Fat Sheep: Confronting Laziness in the Church

I’m convinced that one of the most besetting sins we face in 21st century America is laziness. Its presence becomes evident in our lives when we face the daily temptation to hit the snooze button on our alarm clocks as well as the snooze button in our devotion to Christ, and it always leaves behind the bitter taste of regret in our hearts. I’m pretty sure I won’t be laying on my death bead wishing I would have spent more time sleeping, watching television, or mindlessly browsing the internet.

Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.” (Ezek. 34:20)

The Bible clearly condemns laziness (Col. 3:17, 23; Eccl. 9:10; 1 Tim. 5:8; Prov. 10:4; 12:11; 12:24; 13:4; 20:4; 26:15; 2 Thess. 3:6-10), for even from the beginning God placed “man in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Although Adam was in paradise before sin had taken over, he was given the responsibility of work, to accomplish the tasks that were given to him. That is why there is something so rewarding about putting in a good day’s work. I’ll be the first to say that I am thankful for sleep, and I am NOT a morning person! I’m very familiar with the difference between WAKING UP and GETTING UP. I enjoy being able to spend time resting and recuperating away from the cares and responsibilities of life, and I believe that rest is absolutely important and biblical when it’s put in the right context, but it should not be our everything. If we continually allow more and more rest time to be used to feed our souls with godless pleasures and vain activities, there can come a point where our desire to rest becomes lethargy. I think rest can include recreational activities, hobbies, vacations and more, but if the primary element isn’t to reflect and connect with the Lord, then it can become spiritually unhealthy. As we grow older, we are bombarded with countless distractions and responsibilities that make it even harder to spend precious moments with the Lord and redeem the time we have for His kingdom, thus we have to make up our minds. We must CHOOSE to conquer lethargy each and every day (Mark 1:35; Matt. 26:41).

I’m convinced that America is not only more physically obese than it has ever been, but its churches are full of sheep who are more obese than they’ve ever been. Many have adopted a wrong thought pattern that expects someone to come lay hands on them, and all of a sudden all their issues are dismissed and they are completely in tune with God, while avoiding the cost of discipleship. Laziness always fears the process. We can’t “Jesus Take the Wheel” through life while we sit back and avoid making the decisions that God expects us to make in order for us to learn. To be a disciple actually means to become a “disciplined learner” which implies the consistent application of that which is learned. Much of God’s people today can be categorized as “fat sheep” because they hardly exercise their faith through obedience or hold a healthy diet of the Word and prayer. We question why we are so easily entangled in the same sin we’ve dealt with for years, yet if we could glance in the spirit for a moment, we would see that our flesh man is monstrously stronger than our spirit man. In order to grow stronger physically, we must learn to press against increasing resistance in a persistent manner; therefore, if we are to grow stronger in the Spirit, we must learn to press against the resisting flesh which wars against us. Don’t allow your life to be governed by what you “feel” like, or you will never accomplish the tasks the Lord has entrusted to you. You must learn to muster up enough resolve say yes and be committed even when your flesh is screaming no (Isa. 64:7). I’m convinced that the cure for laziness is having a clear revelation of Christ, His beauty, His cross, and the rewards of walking in fellowship with Him. We must see how our daily lives are deeply connected to our destiny. As we overcome laziness, I believe we will see stronger marriages, stronger churches, and a stronger Body of Christ that will light up the darkest night!

“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:14-15)

Laziness will suffocate the flame of God upon our hearts little by little until there is nothing but a faint shimmer of heat left inside of us that only bears the memory of a real fire. We must declare war on the spirit of lethargy, which speaks of much more than simply being tired. There is a difference between being physically weary and being spiritually passive. If you are weary in your mind and body, then by all means learn to rest! Learn to eat right, exercise regularly, sleep enough and budget time away from work. But if there is not a willing spirit in you to follow Christ with all your might, then He calls us to repent because we are lukewarm! It’s okay to have down time, but if chilling out becomes your excuse to compromise your convictions, then you need to get back to the fire! We shouldn’t want and nor can we afford to take vacations from God. This is my encouragement to you today Christ follower, get out of your bed, rise up and walk!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wealth, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-26)

But solid food belongs to those who are full of age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:14)

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