serving God enthusiastically, and it's genuine enthusiasm, it's contagious. I don't mean a fake enthusiasm-- painted fire never warmed anyone-- but a genuine enthusiasm.

It's very similar to Ephesians chapter 6, where Paul says, "Work with enthusiasm." Stop right there. There's more to the verse, but I want you to stop and consider this. He says work with enthusiasm. A lazy person might say, why should I work with enthusiasm? You're speaking to an actively disengaged work person. I'm the guy who goes to work, collects the paycheck, but I'm actively disengaged in my work. Yet, Paul says work with enthusiasm. How do you do that?

Now I'll finish the verse. "Work with enthusiasm as though you were working for the Lord, rather than people." Oh, now that changes everything. So when he says not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, it actually means enthusiasm to the boiling point. That's what fervent in spirit means. You could even translate it to red hot. Red hot enthusiasm, enthusiasm to the boiling point.

That's impossible. If you're actively disengaged in your work, that's impossible. Unless you do it as though you're serving the Lord, and not people. If you see this as I'm doing this as unto the Lord, it's possible. Every thing in life changes when you bring God into the picture. No matter what picture it is, no matter at what point you bring God into the picture, once you bring God into the picture, everything changes. Because now it's not, well, I go to work and collect a paycheck. It's, I'm doing this for God. I'm serving the Lord.

It's more than, well, I'm part of a company, and I get retirement benefits, it's I'm doing this as unto the Lord. I'm serving the Lord. Did you know according to one study, workers in America admit to spending 25% of their time at work goofing off? Now, I don't know who does these studies. I don't know who would honestly give that information. If it's anonymous, I guess I understand that. Sort of like Facebook, keyboard courage. You can say anything when you're not saying it face-to-face.

But according to a study, American workers admit to spending 20% of their time at work goofing off. That's one day a week. And that includes things like personal errands, social media. So an employee died and went to heaven. And as he went to heaven, of course, there's Peter. He shows up in all these lame stories. And he's at the gates, with the clipboard.

So the guy sees Peter, and he says, there's been a mistake. I shouldn't be here. I'm only 35 years old. Now first of all, why would anybody take umbrage to being in heaven? But I overthink these things. So he's in heaven, meets Peter, and he says, there's been a mistake. I shouldn't be here. I still should be on earth, I'm only 35. And Peter goes, well hm, that's interesting. So he looks back at the records, checks them, and he says, well according to the hourly work reports that you've been turning in, you're 97 years old.

So how old you are, and how old you've been reporting-- how much time you've been reporting-- are two different things. And the point is this: your earthly work, my earthly work should reflect that we serve a master in heaven, the Lord of heaven and earth, because our earthly works reflects how we serve him.

Have you ever heard of a violin called a Stradivarius? You've heard of that, right? Everybody has. It's like the most famous-- if you think violins, you think Stradivarius. Usually that comes up in the conversation. So these are expensive. They're not $29.95. One sold for a million dollars. Another one sold for $4 million. Two of them sold for $10 million. One that I found-- a lot of them won't sell, they'll just say valued at, because it's owned by a museum or institution.

One sold not too long ago, and is being played by a musician, for $16 million. One little instrument. $16 million. Now I don't think the musician bought that. I've never met a musician who can buy a $16 million anything, but she's playing this. Now the question that I think everyone has is why? Thank you. Why? What makes that worth $16 million, and that thing worth $29.95? Well, it's a Stradivarius. So. What makes it so expensive? Here's why.

First of all, there's a couple of factors. Number one, there's just a few of them left in the world. Most of them haven't survived, so supply and demand, you only got a few. But number two, Antonio Stradivarius, the maker back in the 1600s, used-- they say-- a kind of wood, a dense composite wood, or kind of wood, that the way it was cut, and curved, and braced, put together-- the combination of the craftsmanship and the wood creates this acoustic resonance that is second to none. It's the best going. $16 million worth.

But here's the back story. Antonio Stradivarius believed that every violin that leaves his shop be near perfect as humanly possible, because he said God needs violins to send his music into the world. And if it's defective, God's music will be spoiled. How's that for a work ethic?

You could say, yeah, man, I'm just cranking out these violins. $29.95. It's got glue in it, it's got wood in it, good enough. A difference between the guy who does that, and the guy who says, this is God's music, I'm doing this for God. So then you're not just pushing papers, you're pushing papers for God. You're not just seeing patients, you're seeing patients for God. You're not just running that internet business because you're doing it, you're doing it because you're serving the Lord.

And that translates into not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Now I'm sure that this is not your issue. I'm sure that I'm not talking to a group of couch potatoes, sofa spuds, but godly achievers, that you have diligent lives. And why is that all important?

