CHRISTIAN NEGLIGENCE 8-25-13
Jeremiah 48:10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully….”
The word “deceitfully” would be better understood if we considered the definition of the Hebrew word “rem-ee-yaw'”, which is: to delude, to fool others about the work; to cheat on the job, or to betray the work of the Lord which is by doing something treasonable or disloyal, to be remiss in doing the work of the Lord; working deceitfully, lying about it; falsely claiming to be a worker, working with fakeness, working carelessly with slackness, slothfulness on the job, being negligent, NOT doing God’s work which we are expected to do.
Although I am pulling this statement out of its context, it does no injustice to it. The LORD addressed this to the Jews but it pertained to the people of Moab to explain the reasons for the coming curse of judgment and punishment upon Moab, Jeremiah 48:42-44 And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD. 43 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD. 44 He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.”
Here it has reference to the vengeance to be taken on Moab, and denounces a curse on that soldier(s) who failed to do his duty in the most thorough and terrible manner. No pity, no motive of any kind, was to lead them to spare the doomed nation. But whilst such dread work may be at times the work of the Lord, the expression more commonly points to that which is spiritual, and tends to man's highest good. In the NT Epistles we have constant reference to the work of the Lord in this happier sense.
We are THINKING today about the Slackness of service by Christians everywhere, but especially those who attend our church. Exactly what are we doing to serve the Lord?
Now don’t look at any of your fellow friends in the pews around you to judge them whether or not they are negligent serving the Lord. This is not about them, it is about YOU, US, OUR CHRUCH MEMBERS & attendees.
Let us each examine our own selves, “What am I doing that can be construed to be a true admissible kind of “service” for the Lord Jesus Christ? Can we name even one thing? (Selah)
This is important because our text makes clear the mind of the LORD concerning those of US who DO NOT COMMIT WITH OUR WHOLE HEART TO DO the WORK HE COMMANDS HIS FOLLOWERS TO DO. "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently."
We may derive from this extreme instance a most forcible argument against any kind of slack service in the work of our Lord. If such slackness could deserve such a curse in OT times, how much more that incriminates us of the NT times who are guilty of neglecting Christian works of obedience, faith and service of love to our Savior and to our church!
I. WHAT ARE SOME INDICATIONS OF NEGLEGANT SERVICE.
1. Negative goodness. Negative goodness is when Great care is made to avoid all forms of impure conduct, don’t cuss, smoke, talk filthy, do drugs or alcohol, etc., and that is a good thing; but when coupled together with a reluctance to make any sacrifices for Jesus or to put forth any exertion to do right things, good things, things worthy of recognition and rewards for serving Him, is pure and simple negligence. God is displeased with that.
2. Working at half power. The service that is rendered does not come up to the level of the requirement nor to the measure of one’s ability. It is service done in a shallow, disconnected, half our brain in it, style.
II. WHAT ARE SOME CAUSES OF SLACK SERVICE?
1. Worldliness. The clay of selfishness is mingled with the strong metal of devotion. A man would serve God and mammon. He tries to do the work of God with one hand, while he advances his own interest with the other. But no work for God is acceptable which is not done with both hands.
2. Unbelief in our own individual importance in the work to be done when considered with the whole scope of things as done by all Christians who are involved. It is the thought that plenty of other Christians are doing a much better job than what my small effort would contribute. This paralyzes much of the workers from doing a better job, more I am persuaded, than we are willing to admit. God won’t miss our few works of service; God is too busy, He will not notice that we are idle while the fields are white unto harvest. He loves us and will not judge us for our failures to do the work. Hey, no wonder the service of some Christians is so feeble. They’ve excused themselves from service, but nevertheless want rewards when they get to heaven.
3. Lack of devotion. The service of the hands may be given without the love of the heart. This mechanical work is a poor, spiritless thing. It is love and love only that can inspire a service of unwearyingly vigor.
4. Cowardice. There is a fear to do something new or difficult. We pity this for its weakness. We should condemn it as wicked. The servant of Christ must be willing to suffer all inconveniences for his Lord who suffered and died for him. "Be thou faithful unto death."
