Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; -- Romans 12: 11
You need to understand the word Ďbusinessí in this verse. This is referring to an earnest, serious purpose. Now if you get honest with yourself, you will realize that almost everything that you do falls into this category, even the smallest things. The word íslothfulí means to be slow or in our vernacular, it simply means to be lazy. Letís go into the rest of the verse word by word so that we can understand and rightly divide Godís Word. The best definition I have found in the Lexicon for the word Ďferventí is earnest. This means to do something with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Now we have covered almost every word in the verse that could cause us some misunderstanding. We can give a literal translation of the verse as follows: ďDonít be lazy in whatever task you do because almost everything you do has a serious purpose.Ē You are not to be slothful or lazy when youíre accomplishing your goals, but you are to be honest in spirit, ďserving the Lord.Ē In other words, you are not to waste time.
I would like for you to sharpen your spiritual skills and take note that we have just quoted a Scripture in the book of Romans. Romans is part of the 7 church epistles that are written directly to the believers today. Another book which is part of the church epistles and is the greatest revelation to the church of the body of Christ of which you and I belong, is Ephesians. We are now going to turn to that book which relates to the same subject as the book of Romans.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, where in is excess; but be filled by spirit; -- Ephesians 5: 15 - 18
Let us now follow the same pattern of study that we did in Romans. The best definition of the word Ďcircumspectlyí is as follows: ďTo carry out a task with precision, care and diligence. To be exact, accurate and perfect.Ē This is how we are to walk with God. Notice the conflict if we are slothful in what we do every day. We are to be sharp and not as fools but as a wise person making the best use of time because the days are evil. Do not be unwise but understanding what the Will of the Lord is. You cannot know the Will of the Lord unless you know the Word of God. We are not to be drunk with wine or any alcoholic beverages where we drink to excess, but we are to be filled by the spirit. We are to pray to God with our understanding and in the spirit. We are not to be lazy, slothful, or waste time.
I would like to put my own idea into this subject quickly. There is no degree of sin with God Almighty. But I often thought that if there were to be a very dangerous sin, it would be to waste time. We are to live our lives to the fullest for God Almighty. There is no time to waste time.
Again, following the same pattern that we did in Romans and Ephesians, we are now going to study from the book of Philippians. I do not believe in coincidences so I would like to say that God has set a pattern for this teaching. The book of Philippians is also one of the 7 church epistles that are written to the church of the body of Christ Ė every person who is born again of Godís spirit.
I donít want to quote every verse, so I will point out some of the more important words that are in the Word of God in Philippians chapter 2. In verse 12, I want you to take particular notice of the word Ďobeyedí. Commitment begins with obedience. In this teaching, overall, God is telling us not to waste time. If we continue to waste time, we are not obeying God and we will face the consequences of our behavior. In this same verse 12, God tells us to work out our own salvation. Let me stop here and explain to you that the word salvation means wholeness. And we should do this with reverence and obedience. We are to respect God and we are to obey Him.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. -- Philippians 2: 13
Believe it or not, you must be willing to allow God to work within you. Why? You should know the answer to this by now. God never oversteps a manís free will. We all have free will to accept or reject God or anything else. You remember from verse 12 that God talks about obedience to Him. If you are in fellowship with God, then, and only then, will God work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. This will surely result in the more than abundant life for you. If God created life, I think he knows how to live it, donít you? Now the final point here that I want you to always remember is that God will not work in a believer who is lazy because that believer is out of fellowship. He is living in sin because he constantly wastes time and he is slothful in no matter what he does. The following verse is also most interesting.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: -- Philippians 2: 14
In a Lexicon, you will see that murmuring means a person that may utter in a low voice because they are generally complaining or manifesting discontent. It is referring to a person who expresses indignation against anyone. These are people who will talk behind your back and will cut your throat whenever they get a chance. God does not want anyone to ever be a murmurer. Now letís take a look at the next word.
In the Lexicon, the word disputings is not clearly defined. But it does say Ďa joint inquiryĎ hence a disputation. What God is trying to say is that we should not dispute or argue with anything that is based on the Word of God. Now think about the word murmur. Many people who express this quality in their personal life try to sneak and to hide what they are saying about others. If you think about it clearly and logically, many times a lazy, slothful person who wastes time will act in this manner. They cannot be trusted because they murmur in dispute of everything. They are trying to hide the fact that they waste time all of the time. Iíd like to get as clear and logical as I can with you. Have you ever heard anyone say that if you are not feeling very well, you should find something to keep yourself busy? You should find something to do to occupy your time. Many people have stumbled on this principle. It is true. Many times I might feel a little bit down because I just canít wait for Christ to come back. If I stay in this type of mood, I will eventually feel worse and worse. But if I start to do things around the house Ė even if itís some type of cleaning Ė anything, I begin to feel much better. If only that man who wastes time would put this principle into operation, he would be amazed at the results. So, if anything, I am trying to help that person with this teaching. Sometimes, it is so easy to get delivered from a very bad habit or lifestyle, that I will say something Iíve said many times - you can miss it for years. Today, I remembered revelation that I just would not listen to in the past. Well, in that area of my life, I became worse and worse. I kept wondering what was wrong. I went back to that same revelation and I decided to put it into operation and I am positive that any problems I may have had in a certain area are gone. But to continue to be delivered, I need to continue to be obedient. We just went over that principle a few Scriptures ago. So please understand if you are a lazy slothful person, I will ask you to try to do this one thing - to keep busy. Keep moving. I guarantee you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will begin to heal and your bad habits will begin to diminish. You must be obedient and you must stay committed. Sometimes, that is the hardest thing for us to do. And donít feel bad and donít condemn yourself. That will only make it worse. We all make mistakes.
