Archive for August, 2016

Afflictions and Trials

“The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestined, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of Him who numbers the hairs of our head.
This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the purpose designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction is not haphazard—the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and stretching out the heavens commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients that compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.
The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. “He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33).
A mother’s heart cries, “Spare my child”; but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hardmouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of comfort that He who has established the boundary lines of our lives has also determined the boundaries of our tribulation.”
-Charles Spurgeon

Gospel Wind in our Sails

“While I believe that it’s generally true that those who are forgiven much love much and that those who are in view of God’s mercies will present their bodies as a living sacrifice, we have to recognize the deep depravity in our own hearts even as regenerate believers. Often I find myself reveling in the glories of the gospel for my own delight, oblivious to the “reasonable service” that it yields toward my neighbor. I can be writing a paragraph on the wonders of grace while I snap at my wife or children for interrupting me. We do need Christ to remind us, by his Spirit, through his law, that the gospel doesn’t stop at our own personal security and welfare, but drives us out to our neighbors in love and service. A good Shepherd guides his sheep. A good Father rebukes those whom he loves. We need to hear the very specific and uncomfortable rebukes of the law as well as the tender comfort of the gospel.
We always need the gospel wind in our sails and the directional equipment on our dashboard. Without the former, we’re dead in the water; without the latter, we’re blown all over the map.”
-Michael Horton

The Sin of Sloth

“Slothfulness thrives in busyness.
This shocking manifestation of sloth is what I call the zombie. The slothful zombie may live a very busy life, but he does just enough to get things done, so he can get back to enjoying his comforts. Duties are what he performs, but comfort is what he craves. The zombie lives his routine in a fog, sleepwalking between weekends.
Frederick Buechner writes this of the zombie:
Sloth is not to be confused with laziness. A slothful man may be a very busy man. He is a man who goes through the motions, who flies on automatic pilot. Like a man with a bad head cold, he has mostly lost his sense of taste and smell . . . people come and go, but through glazed eyes he hardly notices them. He is letting things run their course. He is getting through his life.
Richard John Neuhaus defines contemporary sloth as “evenings without number obliterated by television, evenings neither of entertainment nor of education, but a narcotic defense against time and duty.”
This is sloth at its deadly best: trying to preserve personal comforts through the candy of endless amusements. Sloth is a chronic quest for worldly comfort that compounds boredom — boredom with God, boredom with people, boredom with life.
The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort. It is epidemic in our day
Sloth is a craving for personal comfort at all costs. And it is costly:
 Sloth will cost you joy in God, in your daily routines.
 Sloth will blind you to how God designed vocation as a means for you to love others.
 Sloth will blind you to the needs you can fill.
 Sloth will cost you your love for the local church.
 Sloth will dull you with endless amusements.
 Sloth will blind you to your urgent need for Christ.
 Sloth will close your eyes to the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ.
 Sloth will mute your worship.
 Sloth will rob you of true leisure and refreshment.
 Sloth will kill your richest joys.
The sloth is a comfort control-freak — an illusion of power that robs all our true joy.
Freed from Sloth
There is hope for a “lazy busy” sloth like me. I have hope because God hates my sloth.
Sloth tells me all things should work together for my comfort. God says, I will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
Huge difference.
Being comforted is not the same thing as being made comfortable. God is not in the business of making us comfortable. Eternally safe in Christ? Yes. Free from his wrath? Yes. Victorious over sin? Amen. But comfortable? No.
Human beings were never designed to flourish in a state of permanent vacation. That promise is a sham.
In love, God will remove comforts from our lives, which is the essence of trials. When we get overly comfortable with something, we start to sink into spiritual slumber. And then lightning falls from the sky. The comfort is taken away, and we are jolted back to spiritual alertness.
Through trials, God says, “I love you enough to remove the comforts you crave to make room for the joy in Christ you need.” God is in control. That’s our comfort.
The glorious truth is that in Christ we have been freed from the dominion of sloth. No longer does the addiction to comfort rule over us. No! We are free in Christ. We don’t sleep all day trying to find joy. That’s suicide. We don’t live in a zombie-like fog, just shuffling toward the next day off, the next vacation, the next escape. No! We are freed to enjoy Jesus now, in daily sacrifice.”
-Tony Reinke