Proverbs 22:13 says, "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets." If a lion were really outside of a person's house, he would be wise to stay inside. However, in that it is a slothful (or lazy) man speaking, it is clear that the man in verse 13 is simply making an excuse for not working. (Some think the man is saying this, "If I go in the country, a lion will get me, if I go in the town, I might get murdered.")
Today, many people make excuses to shirk important spiritual responsibilities. One common excuse given by people to justify the neglect of spiritual duties is that they simply do not have enough time. Certainly, there are a limited number of hours in the day. For all of us, there are things we would like to do, but we simply do not have enough time. Yet, for example, if you have a plumbing problems in your house which necessitates your water being turned off, would you take the time to make the repairs or to call a plumber and even wait for him to come if necessary? For most everyone, the answer would be "yes." Why would we be able to make the time for these needed repairs? The reason is that it is important to have water in our homes.
Generally, we make a mental list of tasks we have to do each day (Some people literally will write out a list.) Those tasks we consider the most important will be placed at the top of our list. For example, we have get up, eat, get dressed, and go to work each day. Further, if a person is nearly out of gas, he will make the time to stop and buy some. Since buying gas is important, very few people will run out of gas on a regular basis because they do not have the time to get it. Each day, we work our way down a "list" of what we use our limited time for. The most important items are at the top of the list; less important tasks (such as cleaning out our garage, for example) are at the bottom of the list.
How does this apply to serving God? "I don't have the time" is an excuse used by many Christians for not doing what they ought to do. We say we don't have time, for example, to visit the sick and the erring, attend Gospel Meetings, study the Bible, teach a class, prepare a sermon, read a bulletin, be an elder, or to work in maintaining the church building. Is "time" really the issue or is it just an excuse? Our problem is usually one of priorities, not time. It seems many people have spiritually-related tasks, such as those listed above, too far down their list. Consequently, there is not enough time to get as far down on the daily list as these endeavors are located. Typically having priority over spiritual endeavors are such activities as playing golf, watching TV, sleeping late, reading a book, simply sitting around, or maybe surfing on the web.
Have you considered the difference between "important" and "urgent"? Most Christians would label visiting a sick person or teaching a Bible class as important, but we need to label such endeavors as "urgent." That which we only label as important may not ever get done; that which we label as "urgent" usually will get accomplished quickly. From a practical standpoint, however, many Christians will label watching their favorite television programs as "urgent" and, sadly, will label Bible study only as important.
We all need to start zealously serving God, but we think that we do not have the time it takes to do so. We say, "I can't, there is a lion outside." Not having the time is just an excuse; it is not usually an issue of time. It is a matter of choosing what is most important to us. Romans 12:11 (NKJV) says we are not to lag in diligence but are to be "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
By Mike Johnson
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