Is It Sinful to Use Profanity?

Is It Sinful to Use Profanity?

What differentiates one word from another – making one word a profane word while another is considered normative?  Why is one “four letter word” different from another one?  It’s not always based on the precise definition of a word.  Instead, it’s based on how that word has been used in the culture.

Profanity Abuses Vocabulary

Grammar matters.  How we employ vocabulary is important in spoken word conversations, social media conversations, and in more formal written forms.  The use of profanity often involves ripping a word out of its context and intended usage.  For instance, it’s possible to take a word intended to convey a really dark and horrid meaning and use it for something that’s far less worse than its original context.  This happens when people use the word hell in the improper manner.  When people say, “I had a hell of a time last night at the party” they’re intending to mean that they had a really good time.  We can be sure of one thing, hell will not be a fun or delightful place for anyone to find themselves.

To be damned is a really horrible thing.  To consider what it means to be damned by God is a bit overwhelming just by looking at the vocabulary words often associated with the judgment of God in Scripture (agony, darkness, fire, smoke, punishment, torment, weeping, gnashing of teeth, pain, and more).  To be damned by God is to be cut off and sentenced to the eternal flames of hell where a sovereign God unleashes His holy wrath upon guilty sinners.  Therefore, to use the word damn in a slang manner in response to accidentally spilling your glass of water at the supper table is to completely miss the true meaning of the word.  This misuse takes something like the damnation of sinners which is so woefully beyond comprehension and raises it up to the level of spilling a glass of water at the supper table.

One additional example would be the way in which people use the name of God in vain through common everyday conversations.  This is a common error that occurs when a person takes the name of God and flips it so that it’s used in a negative manner.  People do this often with the name of God.  When someone is frightened and they exclaim, “O Jesus, that scared the life out of me”— that individual is usually speaking to someone other than Jesus when making that statement.  In other words, when one friend makes that statement while speaking to another friend, the name of our Lord (a glorious name that’s above every name – Acts 4:12) is being improperly substituted as a slang term.  This same type of thing can show up in the use of text messages where people use OMG to refer to something really bad or really funny, when that certainly isn’t the proper usage of God’s name (Ex. 20:7).

Whatever your opinion is regarding the use of profanity, it’s clear that profane words often distort the proper definition and intended use of a word.  It would be wise to make sure we’re using vocabulary properly in order to preserve the true meaning of such words.

Profanity Provides a Cultural Identity

Beyond the abuse of vocabulary is the cultural identity that’s attached to the use of profanity.  This is where we move beyond morality to Christianity.  The followers of Christ have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of God’s grace (1 Pet. 2:9).  We should strive to base our lifestyle decisions on Scripture and move beyond the realm of cultural morality.  Therefore, when we teach our children to refrain from using swear words (cuss words, profanity), we typically try to teach them why based on Scripture—not just because mom and dad said it.

  • Christians should seek to be identified with Christ rather than the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Christians should not be people who use filthy or foolish language.  Notice that Paul places this this warning in the same context where he issues warnings against sexual immorality.  Ephesians 5:4 says, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
  • Christians should maintain a certain appearance that honors Christ.  Titus 2:10 says, “not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”  On this subject, see also 1 Thess. 5:21-22.
  • Christians should not be rude people.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Christians are called to build people up with language rather than tearing down with corrupt word choices.  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

In our home we have a profanity filter on our television that (most of the time) prevents foul language from entering our living room.  It’s not that Kari and I are seeking to be overly protective of our children or sheltering them from the real world.  In fact, the propensity to use foul language is certainly in our children from conception, they simply haven’t learned the grammar until they grow and develop their vocabulary.

From time-to-time, my children will tell us that one of their friends used a “bad” word.  We as parents try to explain why this is not wise and then point them in the right direction from a biblical context.  Our goal is not straight and narrow moralism.  Many people go to hell everyday who were morally decent and spoke with a clean tongue.  We want so much more for our children than acceptable morality.  We want them to grow to love Christ and to reflect the love and glory of Christ – not just with their worship and service, but also with their choice of vocabulary.  We want our children to pursue holiness rather than the crudeness of our culture.  While we know that the tongue cannot be tamed (Jm. 3:8), it’s our duty as Christians to exemplify a life that honors Christ, and that includes the way we speak.  We must remember, our choice of language reveals much about the contents of our heart (Lk. 6:45).

