the danger of idle time and more

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 11

2 Samuel 11 is the horrific account of David and Bathsheba. All of scripture is written for us (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11), so regardless of what we think about the bloodshed in military battle, and by the way, God would not let David build the temple because of all of this killing (1 Chronicles 22:8), we can and should draw out some lessons which should be warnings to us.

First of all, idle time is not necessarily our friend. It seems like the culture is more and more about entertainment, rather than doing something productive. It’s about watching TV and playing video games. Or whatever it is that you like to do. Or perhaps more to the point, don’t like to do. We don’t like the grind of daily work. We like leisure, and time when we don’t have to do anything. And we need times like that, even regularly, as well as vacations when we get away from it all in a different setting.

But back to the point: We live for the weekends, and work is often just a nuisance we put up with in the countdown to the weekend.

I would challenge that notion. Work is a blessing, as we read in Ecclesiastes. And the right balance of leisure and work is praised in that book (5:18-20).

When it comes to work, there seem to be two extremes at play in the world today. One is the incessant pounding for more and more work to meet a certain quota, which tends to be more and more after time. Oftentimes more is demanded from less. Very common today. Then there’s the other extreme of trying to cram all the work into one part, maybe with an added emphasis to not work hard, but smart. So that one can have at least a three day weekend. The push is to get the work done and out of the way, the other being the pull that the work is never done, so that not only too many hours are spent at work, but people do that work at home (or make the workplace their home), oftentimes 60 hours a week or more. Neither is good. Somehow we have to find a good balance and get a good rhythm going between work and play, busyness and leisure.

The other thing we might think about from the account on David, isn’t explicit in the text, but is important for life and evident in scripture. We ordinarily don’t fall overnight without weakening over time. It’s not like anyone can’t fall at any time. The attitude that we are fall proof is dangerous. But ordinarily we change so that what at one time would have been at least unthinkable and unlikely, is now the very thing we want to do, or will find ourselves open to doing. Surely something was wrong in David’s heart. And note that after this terrible act of committing adultery, and what followed, which was just as bad, if not worse, David did not repent right away as he should have. God was at work to convict him of his sin (Psalm 32) and some months later through his prophet (2 Samuel 12). Afterward David resumed his work as king, such as it was in those days.

What are we becoming? And what are we either doing, or failing to do, likely both, in what could be a gradual change for the worse? That change hardly noticed, and fully accepted by us.

Whatever our own life circumstances, we need to discern God’s call for us, what God wants us to do. We want to avoid a soul sickness which puts us in danger. We will do well to keep at the work God has for us, and get the rest and leisure time we need, especially in being alone with God, as well as attentive to, and at play with others. In and through Jesus.

sloth equals the failure to love

John Frye wrote a helpful post on sloth from Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s book, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies.

Sloth plain and simple means the failure to love, although there’s much more to consider in that. Of course the true love from which all other created love flows is in view here. It is not the absence of work, in fact a person might work around the clock and yet be slothful to the core. One might work even with love in view, while neglecting love to those closest to them such as their spouse and children. Surely this has been a trap for not a few.

This challenges me, but it encourages me at the same time. Oftentimes I seem to have little heart to do what needs to be done, other than making sure I do what I must do to provide for my wife, to make a living. I can lack heart due to lacking love which is actually a contradiction to the faith, because at the core of the faith is love, God’s love in Jesus by the Spirit at work in and through his people in the world. A love which is especially devoted to others in the faith, but spills out to everyone else, including even one’s enemies. In following the way and indeed the heart of Jesus.

I needed this reminder this morning, something I hope to keep in view. So as to remain in that active love which we receive and give in and through Jesus.

little by little

If you’re like me, you have a tendency toward procrastination. Deadlines to meet, or things we need or ought to do are a part of life. And I doubt that meeting every one of them is as essential as some people might think. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to Martha supporting her sister Mary for not helping get needed work done, but instead sitting at his feet, drinking in his words.

Just the same we do have responsibilities, things we really have to do sooner or later, as well as things we should get done. But this reminds me of thoughts that sometimes seem to be like flashes to me: I need to be in ongoing prayer for so and so. I need to take more time to simply be quiet before God, I need to keep reading, etc.

Rather than get lost in the immensity of all I don’t get done, I think I need to concentrate on what is essential, while working at the rest little by little. It is easy for me to get overwhelmed in what needs and should be done; there is always plenty, especially when one “owns” a house that is a bit older.

And in all of this I want to continue in what I think is God’s word to me right now: “Slow down.” And all that means for me. It is a nuanced word for me, and I have to work at understanding just what it means and involves in my life. But it certainly means first things first: relationships with God and with others.

Little by little I hope I’m moving in a good direction, and for sure keep working at making the one thing needed, my priority of life.