We cannot be a lazy vessel when it comes to being a vessel of God.
(NOTE: Scroll to the bottom to watch today’s sermon.)
Laziness – if you’re like me, that word probably makes you cringe because nobody wants to be called lazy. It brings back memories from my childhood when my dad would go on and on about laziness. He would say, “don’t drag your feet” while I would be walking because that was a sign of laziness. Honestly, I chuckle at my reflection on all of those lessons against being lazy.
I imagine that all of you were probably raised the same way. Your parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts were probably a lot like mine in that laziness was not tolerated.
I remember mom making us sit and diligently get our homework finished before we could go outside to play, or watch TV, or play video games. Pop would always seem to find some kind of work for us to do. I remember one time me and my brother just wanted to play outside on what was a beautiful day and he had us out in the backyard moving wood! On quite a few occasions he would say that you could tell a lot about a man’s work ethic by how he kept his yard. He would come home from work and then spend a great deal of time working in the yard during the summer and then chopping up firewood in the winter.
So, if your parents, uncles, aunts, or grandparents were anything like my folks, then you were most likely raised to dread ever being called lazy. I imagine that work ethic you learned as a child has stuck with you into your adulthood and throughout your life, right? Some of us work hard in the workplace because that is all that we know to do. Then, after work, some of us come home and when we should probably be resting, we find some kind of work to do around the house. The idea being that hard work gets rewarded.
A Look at the Ant
When we look at my key verse for today, we will see that Solomon had the diligent worker in mind when he spoke of the sluggard.
Now a sluggard is defined as a habitually lazy person. This kind of person is very content in life, but not in a good way. Some folks are content in life because they have worked hard and have reaped the reward of their hard work. The habitually lazy person that Solomon is speaking of here tends not to be driven to move forward in life, and most of the time they simply just don’t care. They show little to no interest in reaching a goal, and therefore, they put forth no effort.
The truly sad part about the sluggard is that the sluggard believes him or herself to actually be wise in their way. So, the sluggard will rarely ever change their way which is truly sad. If you have ever confronted a lazy person, especially in the workplace, they will look you in your eyes and tell you that they “are good” and that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
From reading this passage of scripture (Prov. 6:6-11), I imagine that Solomon had probably dealt with a habitually lazy person(s) before. I believe he encountered some that felt they were very wise. So, with them feeling so wise, Solomon, a man of great wisdom, felt moved to teach a wise lesson to the habitually lazy person. He said to them, “look to the ant, consider her ways and be wise.”
Now, I find it very interesting that Solomon chose to use the lowly ant to teach the person that believes he or she knows everything a lesson. The Lord often uses things that we don’t think highly of to teach us a valuable lesson. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “God has chosen the ‘foolish things of the world’ to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Cor. 1:27).”
The ways of the ant
Now we, mankind, are certainly very smart – the smartest creatures in the world. God created us in this way after all! In Genesis, at the creation of man, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Gen. 1:26).”
We certainly have dominion, don’t we? We have our fancy clothes, cars, houses, and our technology. When it comes to animals we eat them, hunt them for game, and make them our pets – they aren’t on our level. I chuckle now and then at how the dogs look at us using our devices because they twist their heads sideways and look at us trying to figure out our craziness. Now animals may not be as smart as we are but God did create them in a way that they have certain instincts that are superior to our intellect.
So, as we consider the way of the ant, what do we know about them? Off the bat, I believe the first thing we will think of is just how busy they are, right? Ants are one of the most busiest, if not the most busiest creatures in the world. I honestly had to google whether or not ants actually ever sleep because I have never seen a sleeping ant! They are very diligent in their work and, I tell you, they diligently work off of instinct – meaning they do it without much thought.
Solomon tells the habitually lazy person that the ant has no captain, overseer, or ruler to tell it to get to work (Prov. 6:7). Now, the sluggard would always have to have someone in his or her ear telling them to get to work – that’s how lazy they are. The little ant doesn’t need anybody to yell at it about what to do. Though it may work off of instinct, Solomon shows us they are wise in their ways.
Solomon tells us that the little ant is always out and about gathering (Prov. 6:8). In the summer, the ant is busy gathering all of its food and storing it up for when the winter rolls around. Where other insects die from cold weather, the ant doesn’t because it is able to survive off of what it has stored up because of its diligent hard work and preparation. Should the ant, for whatever reason, not be able to store up its resources in preparation for winter, it would not survive during the winter.
There is a lesson from the ant that we must learn and I believe the ant points out a glaring problem of today’s Christian.
A Great Sin of the Christian
We have seen that the ant is able to live another day because of its “diligent hard work” and “preparation”. This leads me to a question that I want to ask all of you today — Are you living your days in a manner so that you can live to see the next day? Some of us will answer that question with a quick yes, right?
When we look at what Solomon writes about laziness throughout Proverbs, we could say that he saw it as a major crime. He wrote, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich (Prov. 10:4). Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread (Prov. 20:13).”