Why does God not want us to be lazy, slothful, and waste time? In the next verse, God is trying His best to tell us what we are up against and to try and convince us that if we adhere to His Word, we will be able to overcome and be more than conquerors in every single situation.
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation [generation]. -- Philippians 2: 15
If we learn to become blameless and harmless in this present world, no one could find a bad thing word to say about us. You will then begin to see that most people really like you because they see light in you. We are in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. It will not always be like this. Christ is going to return for the second time and we will escape any and all problems. We will have a new body like unto his [Jesus Christ] and we will be able to transfer ourself long distances probably with just a thought. There is not much written about the new body that Jesus Christ had after his resurrection. But a few things were mentioned that were just fantastic and beyond our possible dreams and God will bring this to pass for us. We need to simply wait and while we are waiting we are to become blameless and harmless the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of this crooked and perverse nation and generation. We have everything to look forward to. We have $1 million sewn into the lining of our clothes and we donít even know it. How do we discover this? We study the Word more and more and we find great treasures every day of our life. When we have this hope of the return, we do not want to be lazy and we do not want to waste time. We desire to live a productive life where we stand approved before God. There is simply nothing else. I have looked everywhere and I searched for many years to find answers as to why I was on this earth. When I learned Godís Word, I was 100% positive that I found what I was looking for. I burned all my bridges and there is nothing to go back to anyway. It is my heartís desire that you feel the same way that I do. Why would I do all of this work for nothing? I donít want money to share what was given to me. I did contribute a lot of money to help the ministry that saved my life. And guess what God did? He gave it all back to me plus about 10 times more. I have no idea what to do with it. Thatís a promise in Godís Word. Itís in the book of Malachi. Itís a promise that God makes to us who tithe to the ministry that taught them everything they know. He says He will give you back so much that you wonít have room to store it.
Now I want to hit on something thatís extremely important. Well, you heard all the true stories that I have told you. Now I can preach to you all of the negative things about wasting time, but if I donít tell you how to get out of a negative situation, what good is my teaching? So now I am going to shift gears and Iím going to go to some Scriptures that will give you the solutions as to how to change your pattern of life. IF [CONDITION - God is a respecter of conditions] you know and admit to yourself that you are a lazy person and that you waste time.
I heard a true story once about a preacher who was preaching all of the negative things about a person who was an alcoholic. He did this because he saw that this one person finally came to his church meeting. He wanted to pat himself on the back for giving such a good sermon. When he was shaking hands with the people as they left the church, the alcoholic came up to him and said: ďIf you want to know all of the bad things pertaining to alcoholism,Ē he said to the preacher, ďI can tell you more than you will ever know.Ē He said ďI came here tonight to find a way out of the problem that I have had for so long. Instead of finding a way out, you just put me in deeper.Ē Can you imagine how this preacher felt? He stopped shaking hands and he went inside the church and he got on his knees and he prayed to God for forgiveness for what he had done. He vowed never again to preach a negative sermon. I never forgot the story and Iím sure that at times, I have done the same thing and I am sorry if I did. But not this teaching Ė I am going to the Word of God and Iím going to show you how to get out of a situation that pertains to wasting time.
The following is a Scripture that I have repeated in my mind thousands of times. If you feel you have a problem, but yet you canít find a way to resolve it, it can make you miserable if you keep on dwelling on the problem. You need to dwell on the solution. Here is the Scripture that God recommends.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. -- Philippians 3: 13
You need to discipline your mind and your thinking to forget about the past. This is one of those principles that is so simple that you can miss it for years. You think about yesterday, you think about something that happened 10 years ago. Now tell your mind the truth. You cannot do a single thing about what happened in the past pertaining to any area of your life. In this case we are talking about wasting time. You are not to dwell on the fact that you have been wasting time. You are to dwell on the solution to wasting time and that is to keep busy. Itís that simple. I know it sounds too easy and many times itís not that easy. Habits are mind patterns just like a chain. You have two chains coming together. If one chain is made up of a bad idea, you must break that chain and replace it with a good idea. Now you have 2 ideas forming one chain in your mind. That is why it is so hard to break bad habits. And it depends on how long we have been practicing that habit. Many years ago, I was selling weight control products. I felt bad for those people who were seriously overweight. But the longer in time that they were overweight, the more difficult it was for them to lose weight. But listen to this. I gave this product to a man who was at least 100 pounds overweight. He took strict and serious action and lost that 100 pounds. He was able to take this double chain that was in his mind and break it because he put forth an effort. If you are dwelling on the fact that you have a problem, you need to change your thinking. Now get that correctly, you NEED to change your thinking. You have to do it by your own free will. I mentioned to you that you also need to substitute a different activity in your life such as keeping busy. Now we have 2 possible solutions to a very bad habit Ė to a very bad lifestyle. Letís go to the Word.
