Don’t Just Sit There! (Romans 12:11)

Most of us have a tendency to be lazy, but we know full well that the Christian life is a tremendous contrast to that kind of attitude. It seems that the blogosphere highlights this even more, as it produces more and more armchair theologians. Knowing that I fall into the same trap, the following sermon is mainly preaching to myself. I know, however, that it’s powerful, because this time – it’s alliterated!

 The Right Kind of Business

Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord

When Christ said to His disciples, “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, He carefully chose the words that He used. He could have said, “I will build my synagogue” in order to differentiate His gathered flock from those of the Jews. Synagogue means just that – a gathering. But there was more to the word He chose for church. Ekklesia means “called out assembly”, and when the disciples heard this word, they didn’t think of a synagogue. They thought of the city-state, in which the assembly was called out in order to do the business of that particular city-state. Hence, when Christ used this term for His church, the illustration was apparent – this is to be the called out assembly to do the business of the Lord.

This business wasn’t a bunch of old men sitting around signing papers, either. The city-states of Jesus time existed amidst much turmoil. Corrupt government leaders, wars, and other sorts of chaos could find its way into one of these city-states, and the ekklesia did fervent business for the sake of the city-state. It didn’t always work out though. In contrast to that, Jesus Christ differentiated His church by another mark – the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. No, the called out assembly of Jesus Christ could charge the very gates of Hell and be assured of victory every time!

Christianity thrives on challenge. And to meet those challenges, we are to gather together, being called out from the world, and do God’s business. We see that in the book of Acts, as the early church met daily and spread the gospel amidst intense persecution. We see that in church history, as martyrs gave their blood for Christ’s sake and the purity of the church – a church for which they did business. We hear about it today around the world as missionaries have to do fervent business in order to survive until the next day so that one more soul may hear the gospel. Yet we look around at the state of Christianity today in much of the Western world and think, “what in the world are we doing?” Most members of Christ’s body are engaged in everything else under the sun but the Lord’s business. And if they get involved, it is not the whole-hearted effort warranted by our text. The fact is many of us are engaged in the wrong kind of business. We spend to much time and energy on things that are temporary and have little or no time and energy for that which is eternal. If we are going to see God grace us with a revival of His power, we must get back to the right kind of business.

1. The right action

“Not slothful in business”

Business here carries the idea of something speedy, eagerness, diligence, or zeal. In such a thing, we are commanded not to be slothful. Slothful means idle or lazy – not irked by the demands of. The demands of business does not irk a slothful person. This means that he is unaffected by the challenges the church is here to meet. The fact that people are dying and going to hell doesn’t move him to action. The needs and petitions of his fellow church members don’t move him to action. The fact that we even have services doesn’t cause him to attend. Now these cases can go from hardly to very extreme, but the point is a slothful person is hard to move. This is what we ought not to be!

We have to get things done. The gospel must be preached, people must be baptized, the Bible must be taught, disciples must be made, God’s glory must be manifest, the needy must be helped, neighbors must be loved, righteousness must be lived, truth must be proclaimed, the facilities must be tended to, the children must be nurtured, the babies must be loved, the bulletins must be printed, the office work must get done, visitations must be made, resources must come in, prayers must be offered, songs must be sung! This is the business of the Lord.

It also is very helpful:

It helps the busybody (meddling in people’s affairs but doing no work)

II Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 

It helps prevent waste:

Proverbs 18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

It prevents excuses:

Proverbs 26:13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

It prevents laziness:

14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. 

It prevents weariness:

 15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. 

If all we have is a weary, lazy, wasteful, Christianity full of busybodies and excuses, then we need to get to work!

Don’t just sit there, do something!

2. The right attitude

“Fervent in spirit”

Josephus used the word “slothful” in reference to military attacks which slowed down because those fighting became soft and lost heart.

