The first thing we ought to do, is examine that word, “slothfulness”.  The word itself is ancient and archaic, and it refers to an ANIMAL named the “sloth”.  It’s an animal that is usually DISinclined to DOING anything!  It’s mainly found in South American rain forests, where it spends the majority of its life, hanging upside-down among the branches of a tree, and only occasionally moving a short distance, to eat leaves, which makes up all of its diet.

The sloth is often found to be bright GREEN in color, because it is so sedentary in nature, ALGAE will often grow on its fur.  This animal has become a living synonym for LAZINESS, which is a word we are more familiar with, even though we will probably not admit that we sometimes give IN to it.

Some other words that are synonymous with sloth would be “apathy”, “idleness”, “sluggishness”, or “procrastination”.  There are other words that describe the condition, but these will be enough to understand the problem.  And for right now, I’m going to stick with “laziness”.

This condition can be found almost anywhere, and it seems to be becoming more and more common lately.  It affects our kid’s school work, the marketplace, the home and even the church!

Just about every aspect of our lives, except for our LIESURE time, can be affected by laziness.  And not only does it appear on this list of 7, it also is prominently displayed in the Bible too.

Proverbs 21:25 says…”The sluggard”…that’s another word for laziness…”The sluggard’s cravings will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work”.

In 2nd Thessalonians 3:10, Paul didn’t pull any punches when he wrote “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”!

And that probably had its reference from the very early times in the church, when those who had MUCH, would sell off their excess, and bring the proceeds to the Apostles for distribution among those who had very little or nothing.

That was a wonderful time of sharing, which we talked about last week, but one that was doomed almost from the beginning because it was so easy for people to take advantage of and that’s exactly what they did.

Actually, people have been taking advantage of the welfare systems ever since.  Although lately we have been seeing some really scary examples of that, and I’ll get to those in just a moment.

The very early church exhibited a simultaneous sense of communalism…NOT ‘communism’, but comm-UNAL-ism.  It’s a form of government where all people own all things TOGETHER, or ‘communally’.

So the first church exhibited communalism and SELFISHNESS!  Many of the believers who owned property would sell that property and bring the proceeds to the apostles to be distributed to whoever had a need.

And at the same time, the more wealthy people were in the habit of pushing the POORER folks out of the way, at the Lord’s Supper, and they would become SATED and DRUNK, while the poor folks would go HUNGRY, because of the actions of those others.

When Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, he reminded them that while he was with them, he accepted nothing from them.  Both he and his companions would work at their trades so they could support themselves while also laboring for the church, helping them to get established.

There is a very clear admonition in the Bible that says “Those who preach the Gospel, shall receive their living from the Gospel.  That was from 1st Corinthians 9:14.  There are others.

But Paul reminds them that he didn’t DO that!  And he said that if HE could work to support himself, then the able-bodied men in the church could do the same…and if they refused to work, then the church was under no obligation to FEED them either.

And that may sound harsh to you, given the current state of our welfare system.  But this is actually a sin against ourselves, as well as against society!  The person who is able, but refuses to work, but still wants things, will usually find a way to get them.

You can ask my daughter, Dixie, about that.  In her many years in banking, she was ROBBED around 40 times!…by guys who wanted things, but didn’t want to WORK for them.

Ask ANYone who has ever worked the night-shift at a convenience store, where everybody knows they keep very little CASH on hand, but they’re still prime targets for robbers, who want money, but don’t want to work for it.  Those people feel it’s easier to just TAKE what they want, from others.

The current welfare system we live under, had its roots in the Great Depression that virtually crippled the nation, way back then.  It was aimed at POOR but PROUD people, who, more often than not, would TURN it DOWN!  Remember when it was a point of PRIDE when people would say “We don’t take charity”!

And how quickly did we go from THAT, to having folks standing around with their HANDS out, saying “where’s MINE”?

I guess it’s too late to try to tell folks that they should wait to have kids, until they can afford to actually HAVE them.  So now people have children, and immediately turn to the government for assistance.

Just a while ago, in the midst of budget cuts in the state, it was proposed that they cut back on state-sponsored DAYCARE!  And you should have heard the people on the news, crying and demanding, that the GOVERNMENT has a RESPONSIBILITY, to care for THEIR children!

Folks, you gotta remember, the ‘government’ is ME…and YOU, people who have raised their OWN kids, without help from ANYone, and now I’m wondering HOW it became MY job, to take care of OTHER people’s kids?

I have personally witnessed circumstances where there were three generations, all living in the same house, and all on welfare.  Most of them were strong enough, and able-bodied enough, but they REFUSED to work, and expecting SOCIETY to support them.  Society is just another word for YOU and ME!

And I am not condemning the welfare system.  We created it, and there are some people that really NEED that kind of help.  But I sure like Paul’s statement, when he said “If a man won’t work, he won’t eat either”.  What I find upsetting is the attitude of what seems to be society as a whole, in regards TO this welfare system.