5. Mere inactivity. Some people are habitually tardy and dilatory. They may be lazy by nature and should learn to resist these tendencies as temptations to unfaithfulness.
III. WHAT ARE THE EVILS OF SLACK SERVICE? This is no slight failure which needs to be gently rebuked. The curse of God lies upon it. "Cursed be he," etc.
1. Negligence is a very damaging characteristic. It ruins our testimony of love for Jesus. We are God's servants, and bound by ties of spiritual birth and of gratitude for saving us.
2. Slack service is likely to result in a fruitless Christian life unless we wake up. Eph 5:14 “… Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” If we steer the ship of our life carelessly, we may suffer shipwreck.Few or No rewards at the Christian judgment! 1Tim 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:”
3. It injures the man who works negligently. Our manner of work reacts upon ourselves and the church where we attend where we may or not be members. Indifferent service produces coldness, lethargy, low spirituality, dead services with no enthusiasm! Some churches have such formal ritualistic services which are so cold you could ice skate on them. Membership at those places is falling apart. Hear this quote from a Southern Baptist source, Harold Vaughn: A group of SBC leaders consulted with a prominent independent pastor. They were seeking advice on ways to reduce the number of young people leaving church after high school graduation. Reportedly, they estimated they were losing around 93% of their students while perceiving that the independents were losing only 73% of their young people. Seven in ten evangelical young people ages 18-30 stop attending church by age 23 according to one survey. ” Hear this new article from the Paul Prather’s observances.
IV. WHEN IS THE WORK OF THE LORD DONE DECEITFULLY OR WITH NEGLIGENCE?
1. When it is not done thoroughly. When we shirk our work; do no more than we can help; get away from it as fast as we can. And how much of the "work" is thus done! Evidently counted a drudgery rather than a delight. Do we not all know that there is danger of such working?
2. When it is not done sincerely from the heart. How questionable the motive may be which leads people to engage in the work of the Lord! It is not done out of live, but out of custom to do something; a way to receive the praise of men; the fear of reproach if they don’t; a sting of conscience of guilt; the hope of an earthly gain, etc. These and such as these may crowd out the only right and sincere motive—the love of Christ. All others make us more or less hypocrites, and can find no acceptance of the Lord in the great day. But is there no peril from such motives? We know there is.
3. When the work is not done earnestly; when our heart is not in our work. When it is not laid hold of, as it should be, "with both hands earnestly," but, as it were, with one of the fingers. Some work like that; others as with one hand; others, indeed, with both hands, but slowly, loosely, not earnestly. Scripture says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Only such as obey that Word are sincere workers.
4. When it is done hypocritically. In the days of sore persecution there was but little chance of any Christian serving the Lord hypocritically; however, when Christianity gained in popularity there was real peril of persons taking up with the Lord's work in order to further, not the work of the Lord, but their own worldly gain. The most popular church in town is where all the business people go to scratch each other’s backs! What they do is mostly pretence. God keep us all that!
V. THE SEVERITY WITH WHICH THE LORD LOOKS UPON HIS WORK DONE DECEITFULLY. "Cursed be he," etc. (ver. 10). Now, why this severity?
1. It is an insult to God. It is as good as saying to him that his work does not deserve true labor; that it is of so little importance that any little effort will do for it. What could be a greater affront to God?
2. He knowsThe work is so great and urgent that it is traitorous NOT to engage in it. What do we say of the watchman sleeping at his post? Of all who betray their trust or neglect it?
3. He knows that examples of such negligence is contagious. How many a young servant of Christ is hurt by the poor influence of professed older servants of Christ who are guilty of that which is here denounced! Such disloyal acts demoralize many in the army of the Lord.
4. He knows It renders the work itself far more difficult. For the world sees clearly and judges keenly those who say they do the work of the Lord. They know what that work is, what it professes to aim at, what the interests involved in it. But they who do that work deceitfully cause others to laugh at all such work, to disbelieve all its claims, and to refuse more stoutly than ever to surrender their hearts to it. Is this the cause that atheism is increasing and the church declining? 1 Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” Serious question: Have LETHARGIC CHRISTIANS CAUSED THIS? ? ?
