Friday, June 25, 2010

The Sluggard’s Farm and the Strenuous Life

Life has kept me on my toes lately! Just as my grandpa used to say “your life will never be less complicated than it is right now.” It seems that every new day brings something new, and there are already so many things that demand time in my schedule, i.e. cooking meals, cleaning the house, exercise, study, reading, blogging, photography, chatting with family and friends…etc.

Most people who know me will attest to the fact that I like to lead a busy life, in fact, I thrive on busy-ness. But just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean I have it easy. In fact, it seems like the more productive I want to be, the less I actually get done. Have you ever felt that way?

It would be so much easier to just relax and take life day by day, moment by moment, right? Don’t do today what can be put off until tomorrow…

Actually, Scripture commands the opposite. In Proverbs 24:30-32 we find a poignant example of the Lord – through the words of Solomon – condemning sloth.
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.”
—Proverbs 24:30-32

The Sluggard’s Farm

Charles Spurgeon preached a short sermon on the passage above, and as I read through it there were a number of points that really hit home for me. I attribute the majority of the following thoughts to Spurgeon’s sermon, The Sluggard’s Farm.

In his sermon, Spurgeon addresses several types of lazy people, the first being those who are spiritually lazy. We might describe them as “hyper-Calvinists,” those who believe that man is not required to labor for the Lord in converting and discipling sinners. They are led to this belief by acknowledging God’s sovereignty but denying man’s responsibility to fulfill the Lord’s commands (i.e. the Great Commission).

To quote Spurgeon,
“Do-nothingism is their creed. They will not even urge other people to labour for the Lord, because, say they, ‘God will do his own work. Salvation is all of grace!’ The notion of these sluggards is that a man is to wait, and do nothing; he is to sit still, and let the grass grow up to his ankles in the hope of heavenly help.”

“The sluggard, whether he is sluggish about his business or about his soul, is a man void of understanding.”
As a dedicated Calvinist myself, I certainly don’t question the crucial doctrine of God’s sovereignty, but Spurgeon has a point. We are called to “labor in the vineyard” and pour out our lives for kingdom service, not sit around and expect the Lord’s blessing on our idleness.

Spurgeon then goes on to describe the man who is practically lazy, who thinks he is “cultured,” “educated” and all the rest, and yet never actually does anything important.
“Friend, if your knowledge, if your culture, if your education does not lead you practically to serve God in your day and generation, you have not learned what Solomon calls wisdom…”

“Wisdom ploughs its field, wisdom hoes its vineyard, wisdom looks to its crops, wisdom tries to make the best of everything; and he who does not do so, whatever may be his knowledge of this, of that, or of the other, is a man void of understanding.”

“Having opportunities he did not use them, and next, being bound to the performance of certain duties he did not fulfill them.”
Speaking of the man in Proverbs 24, Spurgeon says,
“He was not a sickly man, who was forced to keep his bed, but he was a lazybones who was there of choice.”
This is Not Beyond You
“You are not asked to do in the service of God that which is utterly beyond you…”
When we’re idle, it’s almost always by choice. We knowingly neglect what we ought to prioritize, thinking that there will always be time for that later (right now I just want to enjoy myself!), but we need to shake ourselves of that lie and realize that we are not guaranteed our next breath, much less another day, month or year.
“A Christian sluggard! Is there such a being? A Christian man on half time? A Christian man working not all for his Lord; how shall I speak of him? Time does not tarry, DEATH does not tarry, HELL does not tarry; Satan is not lazy, all the powers of darkness are busy: how is it that you and I can be sluggish, if the master has put us into his vineyard?”

“No rest can come out of an idleness which lets ill alone, and does not by God's Spirit strive to uproot evil. While you are sleeping, Satan will be sowing.”
I hope these thoughts from Spurgeon have encouraged and counseled you as they did me. Just so you know, I hope to write a follow-up post which addresses the other side of the coin – rest.

1 comment:

Christopher Berkompas said...

I love that sermon. Spurgeon actually preached a series of "farm sermons" where he used the biblical analogies and experiences of his listeners to drive home his point. Some of them are really good.