Sermon: Idle hands Summary: As we approach the summer, we need to keep in mind that spiritual idleness in our lives can cause discontent and unhappiness, so it is best to seek to serve God and others and bring the joy of God into our lives to empower and encourage us and ultimately to please God. Know: We should never take a vacation from being a servant of the Lord because not only is it about who we are, it is also about what we do. Feel: Motivation to seek the Lord in ministering to others Do: Reflect on your attitude toward "time off" and what time off means as a disciple of Christ. After identifying pitfalls and dangers related to time off, list and discuss ways time off can enhance or be utilized to be a better servant of the Lord. Text: Ecclesiastes 4:5 Scripture Reading: Prov 6:6-11 Intro: 1. Summer nearly here, reminds me of article Justin Wells wrote about vacation a. He was still a new Christian at the time b. Spoke of the time off he would have c. Emphasizes that we never take time off from being Christians d. We never take time off from worshipping, serving, telling about Jesus, 2. Want to talk about trap of idleness, because some think of it as highest ideal a. We invent things to make life easier to have more leisure time b. Christians often think of Heaven as a place to do nothing c. However, that is not the picture we have in scripture - Those who die & go to meet Lord serve him day & night, Rev 7.15 - Text says we will rest from our "labors" not from "serving" (()) - In other words, the curse of laborious work will be lifted - Mankind was created to serve, to tend the garden -- Original sin and the curse is what made work "laborious" -- Work not a bad thing, God himself a God that works for us 3. So we need to beware of idleness I. Idleness can be destructive A. Idleness can cause great harm to you and those around you B. Some scriptural explanations on this 1. Can be self-destructive (Eccl 4:5) a. Fool folds his hands & consumes own flesh b. Folds hands, hammock day in and day out c. Too idle to get up and provide for self d. Find that something is literally eating at you -- you are! 2. Can destroy those around you a. (1 Tim 5:13) - Become busy bodies when idle b. (2 Sam 11:1f) - David became the worst kind of busy body - Not out fighting with his men - Watching other men's wives bathe - Commit adultery, has husband put to death to hide it - Marries widow, but punishment is he loses the child 3. Can cause life to gradually fall apart (Eccl 10:18) a. Roof leaks, house sags b. Life will eventually cave in on you C. ILL: Proverb - "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" 1. I remember teachers in High School talking about us teens 2. Said there was no reason to be out at 3 am hanging out a. If you were, you were looking for trouble, or it found you b. I did so once, found out people that hung out 3 am - People I hanging out with often no job, drink - Often in trouble with police, fights, etc. etc. c. He was right, just asking for trouble 3. I didn't continue to hang out with them, why? a. I would like to say it was by my choice b. When I got home, my Dad was furious c. My Dad usually does not get mad, when he does it is bad 4. It a good thing, because I could have gotten in trouble like them D. There are many ways idleness can be destructive 1. Need to remember that it is in Idleness that Satan can do some of his best work 2. When you get time off, good time to rest, but not to be idle a. Resting is not the same things as idleness b. Resting has a purpose, idleness does not 3. Rest is good, idleness is not 4. **Rest helps you rejuvenate strength, idleness does not... II. Idleness makes you weak A. When rest becomes idleness, rather than rejuvenation, you become weak B. There are different kinds of strength 1. Emotional Strength (Neh 8:8-12) a. Emotions are not bad - God himself is a God of emotion - We created as emotional beings in God's image - Emotions can strengthen or weaken us - Emotions are part of our health and illness b. Like everything else, sin has corrupted our emotions c. It usually during times of activity that emotions come out - When patience challenged, when expectations are missed, when dealing with difficult people/ situations - Opportunity to look at emotions & evaluate selves -- Why did I react in the way I did? -- What did I learn about myself? -- How do I need to pray about this? -- What do I need to do next time? Etc. d. But if we are idle, little there will be little opportunity for emotional growth 2. Moral strength (Heb 5:12-14) a. Speaks of having senses "trained" to discern good & evil b. Training involves learning and doing, "practice" - Like knowing not to touch fire, it becomes second nature to know if something is good or evil c. Idleness dulls and weakens your senses - What about sex before marriage? Drunkenness? Abusive speech? Revenge? Lying? Stealing? Homosexual relationships? - Some Christian people think some of these are okay - They are ALL wrong, sin, and separates from God - Without any training, may end up in eternal destruction d. How to you grow in moral strength? - Passage mentions "teaching" -- Read the Bible -- Talk about it with a teacher or mentor -- Talk about it with your brothers and sisters - Passage mentions "practice" -- Put into practice what you read 3. Intellectual Strength (Rom 12:2) - Renewing of your mind a. A strong faith is connected to a strong mind b. The world constantly throwing godless philosophies and ideas at us every day - It comes in such subtle ways - Through text books, entertainment, music - Filtered through friends, family neighbors - Intellectual strength helps you to evaluate them c. Intellectual idleness dulls your intellect and allows wrong ideas to shape you d. How do you