5. Some such negligent workers deceive their own hardened hearts, and keep themselves in a fatal slumber, from which there is no waking. Never has Satan a firmer hold on a person than when he can get him to merely THINK he is saved because of a decision made, perhaps as a child, but struggle with it his whole adult life doing the work of the Lord deceitfully without any passion; without any conviction; without any joy.
He hopes that he is all right, that his work was good enough, but dies without an assurance of heaven in his heart, and is not undeceived till, to his awful amazement, he hears the Lord say to him and to all such, "I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity."
VI. OUR SAFEGUARDS AGAINST SUCH SIN.
1. Solemn recollection and pondering of God's severe anger against it.
2. And chiefly by continually seeking and cherishing in our hearts that love of Christ which the Holy Spirit creates and maintains there, and which alone, but ever, makes all our work sincere, acceptable, effectual, and true.
3. This curse is a solemn warning. The evils that necessitate it should terrify us from incurring it.
4. "We are not our own; we are bought with a price." Even when we do our best we are unprofitable servants. Solemn voices of time and eternity bid us "work while it is day." "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
5. Our Christian service is no profitless treadmill drudgery. It is for the good of mankind. The call in the text was to execute wrath; ours is to do deeds of mercy. The world in its darkness, its misery, its sin, cries loud for the Christian mission of consolation and redemption. Can we sleep while such calls pierce our ears?
6. Consider the constraining love of Christ. He died for us; he only asks that we shall live for him. But the least we can do is to live faithfully, earnestly, and devotedly, serving the Saviour with all earnest zeal.
7. There is an heavenly example: Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Conc: Think about this. Here is a great work of judgment, entrusted to the hands of men. Jehovah effects such works either through operations of his own or through agents to whom he give the commands. What he has done himself is sufficiently illustrated in many OT visitations. But men have also been called to visit upon others their iniquity in a solemn and thorough way. That men have made the command of God a pretext for the greatest cruelties, and for indiscriminate slaughter on an extensive scale, does not in the least alter the fact that such commands have been given, given out of the greatest wisdom and with the best results.
Every nation reckons that the temporal life of its subjects is at its disposal; they must be ready to serve with life or in death, as may be required. And shall not the God of all the earth dispose of temporal life according as his all-comprehending wisdom sees may be best for the whole world and for all ages to come?
Okay, may I say to the self righteous critics of the things God did when He destroyed nations in OT History. I speak now of Mr. Phil Greer of Frankfort, Ky., who wrote critically against Gideons handing out Bibles to school children because of its accounts of the killing of the first born in Egypt and other accounts of destruction like Sodom & Gomorrah and Joshua’s conquest of the promised land.
I say, have we not witnessed atrocities in our own times which involved the killings of both children and adults, but were reacted against by the rest of the world for the good of all peoples? Should the world have allowed Germany and its Adolf Hitler to continue the quest for a super race of Germans by killing all the Jews and conquering the world? Or should the world stand by and allow Muslims extremists to essentially do the same as Hitler and rule the world for the religion of Islam? Or should we allow Iran to destroy Israel and wipe them off the face of the earth? I say NOT.
It needs to be always borne in mind that the Word of God requiring severity and suffering is only a part of God's work. We shrink from it through mere horror of the pain inflicted, but there is another large sphere of work where there is plain benefit, where we have to make no one suffer, where we are contributors to something positive. The husbandman is not forever plucking up weeds; his main work is to sow good seed and reap it.
"Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully" is a word that has its correspondence in Paul's remark, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel."
Jesus put his servants through an exacting discipline, a self-revealing one, in order that they might do his work thoroughly, uprooting all evil, getting down to proper foundations, making no compromises, ready for all persecutions.
They who, after preparation and warning and putting their hands to the work, yet do that work with negligent hands, cannot wonder if God should in due time make manifest his anger with them for their heedlessness and failures to do as commanded. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Are any of us doing the work of the Lord neglectfully? Which means we’re not doing it at all. Or is this text a challenge sufficient enough to put our hands to the plow and not look back? Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” ARE WE FIT? IF WE ARE, WE MUST SHOW IT BY THE GOOD WORK OF A CHURCH LIFE AND PERSONAL LABOR FOR HIM.
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