My minister preached on the book of Judges last month. It’s not a popular Bible book to study. It’s replete with unpleasant phrases like, “did not drive out,” “failed to drive out,” “did what was evil,” “did not know the Lord,” “they forgot their Lord,” and “again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Israel had a big problem. They were God’s children. Like a petulant child, though, they did not want to listen. Rather, everyone did what he wanted (Judges 21:25). They blended in with the culture but still wanted to be considered God’s chosen people. They didn’t want to follow His commandments, yet they still wanted to reap the benefits of a child of God. The results–moral and spiritual chaos. When they were desperate enough they called for help. But sure enough they’d forget Him and His commands and do their own thing again. My pastor called this “faithfully lazy.”
I’m not sure I heard another word after that. I wanted to better understand what those two words meant. I wanted to know if, or more likely, where I was faithfully lazy.
Since then, I’ve tried to pay more attention to where I was slipping. Did it mean faithfully lazy in using my turn signal every time? Guilty. Did it mean faithfully lazy in daily flossing my teeth? Guilty. Did it mean faithfully lazy in keeping my kitchen island free of mail and dirty dishes? Guilty again.
Although I am most certainly faithfully lazy in these areas, I’m quite sure that’s not what the writer of Judges or my pastor was thinking. Since mulling it over, I’ve been convicted in these areas:
Following Jesus – In the weeks before Easter, I was attuned to Jesus’ death and resurrection. I mourned the horrors of the crucifixion. I relived the joyous resurrection shouting with the angels, “He is not here! For He has risen!”
But here it is the week after Easter and I’m doing my own thing again–getting my laundry done, catching up with emails and working on my writing assignments. Further in the back of my mind, I’m more consumed with buying a new chair for my living room than I am on Jesus paying the full price for my sins.
I keep coasting on my own efforts. When the next trial comes, though, I’ll be back on my knees begging for forgiveness and crying out for help–just like the Israelites.
Loving my neighbor – My husband and I have mentioned several times that we should invite the neighbors over for dinner. We want to know them better. Yet, we’ve not invited the neighbors on either side, and we’ve lived here for almost three years.
Just this past week one of these neighbors had water gushing from an outside pipe. I notified the surrounding neighbors but none of us could get a hold of him. I couldn’t even remember the wife’s name. It’s hard to love your neighbor when you don’t know the person’s name.
Trusting God. I’m a worrier. I worry about a lot of things—political division, moral decline, my children, my husband’s travel, weather, health, and terrorism. So much so that I’ve had to quit watching and reading the news. If I really trusted God, I’d believe He cares for me and my family members. If I really believed He is sovereign over all and His character is good, then I should be able to leave it in His hands.
Yet, I don’t. As I write this, my two daughters are in Europe backpacking. They planned the whole two-week trip themselves. I’ve had a few restless nights conjuring all kinds of dreadful scenarios. I could chalk it up to that’s-what-mothers-do, yet that’s not what God’s children should do. How can I know the Prince of Peace yet peace stay so elusive?
Sharing my faith. As a Jesus follower, I have the most life-changing, eternal-lasting news. Yet I’d rather talk about my church, the weather, or the Green Bay Packers. If I really believed this good news and its eternal consequences, why don’t I share it more? I’ve made some attempts, but to be honest, I’ve talked my way around it and out of it more times then I should.
My former editor from LifeWay didn’t back off on his faith. With his recent death, I’m finding out about all the people He shared the life of Jesus with: preschoolers, teachers, church leaders, family members and friends. I want to live more like he did.
As you can tell, I don’t have all this Jesus-following stuff figured out. If you thought I did, I’m sorry I misled you. I’m still asking questions. I’m still prone to wander. I’m still learning to trust God. I’m still praying for more boldness to share my faith. And I’m still going to ask one of those neighbors over for dinner!
So, the question still before us is, “How do we know if we are faithfully lazy?” If our lives mirror that described in the book of Judges, with a lot of “did nots” or “forgot God,” then we are probably living faithfully lazy lives. However, don’t be discouraged. God waited for the Israelites to repent and return to Him, and He is waiting for you to repent and return, too.
Anyone else out there consider yourself “faithfully lazy.” I’d love to hear your thoughts (and know I’m not the only one)!