The word used for fervent literally means “to boil.” This deals with the heat of our emotions. What we feel inwardly about the business of the Lord ought to be so hot, it literally boils outwardly into how we do the business of the Lord. These two phrases, “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit” offer the right balance we need to perform God’s business. There are those who have the first right – they are very practical, very driven, very ready to get things done efficiently, but they have no emotion, no real love for the work, no real motivation other than getting things done so we can go home. Then there are those who only have the second right, they are emotional, they feel the spirit, feel the love, have a sensitive religion, but don’t do anything about it. Here we find the complete picture – do a lot, and do it with authentic enthusiasm. John Piper said this is, “passionately pragmatic, poetically businesslike.”

One lawyer got a dose of this when he went to ask Jesus what he could do to earn God’s favor. It isn’t about something you do however:

Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

When David’s sin with Bethsheba and subsequent maladies were manifest to him, there were plenty of things he could have tried to do, rather the attitude of repentance is what God wanted:

Psalm 51:16 For thou desirestnot sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

God looks on the heart. It’s not just enough to do a lot of stuff. God knows if you are being real. Christianity should be the most emotionally satisfying religion in the world. How one displays his emotions is another story.

I remember joking with my fellow fundamentalist friends about the way some people display emotions. I did a lot church hopping as a kid, and I’ve been in a lot of contemporary services. I would see how some people hold out their hands like they’re ready to catch a football or waiting for a high five. Many people would clap to show their enthusiasm. I sat next to people who believed that they could just feel it. Then I got my heart right and left all that! Right? Well…then I found myself in the midst of a circle of Christianity whose adherents display their emotions by shouting, waving their handkerchiefs, standing on the pulpit, kicking their legs, and running down the aisle! Then I thought, how dare I make fun of the way some people show their emotions just because I thought it was silly. Look at this stuff! The point I’m trying to make is that unless your display of your emotions violates God’s Word (if it’s sensual, rowdy, disturbing, or dishonest), I don’t care how you do it. I won’t criticize you if you get so excited about God that you do back-flips or swing from the lights. I also don’t want to be criticized, as some preachers do, because I personally don’t always show my emotions during a service. The true Judge of my emotions is God alone. The true display of my emotions is how I conduct the business of the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findethto do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

Jonathan Edwards drew 70 resolutions in 1723 which he read to himself once a week. Resolution number 6 was, “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”

I want to be boiling over so much with happiness in salvation, the urgency of evangelism, the desire of God’s presence, the power of prayer, and the contentment that only Christ brings that I get busy about it.

Don’t just do something, do it with all your might!

3. The right affection

“Serving the Lord”

Of course, all this can be said and we can be doing the wrong kind of business. We can be not slothful, zealous, and fervent in spirit but use it toward the world. Sadly, a lot of Christians today do just that. They have the “not slothful” things down just fine – at the workplace, that is. They have the “fervent in sprit” thing down too – when they’re with friends and family. But when it comes to doing the business of God we oftentimes give God the last residue of energy that we have. What must be done is a complete reversal – not that we get lazy in our secular employment, but that our fervency for God’s work takes top priority in everything we do.

Serving the Lord helps us to remember that we’re not serving people, we’re not serving ourselves, we’re not serving the world, we’re not even serving the law. We are serving the One who saved our souls. It is imperative to have the right affection. It must be Him. David encouraged himself in the Lord. It must be a priority to get up every day and not be satisfied until God is your greatest joy. It is only by Him that we can even accomplish His business, and have the power to do it.

I Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Let us engage in the right kind of business for this desperate hour. Let us be abounding always in the work of the Lord for we know not when He will come back. Let us take God up on His promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail and actually charge them by bringing ourselves back to serving Him with the right fervency. Let us heed this challenge, lest we become like the church in Revelation 3, to which God said

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Don’t just do something with all your might, do the business of the Lord with all your might!

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1 comment so far

  1. David on

    This is the only truth, dont just sit there, do something for the Lord. I really liked your web. May the Lord bless you and keep you.


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