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Look Up, Listen Up, and Enjoy Life

Look Up, Listen Up, and Enjoy Life

This past Monday, I returned home from a lengthy trip to a remote section of the Colorado mountains.  I spent 12 days with my father and two other men on an elk hunting trip where we were packed high into the mountains by horseback, dropped off at 11,000 feet of elevation, and left there for the next 8 days to make camp and survive.  The entire process was challenging.  We hiked 7 miles up the mountain while the horses carried our gear.  We had to collect water from a nearby lake on top of the mountain and prepare it for consumption.  We had to cut firewood and use it in the wood burning stove to provide heat and for cooking.  Although I learned many lessons about life during this trip, I learned one important life-lesson—look up, listen up, and enjoy life for the glory of God.

One of the most challenging aspects of the trip was the fact that our only form of communication was an InReach GPS device.  It was capable of sending text messages, but we had no other form of communication.  No FaceTime, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Gmail, no Internet, no cell phones, and no politics.  We went the entire time without hearing the voices of our wives or children.  That, by far, was the most challenging part of this entire trip.  Although a true challenge, it was a good digital-detox.

What I noticed during our time together was that we spent time looking at one another in conversation without the constant barrage of interruptions that we have learned to tolerate in our connected culture.  When was the last time you considered the amount of time you spend looking down at a device rather than into the eyes of people in your presence?  When was the last time you carried on a conversation with people without being a distracted listener due to technology?

As our trip came to an end and we hiked back down the mountain, by the next morning we were within cell coverage once again.  Our phones started to ping cell towers and download all of the missed text messages and e-mails from the previous 10 days.  As we traveled 30+ hours across the United States back to Atlanta, I couldn’t help but notice the vast number of people on the road who were sitting in the passenger seat scrolling down social media outlets on their smart phones.  Many of these people were missing majestic mountain ranges and beautiful scenery (except for the time on I-70 through Kansas – not much to see there).  When was the last time you found yourself passing through beautiful mountains, interesting cities, or simply sitting at your family gathering staring at your phone rather than enjoying the world and people around you for the glory of God?

When we consider that the average American adult spends 5.6 hours per day on a technological device (smart phone, tablet, laptop, desktop), it’s apparent that we are living life through the screen.  What exactly are we missing?  Who are we offending?  What people in our lives are we neglecting?  Is technology really that important to us?  I may have learned about the physicality of elk hunting in extreme primitive conditions on the mountain in Colorado, but it revealed just how connected I am to technology.

It was a difficult challenge to be without cell phone coverage for that length of time, but it caused me to consider how terribly unhealthy it can be to be a normal functioning American citizen with a smart phone.  We should all rethink how distracted from reality we are today.  What are we missing?  What sunsets, birds, flowers, and precious moments are we missing due to technological distractions?  Look up, listen up, and enjoy life for the glory of God.  There’s a big world out there and you don’t need a smart phone to experience the high definition views.  Just look up!

*The picture in the heading was taken on my hike down the trail in Colorado on my final day.  No filters, no e-mail distractions, no social media interruptions, no notifications popping up to remind me of an appointment.

Silence and Solitude . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Silence and Solitude . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of silence and solitude.  In a world full of noise, we need to be alone with God – sometimes.

Explanation of Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “The Discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought” (224).  As Whitney points out, the silence is not for mere quietness alone, but for the purpose of reaching goals in Bible reading, prayer, and journaling.  Don Whitney goes on to write, “Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes” (224).  No matter if the period of solitude is for a few minutes or a few days, the purpose is always centered on a God-glorifying goal as opposed to a fleshly desire to be self-serving.

