Dec 3, 2017 – The Problem of Idleness
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: 1 Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (ESV)
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Idleness (v14) is a problem (whether in the blatant form of laziness, or the more subtle and common form of staying busy with unimportant things).
I) How it happens
- T Oden: past/guilt, future/anxiety, present/boredom
- Genesis 3:10-12 – guilt and fear lead to avoiding and blaming
II) Why it is a problem
- emptiness leads to meaninglessness
- 2 Thessalonians 3:11 “not busy at work, but busybodies” – our actions become problematic rather than productive
- deeper than “what is my work?”: “who do I work for?”
III) What to do about it
a) admonish, encourage, help – community life
b) be patient
c) look to God (vv23-24)
d) courage and help
Questions for Reflection
- What does idleness look like in your life? What things do you gladly and willingly do, and what things require a lot of effort and motivation to get started with (or persevere with)? Is your scheduled characterized by too little to do? Is much of your time actually packed with distractions?
- What are your greatest fears? What do you most want to avoid? How do these bigger fears play into daily decisions?
- How does guilt and shame weaken you so you experience doing things as particularly hard? How can your motivations not be tainted by negative views of yourself that you attach to them?
- What leisure activities do you find healthy and restorative? Are you intentional about getting rest? Are you filling your leisure time with being busy with things that don’t leave you rested?
- The gospel is about a changed past (guilt dealt with at the cross) and a hopeful future (Jesus coming to make all things new). What hinders you from experiencing change in the gospel? Where is this Christianity reality not connecting with your daily life? How do you develop a perspective that everything you do is done for God?
- How can a Christian community (like a home group) be a context for admonishing, encouraging and helping one another? Which of these 3 is weakest or missing in your relationships?
- What will it look like to live bravely this week? What can you commit to doing with the realization that you will have to push against some fears?
- How can you get help? What do you need to take responsibility for, but are too weak on your own to do it all? How can God be your strength? How can people help you do what you need to do (without passing the responsibility itself on to them)?
Prayer of Confession
O Lord, our God, we do not serve you daily with enthusiasm, gratitude and confidence. Instead we set our hearts on things that can’t satisfy us, and we suffer from the emptiness of having let our fears and laziness influence us. Instead of taking responsibility for ourselves, we blame others, including you, because that is easier than admitting we are weak and fainthearted. Forgive us for our negligence, and for devoting our time and energies to things that only distract us from an emptiness that can only be filled by you. Forgive the guilt of our sin, and sanctify us completely – we look to you in faith to keep our spirits, souls and bodies blameless. Thank you that you are faithful. Amen.