We have in this country, a governmental assistance bureau, called FEMA, “Federal Emergency Management Agency”, which has really been getting a workout lately, as they step in following large national calamities, like floods or fires or earthquakes, to provide emergency aid to people who were directly affected by the disaster, whatever it was.

We just witnessed major, back-to-back hurricanes, which afflicted some really serious damage to a large portion of the country.  And it was very telling to watch the way different people reacted to the damage.

Some rolled up their sleeves, and began cleaning up the damage and preparing to rebuild…while others just sat down on the curb, and did absolutely NOTHING to help themselves.

I recalled seeing one woman sitting on an old lawn chair near her flooded home, and telling every TV reporter that would listen to her…complaining “Nobody’s brought us ANYthing…no water, no ICE!  And who’s gonna FEED us, and where are we gonna SLEEP?  Who’s gonna provide us with housing?”

It was really embarrassing to watch these people whining like a bunch of spoiled CHILDREN, and expecting someone else to come and clean up the mess FOR them.

And then when FEMA supplied them with brand new trailers, people still complained because those weren’t GOOD enough!  And I don’t want to minimize the tragedies of HARVEY and IRMA, and the damage that was caused, but since when has America been LIKE that?

That’s not the way I remember things…not the way I WANT to remember things.  I recall when we had a problem, we worked to FIX the problem, whatever it was.  And when we had a BIG problem, several neighbors got together and THEY worked things out.  But first and foremost, we took care of ourselves.

In fact, when we lived in Florida, just to reinforce the work ethic in my kids, we took them to a little town called “Barberville”, where they were holding an old-fashioned “barn raising”, to replace one that had burned.

The walls were 20 feet tall, and were all put together with wooden pegs.  Lifting that monster into place would have been impossible, except there were 30 or 40 people there, all ready to pitch in and help.

I did that because I wanted my daughters to know…”THIS” is how you deal with problems.  And this is how we help one another out.  We work, and we help!  And the problems get taken care of.

So, WHEN did that CHANGE?  And don’t try to tell me it didn’t change.  Because when Hurricane Irma went through Florida, as soon as the winds moved away, some folks were already working, mucking the mud and water out of their damaged homes, tearing up carpets and knocking down drywall.

But the TV cameras focused on ANOTHER guy, a big-bellied guy sitting on an up-turned bucket, and voicing the SAME litany that we heard in so many other places.  He was complaining when the wind had barely died down, “Where’s FEMA?  Nobody has brought us any ICE.  We ain’t got no drinking water…and what are we gonna eat?  Where we gonna sleep?”

It was embarrassing.  People had DIED, people had lost their HOMES and all their personal mementos…lost their LIVELIHOODS!…and this guy is crying “Nobody brought us any ICE”!  And the storm was barely over!  WHEN did America GET like that?  Lazy.  SLOTHFUL!

Are you aware that God wants us to work?  When He created Adam in the first place, He put him in the Garden of Eden, and CHARGED him with taking CARE of God’s Garden.

If you’re looking for that “FREE LUNCH”, then you BETTER trust in Jesus.  Then, when this life is over, you get to enjoy prosperity that you had no part in making.

BUT, while we are HERE, we are expected to find SOME work for our hands to do, and NOT expect somebody ELSE to take care of you.  Actually, “sloth” or “laziness”, is the exact opposite of God’s plan for mankind.

If you have children, they should have some CHORES that they’re expected to do, as a RESPONSIBILITY, at a very YOUNG age.  I remember both of my children, standing on a chair at the sink, and washing dishes.  Some plastic cups and plates, so they wouldn’t get hurt, or break anything, but it was a CHORE that they were expected to do, and they knew that.

And as a result of that, they are both hard-working, conscientious young women today.  And by that same token, I have a brother who is 16 years younger than I am, and he was pampered, and waited on by my mother and as a result of that, HE is a WHINEY worker.  Nothing is ever good enough for him.  If he’s asked to work an hour overtime, or come in on a Saturday, he would complain so much you’d think he’d been asked to donate a KIDNEY or something.

I guess that defines the difference between what was called the “CAN­DO” generation, and today’s ENTITLEMENT generation.

People who grew up learning the VALUES and REWARDS of hard work, don’t mind doing an ‘honest day’s work for a day’s wages’, while those that grew up in the midst of a ‘welfare state’, think that somehow the GOVERNMENT owes them a living.

As if the ‘government’ was a big machine that prints money, and gives it to anyone who asks.  But folks, WE are the ‘government’ and any MONEY it gives away, to people who won’t work for themselves, it GETS it from me and you!…in the form of taxes.

PARENTS have the responsibility of teaching their children the value of hard work.  HUSBANDS and WIVES have the responsibility of working to keep their MARRIGE functioning, and never forget, it takes BOTH parties to do that…just ONE won’t do.

We all have a responsibility to work to support our families…our homes.  To do anything LESS than that would be to NEGLECT our Christian duties.

