Summary: Introductory Comments 1.
1. It may well be the most dangerous sin for both society and the church. It is so prevalent and accepted that we may not even think of it as a sin. It has become a way of life. In fact, if we do not commit this sin, people think there is something wrong with us. For we live in a world that says, "Relax, don’t get excited, keep cool."
2. Today we look at the deadly sin of sloth. And as we do we see how this deep sin is killing our society. But we also see how it has crept into the church and into our lives.
1. What is sloth? Its not a word we hear very often. The Hebrew term can refer to a bow that is not strung or equipped with an arrow for action. This image is used to describe the people of Israel.
Psa 78:57 Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow.
Another Hebrew term refers to that which is difficult, heavy hindered and indicates foolish laziness or sluggishness. "I’ll do it if it does not take too much effort." Sloth can be called laziness, indifference, apathy, a pulling back emotionally from anything important.
2. Sloth can be described as many different things in our society. Henry Fairlie says that "Sloth is often expressed in this world under the polite name of "tolerance," but in hell it is called "despair." It is the sin that "believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die." Someone reminded me this week how people used to have many things that they were willing to die for. During WW1, young men would lie about their age in order to have to opportunity to fight or die for their country. Today they may still lie in times of war, but it would probably be in order to not have to fight or die.
3. We have become comfortable. We are so well off, so rich. Kind of reminds us of the church in Laodicea. It was a rich city - a financial center, clothing manufacturer and a medical center. They were so rich that all they wanted to do was enjoy what they had. 4. We become complacent. I have what I need, I don’t really need much more. As long as I am taken care of.
4. That is why work is seen as an evil today. Often no sense of fulfilment. Work to provide for pleasure. Can’t wait to get to the weekend. Thank goodness its Friday!
5. But the problem, as we said, is not just out there. It is right here. In our church and in our hearts. And that is what Jesus tells us in our passage today.
6. The church in Laodicea was slothful. They were lukewarm - complacent. Here was the faithful and true witness - the one who gave His life for them, the one who fought to the death, the one who was the ruler of all things. If anyone should inspire us to be hot in our faith and lives, it should be Him.
7. He comes to the church, He comes to us. And He says "I know you". I know that you have become indifferent and apathetic. You are lukewarm.
8. Would Jesus say that to you, to First Reformed Church? Are we on fire for the Lord or are we kind of going through the motions with little feeling or with as little effort as we can get away with?
9. This indifference is an attitude within us that affects what we do. The people in Laodicea had an attitude that they had arrived. We’ve done the work, now we need do no more. And their deeds reflected this. They failed to come to God for help. They did not need him.
10. This does not mean that they were inactive. They did do things, they did have deeds. But they were just going through the motions. To be indifferent means that we do not have the compassion and care of God in us. We may still be busy, but our motives may be wrong.
11. Why are we lukewarm? Do we think we have arrived? Or are there other reasons? As I look at myself or at you I see a number of reasons.
12. Perhaps you are burnt out. You are tired, have worked hard for the Lord and see no results or no solutions. To be burnt out means to feel trapped. I felt this way before I came here. My vision for the church had gone. I still did my work but I really did not care. My heart was not in it. I had no sense of purpose or mission. And I felt that way for a year. I could not go on that way and so I knew that I had to make a change.