July 25, 2014.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Just a few minutes ago I had a realization. As with all Christians, I struggle in my walk with Christ often. No one is perfect, and I definitely fit that bill. But I think there is a really good way to fight against sin that we don’t often think about.
There are several passages like the opening verse in that they warn against idleness. This is an admonition that I have in the past just read right over and not paid that much attention to, mostly because I stay pretty busy, at least during the semesters. However, Paul seems to think that this concept of sitting around not really doing any work is significant enough to say several times:
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. ”
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-12)
“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.
(1 Timothy 5:13)
Have you ever heard the saying “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”? My mother used to tell me this a lot, and I agree completely. The times that I struggle with sin most is when I am bored, have nothing to do or am simply not doing something I need to be doing. Idleness is almost like just inviting the devil in to play. I have nothing better to do… might as well have some fun. I think there are two sides to this coin that we can use to help in our fight against sin.
First, we must realize that we are not doing anything productive, we are more susceptible to sin. The devil knows how to play the game, he’s been doing it for a long time. Just as in Paul’s admonitions above, to remedy this we need to find ways to keep ourselves busy; keep our hands at work. I am typically very good at staying busy out of choice, a least when I have school. I have noticed that when I am busy, I simply don’t have much time to sin. That is not to say that I am immune to sin, but it does give a defense against temptation.
The second side of the coin is to realize that sin takes time, and time is valuable. I cannot tell you how much time I have simply wasted by partaking in sin. I have even thought about the time I’m wasting while I’m doing it. In this age, time is a precious commodity. The saying goes “time is money,” and I think there is a lot of truth in that. Thus if you are wasting time, it is much like you are wasting money. What better deterrent from doing something you know you shouldn’t do anyway than to realize that you are wasting valuable resources by doing it. Again, I’m not saying this will completely shield you from sin, but I do think it can help if actively practiced.
Paul knew that idleness was a problem. He knew that we are called to a life of work, as it has been from the beginning. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, what did he tell them to do?
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
God has given us a job to do from the beginning. We were not created to be idle, and idleness leads to sin. May we all find work to do so that we not be burdened with dormancy.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Kings 19, I Thessalonians 5, II Thessalonians 3, II Timothy 5.
Let us all do the work of the Lord.