Valuable Reasons for Silence and Solitude

  1.  To Follow Jesus’ Example
  2. To Minimize Distractions in Prayer
  3. To Express Worship to God
  4. To Express Faith in God
  5. To Seek the Salvation of the Lord
  6. To Be Physically and Spiritually Restored
  7. To Regain a Spiritual Perspective
  8. To Seek the Will of God
  9. To Learn Control of the Tongue

Don Whitney writes, “One reason why the dual disciplines of silence and solitude can be so thoroughly transforming is because of how they help connect us with the other Spiritual Disciplines” (236).

Suggestions for Silence and Solitude

Don Whitney writes, “Here are some practical helps for making silence and solitude less a mere longing and more a reality and a habit” (238).

  1. “Minute Retreats” – Prioritize small segments in a day where silence and solitude can be achieved.
  2. A Goal of Daily Silence and Solitude
  3. Getting Away for Solitude and Silence
  4. Special Places
  5. Trade Off Daily Responsibilities

In the memoir of the first missionary from America, Adoniram Judson, we find this story:

Once, when worn out with translations, and really needing rest, he went over the hills into the thick jungle, far beyond all human habitation. . . . To this place he brought his Bible, and sat down under the wild jungle trees to read, and mediate, and pray, and at night returned to the “hermitage” [a bamboo house he’d built at the edge of the jungle].

Don Whitney writes, “Why would he [Adoniram Judson] break his routine for this prolonged period of silence and solitude?  His biographer says it was ‘as a means of moral improvement by which the whole of his future life might be rendered more in harmony with the perfect example of the Saviour whom he worshipped'” (246).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will you seek daily times of silence and solitude?
  2. Will you seek extended times of silence and solitude?
  3. Will you start now?
  4. Will you commit yourself to the Disciplines of silence and solitude?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 11 and look at the subject of journaling. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Don’t Be a Peter Iredale

Don’t Be a Peter Iredale

Years ago a ship by the name of Peter Iredale sailed the western coastline of the United States on a regular basis.  It was a large sailboat, with massive sails that transcended high above the deck of the ship.  It was used as a shipping vessel.  One fall day in 1906, the ship was on a delivery trip with cargo from Salina Cruz, Mexico bound for Portland, Oregon.  The Peter Iredale had a crew of 27 on board when captain H. Lawrence spotted the lighthouse in the early hours of the morning.  He immediately knew that he was off course.  He and the crew tried to make corrections, but it was too late.  Peter Iredale shipwrecked off of the coast of Oregon on October 20th 1906.

Peter_iredale-wreck

Today, all that remains of the large ship is part of the bow and some exterior ribs.  The shipwreck has served as a reminder for 110 years that mistakes on the sea are costly.  Although the ship was in good shape and seemed to have many years of sailing ahead, one mistake ended its life.  It never sailed again after experiencing the shipwreck in 1906.  According to records, it was sold for scrap.  So it is with the Christian life.  We need to guard ourselves and be alert.  One mistake could cause us to shipwreck in the faith.  We need to hear the warning of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12 – take heed lest you fall.  We don’t want our lives to be sold for scrap—perpetual examples of mistakes to avoid.

Yesterday I preached from Mark 14:66-72 and the main focus was centered on another Peter – the dominant leader of the disciples – the man known as Simon Peter.  After the arrest of Jesus, Peter followed at a distance and entered the courtyard of the high priest.  He found himself warming up by the fire with other bystanders.  It didn’t take long before Peter was noticed, and that led to three horrific denials.  What appeared to be a wonderful opportunity for a sermon turned into an embarrassing and cowardly rejection of Jesus.

Peter was first noticed by a servant girl of the high priest.  One of the most lowly classes of people in that culture, and yet the bold and outspoken Peter quickly dismissed her statement as an error of misjudgment.  In short, Peter denied Jesus and according to Mark – the rooster crowed.  Not long afterward, another servant girl (according to Matthew and Luke, the next exchange was a different servant girl) likewise recognized Peter as one of the followers of Christ.  Once again, Peter denied it.  Matthew says he replied, “I do not know what you’re talking about.”

