It’s Sunday morning. After a long and tiring week, all you want to do is sleep in. Instead, you drag yourself out of bed, make coffee, beg God for the kids to sleep for at least a few more minutes so you can get much-needed silence. Then you remind yourself that you have to get ready for church. Don’t get me wrong, you have looked forward to church all week; it’s a refreshing, safe, Spirit-filled place with friends and an uplifting message in a discouraging world. It’s just that it can easily and quickly turn into another to-do.
Let’s be honest, how many of us have skipped church, giving excuses such as: the kids are getting sick; we’ll have family worship time instead; and we’re not volunteering this week, so it’s okay. Try doing that Monday through Friday: “Hey boss, I don’t feel like coming into work today; but it’s okay, I’ll make sure to think about my work today.” I don’t think your employment will last too long with an attitude like that.
We make empty promises with other Christian responsibilities, too: I’ll read an extra Bible chapter tomorrow; I’ll give to the next homeless person that really looks homeless; I’ll bring up Jesus to my unsaved family members when it’s less awkward [laugh out loud]. In our society, the unpleasant, condemning word “idleness” is disguised as positive, rewarding phrases such as “deserved rest,” “reality,” and “politically correct.” In 8th grade Science, I seem to remember a concept known as inertia – objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest stay at rest. Why is that any different with Spiritual growth and responsibility?
The truth is, anything of importance in our world needs to “do something” to survive, thrive, and operate correctly. In health care, we stress the importance of early mobility; getting up and moving around as soon as possible. What this does is prevent muscle atrophy, the wasting away of muscle from disuse. With technology and equipment with mechanical parts, it is important to use it often, or else the parts rust, stick, and go bad. In nature, if something that is alive ceases to carry out the actions that enable it to survive (eat, protect itself, reproduce, etc.), it will die.
The Bible tells us the same thing about faith. James 2:17 states, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” We CANNOT expect our faith to grow without working. We must put effort to increase our own spiritual knowledge, discipline, and passion; and we must demonstrate our faith by carrying out the responsibilities given to us by Jesus. Ecclesiastes 4:5 states, “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” How disappointing would it be for us to not live up to our created potential, and instead have “the stones…cry out [in praise]!” (Luke 19:40).
Let Us Rejoice!
There is hope, though. We have a Savior and Loving Father who is on our side! Philippians 1:6 provides that hope: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13 offers more hope: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” How do we keep from being idle? Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Jesus will not keep anything from you if you sincerely ask for it and it is in line with God’s perfect will. It is as simple as remaining in Jesus. You do your part, He will do His (which honestly, I have found is 99%; I only need to do the initial 1%). John 15:5 reiterates, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Like a root absorbs water and nutrients for the plant to survive, let us absorb knowledge and wisdom so our Spirit can flourish and reach its full potential in Christ.