grow in intellectual strength? - Read the Bible regularly and interact with it - Read good Christian books, journals, & other literature - If you can, take classes from Christian colleges or schools (Some are online) - Interact with any message that comes to you -- In books - How does this square with Christianity? -- In movies and entertainment - What message is this portraying, how does it square with scripture? -- In the classroom - How does this line up with truth? - Talk about issues of life with trusted Christian people 4. All of this makes up spiritual strength (1 Cor 9:24-27) a. Through discipline of both heart and mind, we grow strong b. Spiritual strength includes intellectual, moral, and emotional strength c. In all of this training, our focus is on our Lord d. (Phil 4:13) - I can "do" all things through Christ - It is through Christ, our strength comes from him - All of our training based on his truth, ethics, teaching - If we train with Christ, will grow strong in all things C. ILL: Never be veal Christians 1. Veal is a calf that is never allowed to move a. Put in a small confining cage b. Can't even stand up c. Eats, but does not move or do anything 2. Why? Calf that is not allowed to move remains tender for a. Calf gets bigger and weaker at the same time b. Can't stand on his own feet c. Is at the mercy of all that is around him 3. Same thing happens to a Christian who is idle a. Grow weaker and weaker b. Won't be able to stand when the time comes c. Will be at Satan's mercy D. So we need to avoid all kinds of idleness 1. Christians need to be among the emotionally, morally, and intellectually strongest people in the world 2. We need to engage in practices that will strengthen us 3. Remember that rest is good, just as sleep is good and strengthens us 4. But idleness is bad, it weakens us III. Idleness can rob your joy A. Some think if we had nothing to do, would be happy 1. This is not true 2. The greatest joy comes in fulfilling God's will B. Look at what scripture says about this 1. In Ecclesiastes: A man who tried to find joy in the wrong places a. One of the ways was through indulging in every kind of pleasure b. Included hedonism, leisure, etc. c. Conclusion: Fear God and keep his commands d. *Have a lot of negative examples, any positive ones?... 2. Example of non-idleness: Thessalonian Church a. (1 Thess 2:19; 3:6; 4:1; 4:10) b. All Paul had to do was say keep on keeping on! c. There is no hint a rebuke in this epistle d. 1:3 - The reason - they were not idle 3. Solution to Corinthian church with all their problems: a. Lots of instructions, including a big one love. b. How does love express itself? - Here is one way- (1 Cor 16:1-2) - What is one of the last thing Paul tells them? - Ministry! Help poor saints c. Work together on ministry to bring them together! 4. From the beginning, we were created to serve a. God didn't create man to be idle in the garden b. He was to serve God in peace, joy, and fulfillment c. God' original design before sin came into the world: - For man to find meaning & fulfillment in serving God - God never intended for us to be idle C. ILL: Proverb from Dad - The most discontent often do the least 1. I grew up in a church that had some discontented people 2. As general rule, seemed the less they did, they louder they were 3. One man in particular, will call him "Al" a. Not participate in anything, except meetings to blast people b. A lot of negative energy seemed to revolve around him c. Always point out "problems," but never worked toward solutions d. Even when genuine problems resolved, he still wasn't happy - Source of his content was within himself - Idleness - It was up to him to resolve within himself 4. ILL: Girl once ask grandfather - "Is that donkey a Christian?" a. "Why no. What made you think that donkey a Christian?" b. She answered, "Because he has such a long face!" c. These words should be oxymorons for Christians - Sour, gloomy, discontent, contentious D. So, if I find I am discontent 1. I at least need take a step back and ask myself some questions a. Am I involved, or am I idle? b. Do I look for problems, or for opportunities? c. Do I complain, or do I jump in and help? 2. From the beginning we were created to serve, not to be idle a. When we fulfill our purpose, contentment naturally follows b. Joy is found in "doing" God's will Concl: 1. Idleness truly is the Devil's workshop a. Our Lord has not been idle, but working for us b. He loves us, and therefore sent his son to die for us (inv) c. Don't be idle today, but respond to the Gospel d. If you already have... 2. Remember this when you are blessed with time off... a. Rest because you need the rest b. But don't squander opportunities to grow, minister and serve c. Whether it is vacation time, retirement, or disability, see it as an opportunity 3. ILL: One of the We Care Cadre, Lou a. First met him in Connecticut - Was homeless, limited income - Came from Trumbull to Waterbury to check out the Campaign b. Through a series of circumstances, he able to be full time Cadre - No car, RV, home, so little living expenses needed - Travel's by Greyhound from campaign to campaign - Lives as a traveling evangelist in the homes of members - Very joyful, considers this a great blessing from God to be able to do this c. Still just as homeless as he was before, but not really homeless - He has a home in Heaven - He has a family, God's family d. God is doing great things through him - He is a great, positive encouragement to people wherever he goes - God is using him to bring many, many people to Christ 3. I am not a sage, but let's see if I can add to this little proverb: Idle hands are the devils workshop Hands that minister are the Lord's delight 4. What kind of hands do you have?