It's important, not just for fulfillment now, it is important even for your future, because although we are saved by grace through faith-- not of ourselves, not by our own works-- I hope you also know that you and I will one day be evaluated by the work that we do from the moment we are saved by grace, till we get to heaven. That comes as a shock to some people it shouldn't. You're saved not by your works, but by grace.

But once you are saved by grace, what is done and produced for the glory of God will be evaluated. We will be evaluated by God. The judgment seat of Christ. 1 Corinthians chapter 3, it says, "But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day, to see what kind of work each builder has done," he writes to believers. "Everyone's work will be put through the fire, to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames."

So there's a couple of ways you're going to get to heaven. You're going to get to heaven with a welcoming committee and applause, and a red carpet-- we've been waiting for you. And some of you might get to heaven and say, whew! Saved by grace. But got nothing to show after that.

And I'm just hoping that we have more to give to Christ than just our subscription to Hulu or Netflix, or a seashell collection. But that we are not lagging in diligence, but fervent in spirit, because we are serving the Lord.

Father, thank you for the straight talk from Solomon to his son, and to us by your spirit, preserved in scripture. How we love the idea of diligence. How we love the thought that we can love you and serve you, and there can be an enjoyment factor, because we know that things please you when we raise the bar of just working for people.

And we see it as we're employed by, and working for, and serving the Lord. That does change the complexion of every single activity. So Father, we pray that, again, for your glory, our lives might reflect that truth.

I pray, Lord, that we would work hard for your glory, but we would also rest hard for your glory. And take needed breaks, and vacations, and not feel guilty about the times of rest and naps. All using that to recharge us to take us further down the road, until we see you in glory. When there will be no more work done. When we won't be able to witness to a single person.

We won't be able to do anything that could build up another believer, because we'll all be before you in glory. And in that place, and at that time, we'll stand before you. Not because we're saved, or not saved. But because we are saved, you're going to give a reward, or hold one back. Lord, I pray that we, as Jesus said, would store up for ourselves, treasures in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Laziness grows on people. It begins in cobwebs, and ends in chains. Did this message give you a new perspective on laziness? Tell us about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work, at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
1/14/2018
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Sin in a Three-Piece Suit
Matthew 23
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Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God. We’re usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. My purpose in this series isn’t to condemn anyone. I hope to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, consider five characteristics of sin.
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1/28/2018
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Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster
Genesis 37; Acts 7:9-10
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Some attitudes can go undetected, at least for a while. You can't see someone committing envy or having resentful thoughts. But envy is detrimental because it blinds us and makes it impossible for us to think clearly. It discolors everything around us and steals our peace. Some know what it’s like to be envied, like Marilyn Monroe who once quipped, "Success makes so many people hate you." But most of us from time to time struggle with envying someone else.
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2/4/2018
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The Destructive Harvest of a Bitter Heart
Hebrews 12:14-15
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We all know someone who has become embittered in life. They have planted kernels of unresolved anger and resentment and have become entrapped by the overgrown jungle of the bitter fruit it has created. To choose the bitter path (and it is a choice) is to walk down a self-destructive road that banishes peace and promotes self-centeredness. Let’s consider several Scriptures and the four attributes of a heart poisoned by bitterness.
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2/11/2018
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Psst! Have You Heard...?
Leviticus 19:11-18
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The sin of gossip has never made it into the same lists as murder and manslaughter. It's regarded as one of the "little sins" that even Christians are unwilling to avoid. But gossip is in the same family as murder because it assassinates a person's character. It destroys reputations, disrupts families, divides friends, and causes heartbreak. And the problem isn't just in the speaking but in the hearing as well. Let's look at a direct command not to gossip.
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3/11/2018
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Gluttony: Society’s Most Acceptable Sin
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
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Overindulgence has become a hallmark of our modern American culture. Our bodies are constantly alive with conflicting desires and drives. The temptation to eat too much, drink too much, or indulge in any number of things is constant. And it is also trivialized. So what if a person eats a little too much? It’s his body! It’s her life! Or is it? How can we bring honor to God with our bodies? Is caring for them carnal, or is it a responsible activity of stewardship?
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3/25/2018
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When You Haven't Got a Prayer
1 Samuel 12:19-25
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The great mission worker Hudson Taylor was often refreshed by times of prayer. His son noted, "For forty years the sun never rose on China that God didn't find him on his knees." Someone called prayer the gymnasium of the soul. When was the last time you had a good "workout"? Today we delve into the mysterious cooperation of the divine and the human and consider the last topic in our White Collar Sins series--prayerlessness.
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There are 6 additional messages in this series.