2 Thessalonians 3
The Bible warns of the deadliness of laziness. As one man put it: “the lazy brain is the devil’s workshop”. Our lazy days are Satan’s busy days. He loves a sitting target – a sitting duck. Laziness is a deadly sin.
When it comes to laziness Americans are possibly the world leader. We’re known as the land of the long weekend, of strikes, sickness and false claims. Where even early retirement has become an idol because anything is better than working, even nothing.
I. Laziness—A Blind Spot
• Do you struggle with laziness?
• I suppose if you are lazy you don’t struggle with it do you?
• Because the whole point of laziness is that it’s what you’re not doing.
• It’s what’s called a sin of omission.
• It’s what you’re not doing rather than what you are doing.
• So, if gluttony is chasing all the wrong things in life, laziness is more about failing to chase the right things.
• Where pride, anger, envy, lust, impurity and gluttony are seen in what you do, laziness is seen in what you don’t do.
• This is why laziness is such an easy sin to fall into.
• All you have to do to do it, is … do nothing.
• It’s always harder to be aware of something you’re not doing, than the things you are doing.
• When we come to confess our sins, we’re more likely to confess the bad things we’ve done than all the good things we’ve left undone.
• Laziness is like falling asleep at the wheel.
• You don’t even know you’ve done it but it’s just as deadly.
• It’s not what you did: speeding, overtaking, whatever.
• It’s what you didn’t do – you didn’t stay awake.
• If there’s one thing Jesus kept telling his disciples, and the Bible keeps telling us: its stay awake, be alert.
II. Busy Bodies vs. not Busybodies
• 2 Thessalonians 3 shows a bunch of Christians who are in huge danger of falling asleep at the wheel.
• Paul’s been reminding the Thessalonians about the great hope they have as Christians, about the need to live with their focus on heaven ahead, looking forward to a time when everything will be put right.
• But here’s the problem: focusing on heaven ahead doesn’t mean you just sit around waiting for it.
• It means you get busy with heavenly priorities.
• It means you realize all the things God wants you doing as you wait.
• In verse 11 of 2 Thess. 3, it seems some of the Thessalonian Christians have decided that they can just sit back, and take it easy.
• There’s a little song they use do at Pre-School: ‘It’s nice to get up in the morning, it’s nice to get up in the morning, it’s nice to get up in the morning, but it’s nicer to stay in bed”.
• That’s the theme song for some of the Thessalonians.
• As Christians we’re called to share with each other and serve one another, and to care for one another when we’re in need.
• We saw this when we look at the deadly sin of envy—we should always be wanting the best for each other and that’s going to mean showing love in practical ways.
• But there are always some people who say, “Terrific, I can just sit back and take it easy, I don’t have to work, I’ll just drop round on my friends from church every night for dinner.”
• Paul’s not talking here about people who can’t get work though, he’s talking about people who won’t work.
• And Paul commands the Thessalonians to keep away from those people (v 6).
• Paul set an example of hard work: and they ought to follow it.
• He says in verse 10 “if a man will not work, he shall not eat”.
• And he tells them to stop being idle (v 11).
• They’re not busy; they’re busybodies, using their time to drop into other people’s business.
• Lazy people become real vultures, not just feeding on their brothers food but feeding on their brothers lives – through deadly gossip.
• In the end, it’s a reflection of Paul’s gospel priorities, because being a Christian isn’t about taking, it’s always about giving – like Jesus gave to us.
• Being a Christian isn’t about being served; it’s about serving, because of what Jesus did for us.
• Which is why Paul goes on to say that we should ‘never tire of doing what is right’ (v 13).
• He’s saying: get busy with what is right.
• I’m sure most of us would think we’re busy people.
• That we’re earning our keep, that we’re not the lazy people Paul’s talking about here.
• The call here isn’t just to be busy, is it?
• It’s to be busy doing what is right.
• You might be the busiest person in the world but be an absolute sloth in God’s Kingdom.
• Jesus told a parable about someone like that.
• A master gives his servant a large sum of money to look after but the servant does nothing with it – he buries it in the ground.
• And so, he’s rebuked: ‘you wicked lazy servant’.
• Jesus’ question is: what sort of servant are you? Faithful?
• What are you doing with what God’s given you?
• God’s Word is calling us to be busy people with a purpose.
• Doing what’s right.
