Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are you Making Excuses for Spiritual Stagnation and Apathy?

We humans are masters of excuse. We have an excuse for everything from why we don't exercise to why we lose our temper or why we can't stop smoking. Sometimes we are vocal about our excuses and other times we just rationalize them in our own heads. We often blame others for our faults and issues.

One thing we often make excuses about is why we are not actively participating in God's plan for our lives and for the redemption of the earth. In other words, why we have no desire to grow spiritually or to participate in sharing God's message of salvation to the world.

Let me give you some examples here about what I am talking about:  Maybe you are so focused on making ends meet and assuring the comfort of your own family unit that you haven't in any way considered how you can help spread God's message of hope to your wider community or around the world. Perhaps you are a member of a church but have not really fully engaged in it's ministries by using your gifts within the body of Christ. You are not willing to sacrifice any time, money or your own convenience to do so. How about spending time in the Word of God, the Bible? Is it still sitting on a shelf in your home collecting dust? Have you gotten serious about learning what God has to say about life and his purposes for you? Do you have a desire to grow spiritually?

So many of us waste years of our life on vain and fruitless pursuits that have no eternal value. We are content to stay right where we are spiritually...content to remain as babes in Christ and to never go any deeper. We never take that extra step to engage in God's mission by teaching, serving, leading, studying. We prefer to just show up in church as much as possible and to soak up what we can to improve our lives during that hour on Sunday morning.

There are several common excuses given for this spiritual apathy and detachment, whether we
verbalize it to others or just convince ourselves within our own minds.

 First of all, people use the excuse, "I am too busy to spend any time on spiritual things." Well, I ask you...what are you working so hard towards? After all, as my father once told me, "Things don't matter...people do!" If you are spending your life slaving away for material things, prestige, or accolades from man, then you have missed the point. Not to mention the fact that you can't take a U-Haul to heaven, as I recently heard a preacher say! We need to be "laying up treasures in heaven" as the Bible tells us to do. What does this mean? Well, we are to be about the business of bringing people to the saving knowledge of Christ, meeting the needs of our fellow man, and using our gifts and talents within the church body to help it fulfill it's mission in the world. Nothing is more important. Giving your life to this kind of service has eternal value!

When you stand before God on judgement day, as we all will, he is not going to care how far up the corporate ladder you were able to climb, how many cars and boats you owned, nor even how many degrees you obtained. He will look into your face and ask what you did for his kingdom with the time he gave you on earth.

Another excuse people use for spiritual laziness is, "My pastor is not the man he should be." They have told themselves that if he were a better preacher, more humble, a little easier to understand or, would visit them...then they would be inspired to get involved. Instead, they say, "I am going to sit here on this pew with a scowl on my face and wait for a better preacher to come along. Then I will begin to joyfully serve in the kingdom." Right.... I hate to break it to you but, there are no perfect pastors. Nor are there perfect churches. You should be serving and growing and contributing in your own imperfect church where God has placed you.

And finally, many Christians today will say, "I have been a Christian for years! I know the Bible backwards and forwards. I've done my time...I'll let those enthusiastic 'new' Christians do all that extra stuff."  I believe that God does not really have a retirement plan for Christians. Although he may move you into a different type of service as your body begins to slow down, he calls us to spiritual growth, service and commitment for as long as we are on this earth.

Let's stop making excuses...let's begin to live a life of purpose, service, and spiritual growth. Let's begin to live a life of spiritual intentionality. Don't waste your life packin' that U-Haul! Instead...spend your time earning jewels for the heavenly crown that we will one day lay at the feet of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Live a life of purpose!

"Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" Luke 9:23-25

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