Play hard, but work hard, too.
JANUARY 10, 2024
Play hard, but work hard, too. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers sick of phony religion and pious cliches. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, I brought up the subject, but we didn’t talk about it much. Let me read the text, and it’s throughout the book of Proverbs, and it’s about laziness. You know, you hear a lot in our culture about the horror of workaholism. The people that work too hard, and they ruin their families, and they ruin their lives, and they hurt everything. Well Proverbs, kind of goes in a different direction. It says, don’t be a sluggard. You got to move it. You got to put some elbow grease into it. You got to work and you got to work hard. And if you work and you work hard, that will be blessed because that’s the way the world works. Listen to what I read to you yesterday. This is Proverbs 6:6 through 11.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Which having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.
And that becomes one of the major themes throughout the Book of Proverbs. It’s all over. Proverbs 10:4 through 5, Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 14:23, 18:9, 19:15, 16:18 through 19, 21:4. And it goes on and on and on. Do you know how you can tell when a subject is important to God, to talk about, to look at how often he talks about that particular subject. I remember one time when my mother and I were watching television. And there was a story about a woman who had been kicked out of our local church because of some sin. And my mother got really huffy about it and she said, I hate that. And I said, Mom, it’s in the Bible. She said, No, it’s not. And I said, yeah, it is. It’s called church discipline and it’s supposed to take place. And John Calvin said it was one of the marks of the true church. And she said, it’s not there. And I said, well, I don’t know exactly where it is, but I’m going to look it up and I’m going to show you. And I spent a couple of hours looking for passages on church discipline and it is there. It’s just not there much. And so, I had to tell my mother. It’s there, but you’re right, it’s not there very much. And if you want to find a subject that there is, it’s the microphone folks, if you want to find a subject that is there a lot, look for God’s love. Look for God’s mercy. Look for God’s forgiveness. And here in Proverbs, when you ask, what is God talking about a lot? One of the major themes that go throughout this book is the theme of being a sluggard, not working hard, not doing the job you’re paid to do. As you know, I taught seminary students for a very long time, and one of the things I said to them often, you have a job where if you are lazy, you can get away with it. Nobody’s watching when you’re in your study. You don’t have to, if you have a glib tongue, you can talk okay in the pulpit. You can goof off and have a wonderful job. And nobody will know it, but it will show. I remember, I remember my first church. I, you know, I was not big on Jesus. I was going to a graduate school that was this side of whacko and frankly I, when I started serving this little church on Cape Cod, I thought, you know, I have died and gone to heaven. I can play golf two or three times a week. I can go fishing. I have to visit the hospital on occasion, and I have to be nice to people, and I have to spend 15 or 20 minutes in a pulpit talking about my views, but I can do all that. They’re going to pay me to do this. And then Jesus came along and messed up my life. He really did. That’s when I found out that I had been called to be busy about the work of God. That’s what Bishop Asbury said to young Methodist ministers. Go, put your face in the light, and do the good that you can. So, if you’re a Christian, it doesn’t go well with being lazy. I got an e-mail this morning from somebody that said that he prayed to God for a bicycle when he was a kid. And then he found out that wasn’t the way it worked. So, he stole the bicycle and he asked God for forgiveness. And who was the man who said who was a farmer, when I pray for a chicken, I hardly ever get a chicken, but when I go and find a chicken, I always get a chicken. Now, I’m not saying it as well as the Book of Proverbs says it, but the Book of Proverbs is such a good book in its wisdom. It says, Get off your posterior in the name of Jesus. Get busy. Do something and when you party, party. When you rest, rest. And when you work, for God’s sake, do it for the glory of God and do it with excellence. Laziness should not be a part of the Christian demeanor. You think about that. Amen.
Play hard and work hard. Sounds good to me. Thanks Steve. Our text again was Proverbs 6:6 through 11. And Steve will be back to work tomorrow teaching us in this series in Proverbs that we’re calling Street-Smart Christians. Be sure to join us. Peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, in a word, contentment. You want it, and I want it, but can we get it? Well, Steve answers this question in a classic sermon titled, How to Be Content…Not. Take a listen to part of that message, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.
Now, let me tell you about my friend Paul. In the seventh chapter of II Corinthians, Paul makes reference to an incident that happened in the third missionary journey. Now, you need to know the I and II Corinthians are a compilation of at minimum three different letters, maybe even a fourth. On the third missionary journey, Paul had gone to Corinth, he had spoken some things, truth to power, that needed to be said, and they were not happy with him, and he left. And then he got to Troas, and trust me on this, I’ve been there. I’ve done this. I’ve got a pile of t-shirts. Paul gets to Troas and he says, Oh my, I wish I hadn’t said that. I say that every time I preach. I don’t believe I said that. They’ll think I’m just irritating them because I don’t like them. I could have been a little bit more gentle, a little wiser. I could have been softer and more pastoral and kind and more, how could I do that? And so, Paul sends Titus, his young friend, to Corinth to see if he can fix the problem. And Paul waits at Troas for Titus to show. And he waits, and he waits, and he waits. And I can just, I know, Paul’s a friend of mine. I’m just like him. And Paul said, oh gosh. And he just, broken, empty, can’t sleep at night. He gets on a boat and goes to Macedonia and continues with his work. Sadder, but wiser. And then, Titus shows up in Macedonia. And Titus goes, they love you, man, they think you’re the best things since sliced bread. If they were here, they’d pour Gatorade over your head. They think you are wonderful. You, Oh, Paul, they have repented. And they said for me specifically to say how much they loved you. And then the seventh chapter of II Corinthians is where Paul goes. That is so good. Why? What was going on? He’s insecure, that’s what’s going on. If you don’t believe it, go to the eleventh chapter of II Corinthians, that’s where Paul brags that he’s better than everybody else. You say, no, no, he’s more. No, he’s not. And what he said is true because I believe in verbal plenary inspiration, but nevertheless, the people God uses for Scripture are just like you. That’s why God can use you. And so, Paul brags, he said, I’ve done this, and I’ve done this, and I’ve done this. And then he stops in the text and says, I don’t believe I’m saying this. I’ve got to be out of my mind, but I’m going to do it anyway. And he goes on until, and then he stops again. And he said, I can’t believe I’m doing this, this isn’t me. This is, well, it’s not the Lord, it’s me. And then he goes on and does it again. And then when you move into the 12th chapter, he’s so human. He asked God to remove the thorn. What’s the thorn? Well, it could be his insecurity. And God says, my power is made perfect in weakness. You say, Steve, what are you bringing us up for? Cause you ought to know. We’re going to kill ourselves with this hero thing. We really are. We’re all messed up. Look to the person next to you or the person in front of you. Don’t look behind you cause I’m insecure and sensitive and think you’re not listening. Look around. They look so together, don’t they? I mean, everything working. They’ve got their Bibles open. If you’ve got yours and they don’t have theirs, you can feel self-righteous. But they do look together, don’t they? We’ve all worshiped. We’re church no less. Let me tell you about that person. They’re just as screwed up as you are.
Listen, if you’re struggling to find that peace and contentment, you’re going to really enjoy this full sermon on CD. So, let us send it to you for free. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD called How to Be Content…Not. Finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card, you can include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now give safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.