And whatsoever ye do, do it [Ďworkí is the proper translation] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; -- Colossians 3: 23
Is this simply an amazing Scripture? When we work, we are to work heartily to the Lord and not unto men. We have to put this renewed mind thought in our heads every time weíre doing some type of work. We work for God first. We work for men second. Did you know that? The verse in the King James version is a poor translation. The words Ďdo ití should be scratched since they are not in the closest to the original translation. The proper word is of course Ďworkí. Now take notice of the subject matter of the Scripture. It is talking about work. Many of us do not like to work because our mindset is not in the proper place. You need to picture God as if He were there and He is. God is everywhere all of the time. There are many things that many believers do not completely understand. God likes to be mysterious and He works in very mysterious ways at times. Remember, when we work we are keeping busy and we cannot be wasting time. We should do work that is productive and accomplishes a good purpose. It is an honorable privilege to work. It may take you a while to digest what I just said. Believe me, before I knew the Word, I hated to go to work. Once I knew Godís Word, I went and found jobs that I enjoyed doing. I no longer hated to go to work, but I looked forward to it. Before I went to Penn State, I sold cars for a while. I found it to be the most interesting and fun job I ever had. I just had a blast working with people because I knew the Word and I understood what people were trying to accomplish. I used to tell people that I was very honest and then they really suspected me until they got to know me. I never respected persons just like God. If a guy was what my fellow salesmen called a Ďflake,í they would send me after that customer. It was not my turn to take what we called an íup.í Many times I would have a good chance of selling that person a car because I treated them like a human being and not like a crazy person. My boss was not the best person in the world. He put the dealership up for sale in an Italian paper in Italian. We somehow found out and that was the end of our jobs.
Again, before I knew the Word, I hated to go to work. There was one time that I did something that I wanted to do. The pay was terrible Ė the working conditions and people I worked with were not good Ė to say the least. But I went to work in a large state mental hospital. The first day I met a young lady who did not belong there. She was a patient for a long time. I knew then that God had a reason for me having this job. I worked with her for 6 months until she was finally discharged. I was called in the office and questioned about her discharge. The people who were questioning me could care less about this personís welfare. I later quit the job Ė thatís right, I walked off a state job. You see, I work for God. Right now, I work for God. I hope this sinks in with someone who is reading this. If you are right now trying to break your habit of wasting time, God is going to help you. Sometimes you need a lot of patience. You must understand, as I said many times before, God knows the exact right moment in time when something should be done. So I say to you that have this problem of wasting time and being lazy, that I care for you and I will pray for you. But you must take the action necessary to overcome your problem.
The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about wasting time and being slothful. Letís take a look at some of those Scriptures. A slothful way of life is what some people choose for themselves.
The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. -- Proverbs 21: 25
He brings it upon himself - heís killing himself. Why?!!! Because he refuses to labor with his hands. Itís a trick of all tricks brought upon these people by the god of this world who they CHOSE TO WORSHIP. Keep moving and study and do what God desires for you to do. THEN you get blessed. Otherwise, youíll slowly kill yourself. Which way are you going to choose? This morning I got up, ate a healthy breakfast, got out the lawnmower with rain threatening and cut my grass partly in a pouring rain. Hey, man itís just water! Got it done. After cleaning my lawn mower almost spotless, I came in my home and made some distilled water - thatís all I drink. Then I finished polishing my 26 yr. old Corvette. Itís as slippery and glows like ice - looks brand new and runs like it also. Turns head everywhere I go. Why do I do this? Because the car blesses people and I like to bless people. Whoís going to stop me? If God is for me, who can be against me?! Now guess what Iím doing? I am doing this teaching. I keep moving. Got it? Later, I relax - thatís important also. Letís get back to that man who wastes time by his or her own free will.
He coveteth greedily all the day long: -- Proverbs 21: 26a
What does he do all the day long? He looks at what everyone has and he wants it - even though he wonít work for it. He, BY HIS OWN FREE WILL, refuses to use his hands to do any work. He covets all day long. What a miserable existence.
Here is what results when a slothful and lazy person tries to accomplish something by lazy methods.
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 was thereof broken down. -- Proverbs 24: 30, 31
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. -- Proverbs 24: 33, 34
There you have it. This will never happen to an ambitious person living by Godís Word. That person will manifest the more than abundant life. There are many more references to a lazy, time-wasting person in Proverbs. We will go over a few more.
As a door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. -- Proverbs 26: 14
Check out some of these chapters in Proverbs by yourself. I believe the point has been made. Wasting time, being lazy and slothful is a sin. If youíre having this opportunity in your life, you can change it by your own free will. You can change your life. Itís up to you. Make the right decision and keep moving in the right direction.
There are many devices in a manís heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. -- Proverbs 19: 21