• This issue is just as relevant today as 2000 years back when the ink was still wet on this letter to the Thessalonians.
• Sadly, there are still freeloading Christians today.
• Maybe you’re one of them.
• There are always things to be done for God’s kingdom, but maybe you take advantage of the generosity of others – who bring pot luck meals and you never do, and who clean up around the church and you never do, who set up the church every week but you never do, who make meals for others but you never do, who are busy out there telling the gospel and inviting friends to church but you never do.
• Maybe you’re not doing what you could be doing for God and you need to repent of that.
• Laziness is all about the distance between what you are doing and what you should be doing, between who you are and who God’s calling you to be.
• For Paul the Christian life is a serious business.
• There’s definitely no room for busybodies.
• There’s only room for bodies that are busy.
• Are you busy with the things that count?
III. Godliness: Not Half-Baked
• It seems to me that we often have a very negative view of what it means to be godly.
• As if godliness just means not doing certain things.
• We’re aware of the wrong things we shouldn’t do, much more than the right things we should do.
• It’s a half-baked view of godliness.
• God’s people should delight in doing right.
• We might be tempted to think we’re being godly because we’re not doing this or not doing that, “I don’t drink too much, I’m faithful to my wife, I don’t lie or steal – I must be godly!”
• But what about all the godly things you’re not doing?
• If you’ve just got a negative view of godliness, you’ll actually end up in all sorts of sin.
• If you’re just hanging around not doing this and not doing that, thinking Christianity is just hanging around until Jesus comes back, you end up idle – you end up a gossip.
• I was just reading a passage from a book during the week on how dangerous this half-baked view of godliness can be.
• The author believed that the most destructive Christians are those with just this negative view of godliness.
• They’re so focused on all the things you don’t do, they end up idle – too much time on their hands.
• They become busybodies – or whining on the sidelines, busy pointing out what everyone else is doing wrong, instead of getting busy doing what’s right.
• They don’t lie or steal or swear or murder, but they don’t encourage either, or get involved, or share the gospel much.
• That’s why this series is all about dying to sin and rising with Christ.
• Not just dying to sin but rising to godliness.
• Dying to sin is essential—we’ve got to identify the sinful parts of our lives and cut them out— but if that’s all we think God wants from us, we’ve got a half-baked view of godliness.
• Real godliness is turning from sin to God, turning from old priorities to new priorities, turning from sinful ways to godly ways.
• Not just dying but dying and rising with Christ.
• Just like the death of Jesus shows us all the things Jesus died for, all the sins we’re to turn from, the resurrection of Jesus reminds us of all the things we should be turning to.
• Paul spells it out plainly in 1 Corinthians 15:
• Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
• Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.
• That’s why Paul said earlier in this letter to the Corinthians, “Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel!”
• He’s not just sitting around waiting for heaven; he’s trying to be along a few others as well.
• He’s not just got a negative view of godliness, he’s thinking of all the new things he should be doing.
• Is that you and me?
• Driven out in service of our Lord Jesus – turning from laziness to zeal, to enthusiasm, to a single-minded devotion and passion to honor Jesus?
• It’s easy for us to go absent in the harvest field out there and to forget that salvation is a gift, not a guarantee.
• God wants your service to him the way you like your coffee: hot, fired with passion for your risen Lord.
One of the worlds most famous pieces of art would have to be the “Last Supper” by Leonardo De Vinci. Most people have at least seen photos of it or reproductions of it on posters or stain glass windows. It was painted as a fresco on the wall of a monastery’s dining room.
Unfortunately, Leonardo’s work hasn’t been too well served by history. The wall began to crumble as soon as he’d finished painting it, because the monks had only built it with loose dirt. And some early friars even cut a door through the wall right where Christ’s feet were, and then they converted the room to use as a stable.
Can you imagine that? One the greatest picture in history and it’s left to a bunch of horses to stare at. To add insult to injury, when they finally decided to restore the painting up a little, some of the restoration was so sloppy it was laughable. One artist in particular was so casual about the task he actually gave James six fingers on one hand! The whole art world now mourns that such a treasure could be so neglected, so overlooked, so undervalued and treated so poorly.
If it’s a tragedy to treat a picture of Jesus like that, how much worse is it to treat the person of Jesus like that? Laziness and just simply sloppiness with our Lord, is sin. So, let us strive to die to sin and rise to new lives lived for him. Let us die to laziness and rise to a passion for our Lord.