This all builds to the climatic third denial when the bystanders who were addressed by the servant girl likewise spoke up and identified Peter as a Galilean and connected the dots to Peter as a follower of Jesus.  Peter was so intense and committed to rejecting Jesus that he pronounced a curse upon himself if he was not telling the truth.  He completely rejected any connection to Jesus.  According to Mark, “And immediately the rooster crowed a second time.”  The prophecy of Jesus had come to pass just as He had predicted.  Luke 22:60-62 adds an interesting fact that Mark doesn’t include.  Luke 22:61-62 reads, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” [62] And he went out and wept bitterly.”

The piercing eyes of Jesus crushed Peter.  The echoes of the rooster were still ringing in his ears as Jesus looked toward him.  Peter was brought to a low place of failure.  He wept bitterly.  The old saying, “Sin will take you farther than you’re willing to go, keep you longer than you’re willing to stay, and cost you more than you’re willing to pay” is something that Peter learned that night.  He had boasted in a prideful display of affection that he would never deny Jesus – even to his death.  Yet, he found himself publicly and passionately rejecting Jesus when it counted.

If the story had ended there, we would be left to believe that Peter’s life ended like Judas – in a horrific shipwreck.  However, according to John 21, we see that Peter was publicly restored by Jesus.  After Jesus cooked fish and fed the disciples on the sea shore, He publicly restored Peter.  Peter would go on to sail again.  This bold disciple who failed miserably would go on to preach the famous sermon at Pentecost where 3,000 came to faith in Christ.  He would also go on to write 1 and 2 Peter in the New Testament as he was used to encourage persecuted believers.  In the end, Peter would give his life for the sake of Christ and once again when facing the time of testing and trial, Peter refused to reject Jesus.  According to tradition, Peter was eventually crucified upside down for his faith in Christ.

The apostle Peter refused to be a Peter Iredale.  What about you?

Chapter 17 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith is on Perseverance. In paragraph three, the statement reads:

In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time.  In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves.  Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end.

Worship God . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Worship God . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together.  With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness.  The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, and prayer.  What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray?  These are merely component parts of worship.  In this chapter, Whitney defines and describes the worship of God, and explains why it’s necessary in both public and private settings.

Worship Is . . . Focusing on and Responding to God

According to Don Whitney, “The word worship descends from the Saxon word weorthyscype, which later became worthship.  To worship God means to ascribe proper worth to God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God as He is worthy” (103).  What we find happening in Revelation 4 and 5 are examples of worship.  As we read and consider those scenes of worship, it’s clear that all focus is on God.  How we worship God matters, and if our worship is distracted, it prevent worship.

Some may argue that we are not in heaven and cannot worship Him by visually looking at His appearance.  How must we worship the invisible God who is with us?  Beyond looking at creation and worshipping the One who created such majestic mountains and painted such a stunning sunset – we worship God through the image that He has provided to us in His written Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).  In both private (family worship) and public worship, we must worship Him through the lens of Scripture.

Worship  . . . Done in Spirit and Truth

Don Whitney writes, “The most profound passage on worship in the New Testament is John 4:23-24.  There Jesus said, ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the truth worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth'” (106).  In order to accomplish this, we must possess the Holy Spirit within us, and that’s only possible for those who have come to Christ in repentance and faith.  Every person who has trusted Christ as Lord has the indwelling Spirit of God living within them, and without Him true worship will not happen.

We must likewise remember that we worship in spirit and truth.  Truth is found in the pages of Scripture, and we must base our worship of God on the revealed truth given to us by God.  True worship is not goosebumps and big productions.  True worship of God happens by the people who are led by the Spirit of God and base their worship of God on what He has made known to us in the Bible.  In other words, worship is not merely emotionally driven – it’s driven by truth!  That doesn’t mean that we don’t engage our emotions in worship.  Don Whitney writes:

So we must worship in both spirit and truth, with both heart and head, with both emotion and thought.  If we worship with too much emphasis on spirit we will be mushy and weak on the truth, worshipping mainly according to feelings.  That can lead anywhere from a lazy, unthinking tolerance of anything in worship at one extreme to uncontrollable spiritual wildfire on the other.  But if we overemphasize worship in truth and minimize worship in spirit, then our worship will be taut, grim, and icily predictable (108).