Some parents allow their children to practice LAZINESS, because it’s easier than trying to CORRECT them, and teach them the RIGHT way.  And when those KIDS become ADULTS, they will TAKE that ingrained laziness WITH them!

And right there somebody might ask “How can doing NOTHING, possibly be a SIN?  Well, to answer that question, we need to remember that, THEOLOGICALLY, there are two types of sins.  There are the sins of COmmission, those things that you have actually DONE!  And then there are sins of OMission, those things you SHOULD have done, but didn’t!

Remember the old Aesop’s Fable about “The Ant And The Grasshopper”?  Disney even made a short film based ON it, but of course old WALT had to go ahead and CLEAN it up a little bit, to make it more ACCEPTABLE to our collection of virtues.

In the original fable, the ant worked hard all summer, gathering seeds and stuff…food for the coming winter.  But the lazy grasshopper spent all his time lying in the sunshine and playing tunes on his back legs.

And then, in the Disney version, we see the ant all snug and warm, well-fed and relaxing in his underground home, while the poor grasshopper is outside in the snow, slowly freezing to death.  That was his end in Aesop’s version, but good old Walt wouldn’t allow THAT, so he has the ant open his door and invite the freezing grasshopper inside, where they BOTH spend the winter snug and warm.

But even though he was just trying to be NICE, Walt’s version violated GOD’S version…the premise that “he that won’t work, won’t eat either”.

Or how about a more Christian example?  The parable Jesus told about the ‘talents’…and how one servant, who was given a single talent, did NOTHING with it…HID it in the ground, and did nothing with it.  And when the Master came back, He CHASTISED that miserable servant, for doing NOTHING!

There are Christians like that, concerning their prayer life.  They are quick to run to the Lord every time they have a need, or suspect they might have a need.  But when it comes to Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, they’re too LAZY to attend that!

And that is even though we who do come together for it, almost always have a good time, and feel refreshed by our time together.  But still, most of the church will be ABSENT, when we gather to pray FOR the church, and for one another.  Just too lazy to come out and join us.

Actually the same thing is true about CHURCH attendance.  Sometimes I think I must be the best preacher in the world, because folks will come to a service, and they must become so FILLED, spiritually, that they don’t feel the need to come BACK, for WEEKS!

And you can say the same for FINANCIAL support, and WITNESSING.  The Lord has told us “happy is that servant who, when his Lord comes back, finds him working”! (Matthew 24:46)

The reason that the whole world has not been won to Christ today, right NOW…can be traced directly to BELIEVERS, who REFUSE to DO what the Lord commanded us TO do.  We are called to be WITNESSES to the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ, everywhere we go.

But MOST of us never open our mouths to witness to anybody!  And THAT is SLOTHFULNESS.  Oh sure, I understand that most of those who never witness, will BLAME that on the LACK of something else, like being too SHY, or not KNOWING enough.

Well, HOGWASH!  Jesus has promised us that HE HIMSELF will SUPPLY us with the POWER we need, to go out and witness for Him.  And He also told us that HE would put WORDS in our mouths, if we will just OPEN them.

And as for not KNOWING enough, that’s what we TEACH, in the Wednesday evening Bible Study, and the Sunday morning Sunday School…which MOST of you DON’T attend!

Or how about that parable about the 10 Virgins?  Bridesmaids called to attend to the bride at a wedding.  But half of them were too LAZY to make the necessary PREPARATIONS, and were left behind when the Groom came to collect His Bride.

And no matter what ELSE you get out of that parable of the 10 Virgins, make sure you get THIS!  THE LORD IS COMING BACK, AND WE CHRISTIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MAKING PREPARATIONS FOR THAT AMAZING EVENT!  And way too many simply are NOT!

In Proverbs 6, the one who calls himself the ‘preacher’, uses the analogy of the little ant, a tiny insect, to teach us how WE should behave.  Proverbs 6:6 says “Go to the ant, thou sluggard”…another word for LAZY…”Go to the ant, thou sluggard, and consider her ways.”

He goes on to say, that ant doesn’t have anybody standing OVER her, and forcing her to work.  There’s no ruler to punish her if she doesn’t work.  But still she knows that she MUST work, for her own survival.  So she works hard during the summer, and then enjoys the fruits OF her labor, when the summer is past.

And that tiny creature should be OUR inspiration, in both our PRIVATE lives, to support our families…and our work to serve the Lord!

I am not completely opposed to welfare programs, when they help a person who has fallen on hard times, to get back on their feet.

But I am COMPLETELY opposed to a system that allows and encourages an able-bodied person to remain unemployed, because REWARDING laziness is a sin!

IF you are a believer in Christ’s completed Work of Salvation on the Cross, then you MUST obey His commands!  And what He told us is that we are to ACTIVELY be witnesses for Him!  And that WASN’T a REQUEST!

And if you’re NOT a believer, then I need to give you an opportunity to BECOME one, right now, because the TIME OF His return is SO very CLOSE, and you DON’T want to MISS that, and be “left behind” to face what happens NEXT, because that will be HORRIBLE!