Summary: Our Joy will be subtley taken away if there is no glorfication of the one who gives it.
Flying just isn’t fun anymore. If I had any doubts about that – well, my trip to Detroit last week certainly cleared it all up.
Going through the security checkout with Rachel and Jonathan in tow, we had to tell Rachel – you have to take off your shoes, just like the guards tell you. And, just as the kids are about to patted down and passed through the metal detector, Susan remembered that my shaving cream and her expensive cosmetics were all in our carry-on luggage, because I just don’t check anything if I can avoid it.
Well – you may remember that right now you cannot carry on more than 3.4 ounces of any liquid. And – if you have a 6 oz bottle that is clearly only ¼ full, it doesn’t count. The guards’ job is take away any container larger than 3.4 fluid ounces. Now, on my part that meant getting out of line, going back to the counter to check a bag – only to find that I was 10 minutes too late to check bags. Thankfully, United held on to Susan’s bottle, and I was able to make it to the plane less than a minute after they closed the door. Running at top-speed, waiting impatiently for those infernal busses to get me to the plane – well, let’s just say that’s not how I wanted to begin my “vacation.” Wouldn’t you know, I got to the gate just in time to see them close the door! Jonathan, and Rachel were headed to Detroit, and it was just Susan there to take care of them.
Well, God be praised, when I said, “Please don’t take me away from my family,” the attendant called ahead. When I got to the bottom of the jet-way, the stewardess just asked, “You’re the husband, right?” My suspicion is that everyone understood that two screaming children without their father weren’t going to make anybody on that plane happy!
It’s amazing what can take away our happiness. But you know what? In the midst of it all, God be praised, I never lost my joy. Sitting there on the plane, panting, out of breath, and not sure whether I was more annoyed with the TSA or myself, I realized that none of that really mattered. I knew that God was in charge and that was all I needed. Looking around on the plane, I knew too many people didn’t have that. And that makes me sad.
You see, rules and regulations can take away pleasures. The terrorists that caused all this in the first place can take away a false sense security. But no guard on earth has the power to demand our joy. It’s only something we choose to give up in the midst of everything else.
This morning, I’m talking to you about joy, because the last our seven deadly sins is sloth. Now, you might be wondering about the connection between sloth and joy. After all, normally when you think about sloth, you think about people being lazy, and the preacher pulling out Proverbs 6:6 – you know “Go to the ant, thou sluggard.”
Well, I need to teach you some definitions, because frankly our language has actually taken away the original meaning. About 1500 years ago, when those monks came up with that list of the Seven Deadly Sins – they used a Latin word accedia. In French, they’d probably use the word ennui to describe what they were getting at. You see, accedia or ennui really means something very different from laziness – it actually means having no joy. Think of it as being jaded or bored with life. No zest, no joi d’vivre (And no, I don’t know why the French seem to be so much better with this!) Losing your joy – having it taken away – that was the sin!
Now, you can probably see how that word would have evolved. If you don’t have joy, you get depressed. And, if you’re depressed, you really don’t want to do much. But the idleness isn’t the issue with sloth – it’s the lack of joy.
So, why do you suppose that a bunch of good theologians would have thought it a sin to lose your joy? Well, remember that anything that falls short of the glory of God is sin. And what could fall short of God’s glory more than no longer being able to recognize God’s glory, to experience his joy?
We began this series in Romans 1:23 – For though they knew God, they glorified him not as God, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
That’s sin, my friends. Losing your joy – consciously exchanging joy for any mere pleasure - something less than the joy of the Lord – is fool’s bargain. When you lose your capacity for the joy of the Lord, even simple pleasures no longer amuse.