Worship  . . . Expected Both Publicly and Privately

According to Hebrews 10:25, God expects His people to gather for public worship with other believers.  God warns us to refrain from disconnecting and neglecting the assembly of the believers.  Whitney writes, “The church of Jesus Christ is not a collection of isolationists” (110).  All through the Bible we see imagery used describing the church as a “flock” (Acts 20:28), “body” (1 Corinthians 12:12), “structure” (Ephesians 2:21), and “household” (Ephesians 2:19), and in each case – the point is made clear – each member of the church is important and needs the other members.

In addition to public worship, we are called to private worship – the worship of God that takes place when we are alone and when we gather with our individual families.  Whitney asks, “How can we worship God publicly once each week when we do not care to worship him privately throughout the week” (112)?  Consider how we should pray, read the Bible, and disciple our families (especially the children) in private worship each week (see Deuteronomy 6).  Private worship is essential.

Worship Is . . . A Discipline to be Cultivated

Just like any other discipline, if we don’t put effort and intentionality into our worship of God, it will be shallow, pragmatic, and dishonoring to God.  Don Whitney says, “Without discipline, our worship of God will be thin and inconsistent” (113).  If worship is (and it certainly is) a response to the glory of God and all of His beauty, splendor, majesty, and sovereignty – how can God’s children neglect private and public worship?  People who are not truly worshipping God are either caught in a routine of duties that distract them from worship, or they’re not genuinely converted.  A true child of God will worship – although the overall worship practice is a discipline that must be cultivated.

Don Whitney writes:

So if you are discouraged by the snail’s pace of your sanctification, get counsel from those who do seem to be growing in godliness through public and private worship.  Talk to a mature Christian who has a meaningful devotional life.  Review some of the earlier sections of this book, particularly the ones on mediation and prayer.  The development of discipline, from hitting a golf ball to playing the piano, almost always requires outside help from those with more experiences.  So don’t be surprised that you need help in the development of the Disciplines that lead to Christlikeness, and don’t be afraid to ask for it (114).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will you commit yourself to the discipline of daily worship?
  2. Will you put actual worship into your acts of worship?
  3. What is preventing you from worshipping God?  Do you bring certain distractions into your worship time?  Does your phone hinder you?  If your phone or tablet prevents a temptation to check e-mail and do other things during worship (private and public), put those things away and use your Bible in printed form.
  4. Are you worshipping God weekly or watching others worship?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 6 and look at the subject of evangelism. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

The Sin of Slothful Living

The Sin of Slothful Living

Our culture is filled with an attitude of idleness.  The statistics tell us that 5% of our population is presently unemployed, but you can drive through certain neighborhoods where the statistics are much higher.  We are living in a time where calluses are uncool.  Many young men are plagued with perpetual adolescence as they camp out in their parent’s basement and play endless hours of Madden NFL 16 on their Xbox 360.  Laziness abounds in our day – especially among many young people.

As a boy, I was privileged to have great examples before me in my father and grandfather who exemplified what it looked like to be hard workers.  In fact, I never once witnessed idleness in the men in my life.  Some of my childhood memories involve swimming at my grandparents and hearing the ladders rattling on my grandfather’s truck as he came home after a long day of work that started before daybreak.  I likewise spent many hours playing on the firetruck and hanging out around the fire station as my father worked 48 straight hours on duty and 24 hours off in my early years followed by a more normal 24 hours on and 48 hours off for the majority of my childhood.  However, as a boy it was a known thing that all firemen had a second job – so when my father went to a 24 on and 48 off schedule, he would spend those off days working.

My father and grandfather both taught me to work.  While in middle school, I remember working in the summer months doing odd construction jobs, cutting grass, and painting stenciled addresses on curbs for property owners to earn money.  When I was in high school, I worked for a barbecue house, a shoe store, and eventually I moved up the ladder to land a job in the toy department at the local Wal-Mart.  I was not given my first automobile as a gift, instead, I was taught to get a job after school hours and on the weekends in order to pay for it.  I was taught to balance work and my athletic involvement (I ran track and cross country).  As I think back to those early days of my development, I’m not only grateful for good examples, but I’m likewise appreciative for the fact that my parents taught me to work.