Now, it is easy for us to consider what Solomon said in both of those proverbs and think in worldly terms. As you have often heard me say when preaching or teaching from Proverbs, there is always a spiritual implication to each proverb that we must try to understand. The implication here being that the child of God cannot be lazy spiritually. You will see Solomon say very plainly in another proverb, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich (Prov. 13:4).”
So, I want to ask you that question again, but with spiritual implications in mind: Are you living your days in a manner so that you can live to see the next day? The next day that I am speaking of now is that eternal day which is fast approaching. Sadly, many of us go about living in this day as if that day is never coming! However, I want all of us to know and understand that we are always just a breath away from seeing that day!
Lesson learned from the ant
The believer should always be living each day diligently working in service of the Lord in preparation for that day that is fast approaching. Again, let us remember what we learned last week – God uses us for a higher plan and purpose to serve each other. As the ant has a colony and they live for one another, we as Christians, are part of a colony (that is mankind) and we ought to be living for one another and getting each other prepared for the day that is coming.
It is recorded in the gospels that Jesus said to those who would follow after Him, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:34-36).”
One of the great sins of Christians today is the sin of laziness. What I mean by this is that we are not diligently working hard as a vessel of the Lord in the service of ourselves and in the preparation of others for the day that is coming. Again, remember what happens to the ant when it is not prepared for winter.
Scripture tells the believer repeatedly to be diligent in the faith of serving the Lord. I want to direct your attention to what Paul wrote to the Romans on this thought. He wrote, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Rom. 12:10-13).”
Now pay very close attention to what Paul said in that passage of scripture. He first speaks of ministering to each other, which we know is how God uses us as a vessel. When Paul speaks of being kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, he is speaking of ministering. When he says, in honor giving preference to one another, and distributing to the needs of the saints, Paul, again, is speaking of the Lord’s higher plans and purpose for us – ministering to each other.
Active for God
I want you to also notice that Paul said we should be fervent in our spirit, patient in tribulation, and steadfast in prayer. To be fervent in our spirit speaks to being zealous or burning hot. Now, a habitually lazy person in the spirit would not burn hot in their spirit, right? Their spirit would be ice cold – which is to say not diligently active – for the Lord.
I wonder today, have we become habitually lazy in our spirit? I often feel like today’s Christian is not as active in the faith as we ought to be. How often are we doing good for all of those around us? How often are we being kindly affectionate to others with brotherly love, giving preference and showing honor to others, and helping others?
How active are we truly in the faith of being in service for the Lord? This goes back to my thought last week, are we allowing the Lord to use us in this manner? Many of us started out very active in our faith – like a new employee would. Yet, over time, many of us became very complacent in the activity of our faith – we became lazy.
Some of us began to slow down in our activity when we slowed down in our prayer life first. Others of us slowed down being in the word of God and studying His word. A lot of us have slowed down in our praise and worship of God. In all of us this slowing down, today’s Christian, began to move away from treating others with grace and love which is the calling of all of those who profess to be a child of the Lord.
The danger in slowing down, not being fervent in the faith, is that when you slow down too much, you eventually come to a halt. I often worry about today’s Christian having slowed down so much in the faith that they have come to a stop and because they have stopped, they have become habitually lazy. They are now like the fine china that never gets used in grandma’s china cabinet that I mentioned in my sermon last week. Many of us are spiritually asleep, resting in a hammock and content with our profession of faith, instead of actively participating in the activity of faith.
How long will you sleep
I want to direct your attention back to Proverbs 6 because Solomon had a couple of questions for the sluggard that I briefly want to take a look at. He asks the sluggard, “How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep (Prov. 6:9)?” He is essentially asking the habitually lazy person, how long are going to keep being lazy? When are you going to get up and do something?”
This is a question that I pose today to all of those who have become lazy spiritually. How long are you going to slumber? When will you rise from your sleep? As true worshipers and followers of Christ, we cannot slumber long, we cannot sleep long — we cannot be habitually lazy. The habitually lazy person will respond to this question, “A little sleep, a little slumber (Prov. 6:10).” In other words, the habitually lazy person is responding, “let me sleep (or rest) a bit longer” and they will never get up.
Solomon warns the sluggard of what is to come should they remain content in their laziness. He said, “So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man (Prov. 6:11).” In other words, the sluggard becomes poorer and poorer slowly over time until there is nothing left and they become helpless.
Spiritually speaking, when the believer is diligently allowing the Lord to use them for His higher plans and His higher purposes, he or she is building up their riches in the heavenly kingdom. The spiritual sluggard is not building towards anything but eternal poverty.
Wake Up From Sleeping
My final question for those who are habitually lazy in their soul today is this: Are you ready to wake up from your slumber? There is much work to do, much building, and much preparation that must be done. Again, let us learn a powerful lesson from the ant today. We have work to do not only for ourselves but even for all of those around us so that we can all be fit and ready to be part of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom instead of ending up in spiritual poverty for all of eternity.
We should desire to be diligent in doing good. Am I saying we need to work until we drop? Absolutely not. Yet, we absolutely cannot become a habitually lazy person spiritually. Do you believe the Lord will ever use a habitually lazy person for His higher plans and His higher purpose? Absolutely not. So, let us wake up from our slumber and let us move out of our laziness.