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Embracing Rest While Not Falling Into Idle Idol-ness


people rafting down the river, idle, in the summertime


Ahhh Summer. There wasn’t much of a sweeter word than that during my youth. Summer meant kickball games in our neighbor’s backyard, floating on tubes down the Davidson River and of course church camp. When I’d hear that word, visions of sleeping in late and hanging out with my friends and long nights outside entered my head. I couldn’t wait each year for it to come and it never seemed to stay long enough. So, you can imagine my abrupt surprise each summer when school got out, and those days of leisure started – but were soon disrupted. Because I’d hear the voice of my mom or my dad saying “you need to get up son,” “No you can’t go to your friend’s house again, it’s the 4th time this week” “You need to get the grass cut before I get home today” or “did you get your summer reading done?” Of course, that was spotted between the long stretches of summer fun I did get to enjoy – but in my young mind even a moment of interruption felt like an eternity.


You see my parents knew real life isn’t frolic and folly. Yes, there is time to rest, but there’s also much to do. In order for us to keep order and keep discipline in our lives, we must work between the fun. Because without those things there would be chaos. Dishes on end piled in the sink. Grass higher than a corn stalk. Summer reading tests that would be failed. They wanted me to have fun, sure. But they knew, as I’ve come to learn, that unending idleness might be justified by rest, but it soon turns to sloth which soon turns to chaos. Because you see, idleness turns to idol-ness. Meaning when we’re idle, quite quickly our sinful hearts make idols.


And idleness can come in many forms. Yes, we can be idle in our work which we might justify as rest but soon turns to sloth. And we might be idle in our study of God’s Word which we might justify as too hard but soon turns to a lifeless relationship with God. And we might be idle in our speech which we might justify as neutral but soon turns to gossip and sin. And whether idleness in work or faith or words, we will soon prize our sloth and stagnation and speech as idols. Unwilling to change, unwilling to grow, and always justifying.


The Bible has some words to offer on being idle and having idols. On idleness – Proverbs 19:15 “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger,” Matthew 12:36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” And when idleness turns into idols, the Bible says this – Colossians 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” 1 Corinthians 10:7 “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play,” 1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Whatever the idol or idle, we are called by our God to run from it.


And why? Because He alone is our God. Not our pleasure, not our opinions and not our reasons. He has called us to work and to rest, to study and to sleep, to watch our words and to speak them too. But nothing we do is neutral. There is no such thing in the Christian life as “just” doing this or that. Whatever we do, whether what we are doing itself is neutral, we always impact it by our motive and hearts. So let us live with a seriousness of purpose – let us be serious about work and rest, words, and actions. And let us test these things by the only word that has authority, the Word of God. Speaking of words, I still enjoy summers, and I look forward to seeing you here this summer as we move forward together – checkout what’s going on at SCBC, including Vacation Bible School, and join us! But also, be sure the grass is cut and the dishes are done too!



See you soon,


William

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