Quotes Worth Remembering

Two quotes from this morning’s Times-Picayune jumped out at me, but for different reasons. The third quote is from Scripture and naturally, being the preacher that I am, I need to expound on it just a tad.

Gregg Williams is the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints football team. In this morning’s paper, he says, “I don’t look at my job like being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It’s more like being the warden of a penitentiary. And I say this in a nice way.”

I’m still smiling at that one. And can’t think of a single remark to make about it!

The Associated Press reports that as Congress moves forward in its investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel for ethics violations, he “trots out” his three-way defense.

His 3-way defense. Or maybe we could call it “3-D.”

1) I didn’t do it.

2) I did it but unintentionally.

3) Anything I did was the same thing the other lawmakers have done but without penalty.

Tell me if that doesn’t sound like you and me standing before the Almighty at Judgment. Making excuses. Pointing the finger. Justifying ourselves.

Third quote: “We desire…that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12)

Don’t be a slug. A snail. A sloth. (Choose your favorite lazy animal.) Let’s talk about this. It’s actually quite a problem among God’s people today.

The word translated “sluggish” is the Greek “nothros,” meaning slothful, indolent. It’s found here in Hebrews 6:12 and also in 5:11 where it’s generally translated “dull.” Literally, we’re told it means “sluggish in the ears.”

A slug is a snail. Those strange little animals get a bad rap for being the very definition of slow. I think it was Charles Haddon Spurgeon who said, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

Somewhere I read of a snail climbing a cherry tree. A friend asked him why, since there was no fruit on it. “There will be when I get up there,” the snail answered.

Laziness about spiritual things is a phenomenon of our times. We grasp any excuse to get out of our spiritual duties. Some personal need comes up or some unfortunate thing occurs at church, and we quit tithing. A great TV program is scheduled for tonight, so we’ll skip church. The friend across town needs a visit from me but I’ve had a hard day and I’m sure he would understand. I’m tired, so no Bible reading for tonight.

Sound familiar?

Somewhere in my library I have Henry Fairlie’s book “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Here’s what he had to say about sloth, or laziness.

Children are too idle to obey. Parents are too sluggish to command. Pupils are too lazy to work. Teachers are too indolent to teach. Priests are too slack to believe. Prophets are too morbid to inspire. Men are too indifferent to be men. Women are too heedless to be women. Doctors are too careless to care well. Shoemakers are too slipshod to make good shoes. Writers are too inert to write well. Street cleaners are too bored to clean streets. Shop clerks are too uninterested to be courteous. Painters are too feckless to make pictures. Poets are too lazy to be exact. Philosophers are too faint-hearted to make philosophies. Believers are too dejected to bear witness….

The writer of Hebrews recognizes that this laziness, this sluggish behavior, is causing problems in the Christian community. When God’s people are lazy, nothing gets done.

Ask any pastor or staff member about how hard it is to motivate the people in the pews for the harder tasks that need to be done.

“We desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

The solution is simpler than we would have thought. Instead of calling for a spiritual revival or even repentance, the Hebrews author tells us: Get up and do something. Start where you are. If you can’t work with the diligence you should, then imitate others who are doing a good job.

Funny thing about getting out of the house and doing something for the Lord. It primes the pump. You begin enjoying yourself and seeing the fruit, and getting excited.

Think of our will-power as the battery on your car. You do not have battery power enough to drive the car more than a few miles before it would be drained of energy and die. You have just enough battery to get the generator started. Then the battery has done its job; the engine takes over.

God has given you and me just enough will power to make a decision. I will arise and go to my Father and will say to Him, ‘Father, I have sinned…’

As an 11-year old, I learned something that has figured in my preaching ever since. Sitting on the next to last row in the far left corner of the church, while the congregation sang “O Why Not Tonight,” I was under deep conviction for my sin. Finally, I could take it no longer. I stepped out into the aisle to go to the altar and something happened. I only took the first step; all the others the Lord took for me.

That’s how He operates. It’s the perfect cure for laziness. Just get up and do something.

Try it. Let me know how it goes.

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