What Does the Bible Teach About Slothful Living?

From the very beginning, we see God working.  All through the Bible, we see references to the “work of God.”  The opening chapters of the Bible include the dramatic work of God in creation.  God serves as the great example of what it means to be a worker.  Adam was created by God and commissioned as a worker (Gen. 1:28-29).  This was prior to the fall of Adam and Even into sin, and therefore, cannot be attributed to the curse.  Work is not a result of God’s judgment upon humanity.  Work was God’s intention from the beginning.  Therefore, any ongoing pattern of laziness and slothful behavior is antithetical to God’s original design.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus coming to do the will of the Father.  He came to work the works of God and to accomplish the redemptive plan of God by saving His people (Matt. 1:21; John 6:38).  The second Person of the Godhead is depicted in the New Testament as a worker.  Therefore, it’s abundantly clear that work is not only biblical, but God has set before us proper examples of what work looks like and how it must be carried out.  He provided us an example to follow and a sufficient Bible to shape our theology of work.  Consider the words of Scripture:

  • Proverbs 19:15
  • Proverbs 24:30-34
  • Proverbs 20:4
  • Proverbs 26:13-16
  • Proverbs 21:25
  • Proverbs 19:24
  • Proverbs 13:4
  • Proverbs 12:11
  • Proverbs 10:5
  • Proverbs 10:4
  • Proverbs 12:24
  • Proverbs 10:26
  • Proverbs 18:9
  • Proverbs 15:19
  • Proverbs 20:13
  • Ecclesiastes 10:18

Although this is not an exhaustive list, the point is clear, the wisdom literature of the Bible is replete with warnings to the sluggard.  The slothful person is negligent in taking care of himself, his family, and his property.  The sluggard always has an excuse, even a fear of being devoured by lions will keep him at home.  The slothful person refuses to work and according to Scripture, he should not eat.  Work is rooted in creation and is God’s intended design for humanity.  Those who refuse to work experience great pain, peril, and perpetual problems.  It’s a foolish thing to refuse to work.

The Christian’s Responsibility

As we survey the New Testament, Paul writes these words to the church at Thessalonica (2 Thess. 3:6-15):

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. [7] For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, [8] 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. [9] It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. [10] For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. [11] For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. [12] Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. [13] As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. [14] If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. [15] Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

According to Paul, he and others had provided satisfactory examples to the church in their work.  Paul made two specific statements that must be taken to heart.  First, he said, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess 3:10).  He went on to charge the church to confront those people in the church who were unwilling to work (2 Thess. 3:14-15).  It was so serious to Paul that he counseled the church to refuse to spend time with people who refused to work.  Their slothful attitude and manner of living posed a threat to the entire church.  A man who refuses to work cannot be trusted with the souls of a wife and children.  A slothful man cannot be trusted to shepherd a family.

When a person in the church refuses to work, they become an unnecessary burden for the church and bring reproach upon the name of Christianity.  How can a man care for his family if he refuses to work?  How can a sluggard point people to God when they live as a slothful individual?  They refuse to see that their lifestyle hinders their ability to point people to Christ.  According to the Word of God, such a man is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8).  The Christian has a responsibility to follow after good examples and to be busy in faithful work in order to care for himself and his family.  This is the responsibility for every man – especially the men who name the name of Christ.  In his commentary on 1 Samuel, Matthew Henry said, “The devil visits idle men with his temptations. God visits industrious men with His favors.”

As I reflect back upon my childhood, I can recall many days where I made excuses to my parents about how I shouldn’t be forced to work as a student and an athlete.  I recall making excuses about how I didn’t want to work when school was out because I wanted to enjoy my time away from school.  I’m grateful that they didn’t buy it.  They allowed me to be a kid, but they also heavily encouraged me to work.  For that, I will forever be thankful.