Summary: A sermon examining the danger of spiritual negligence.
Awake From Your Slumber!
When I was a 13 year old boy, our family moved from my childhood home. When my parents sold that house it had been completely renovated. It was like new. The kitchen and bathroom had been remodeled. All of the bedrooms and the family room had been painted, and new carpet was installed. There was a new roof, and new siding on the exterior.
Within a few years that house was in a state of state of disrepair. The siding was falling off, the roof was caving in, the windows were broken out, the floors were rotten, the walls had holes in them. All the electrical and plumbing supplies had been stolen.
Today that house no longer stands, all that remains is an empty lot that once contained a nice home. The strange fact is that that it didn't take 20 years for that house to decay, it actually happened rather quickly.
Neglect quickly leads to decay and destruction. If you neglect your physical health problems arise. The same is true concerning your spiritual health.
We know certain people who were once "spiritual giants". They were soul winners, prayer warriors, faithful servants, and church leaders. They were load bearers, burden sharers, people of the Word. They were people who were faithful to the church and the ministry. But somewhere along the way they began to neglect the things of God, and now they are now a mere shell of what they once were. Perhaps you would be honest enough to admit that you are not where you once were spiritually. Maybe your passion and zeal has been replaced with complacency and apathy. You suffer from a far too common problem in the modern church, that problem is called "spiritual neglect".
Proverbs 24 sounds an alarm to those who suffer from spiritual neglect. I would like to examine this passage and encourage you to
"Awake From Your Slumber".
Solomon journeyed past a local field and he noticed a vineyard. It didn't take long for him to realize that something was amiss. The field was grown over with thorns and thistles. The wall that once protected the estate was now broken down. In those days agriculture was a very honorable profession. Farmers and vineyard husbandmen were well respected. But the owner of this land earned no respect from Solomon. In fact, Solomon says that he was "slothful, lazy and lacking sense."
Solomon draws our attention to the obvious neglect, and he proclaims the results of such slothfulness. He says that poverty is imminent for the man who had abandoned his duty. Many of our fellow Christians are headed towards spiritual poverty; even worse, some of them are already there!
- Look with me to verses 30-31 as we see:
I. THE CRISIS OF SPIRITUAL NEGLECT
v30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; 31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
The owner had neglected his vineyard. Unless he woke up and gave it the proper attention, the situation would only get worse. If you refuse to address the spiritual crisis in your life, things will only get worse. If you would honestly appraise your spiritual condition you may find that that you have become slothful in the things of God. Your spiritual life is withering away. Your heart is as hard as the fallow ground. You are indifferent toward the things of God. You are backslidden!
Like the church at Ephesus you have "left your first love". Whether you realize it or not, you are in the midst of a spiritual crisis!
- Let's take a moment and consider:
A. THE DURATION OF THIS CRISIS
This field was not consumed with weeds and nettles overnight. Nor was the vineyard overgrown in just a few days. The wall did not decay in a short period of time. An extended period of neglect caused all of these issues.
If you find yourself away from God, chances are things have gone unaddressed for some time. You began to stray and step by step you walked further and further away from the Lord. The crisis of spiritual neglect begins when we take our eyes off of the Savior. This followed by apathy and complacency concerning the things of God. The natural result of this is returning to the things of this world.
David Wilkerson said - The river of neglect slowly carries you farther and farther away from the Lord. And the farther downstream you go, the swifter and more dangerous that river becomes! You don't know it, but there are raging falls ahead - a place where there are forces beyond your control, a place of no turning back, (a place) of shipwreck!