13 ¶ Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Literally, this Proverbs carries the note you’ve heard before; that laziness brings poverty more assuredly than any other character trait. If you want to be successful you have to be willing to work and work hard, long hours. Ask anyone who has started their own business what kind of hours they put in or anyone who works in a low paying job that they love what kind of work week they have. Don’t be too much in love with resting and sleeping. Be willing to get up early and go, go, go.
And certainly, even in the early church when the churches took care of their own poor there were rules regarding willingness to work.
2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
There is another meaning here, I think, for Christians. There is the sleep of just sitting passively in the pews in church and going along with whatever politician or media celebrity happens to sprinkle in a few “God’s” into their speech outside of church. This sleep comes from not reading God’s word, not truly listening to what their Pastor says, not praying, and not being involved in their own and the church’s ministry of trying to lead people closer to Christ; both saved and unsaved, and ministering to them.
The more you are uninvolved and unengaged with worship, study, letting God work on you through your reading and hearing of His word and willingness to be changed by it, and the work of your church body the more dull your spiritual life becomes. It is almost impossible to maintain an alive and wakeful relationship with the Saviour if you aren’t united to a body of believers regularly, even if only a small number in a house church.
This dullness and sleep of the spirit, this laziness in regards to spiritual matters leads to a poverty of God’s words; a famine.
Amos 8:11 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.
Churches become no more than a weekly harangue or gentle serenade of a man’s opinions, wishful thinking, or political agenda. The more the Christians in the pews choose this sleep of the sheep over an active relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through His words preached and read, and through believers working hand in hand for the benefit of others in order to glorify Christ, the more impoverished they become spiritually.
Christians don’t have their eyes open. They’re nodding off in the pews and at home. They hear but they don’t hear and they see but they don’t see. Unsaved men creep into our churches. They see a great opportunity to have the rule over sleeping Christians who have no discernment and just want to be led about by the nose by some charismatic, well dressed, charlatan who will tell them what to think and how to think it.
Opportunists and criminals see the independent churches as a great way to move in and to gain financially or to abuse women and children because once in the pulpit they know they can’t be easily removed and some sleeping Christians will follow them even over a cliff.
Open your eyes, Christian. Wake up. There are Pastors out there preaching so hard about homosexual behavior, so fearful and paranoid, with every other sermon being a screaming, spittle spewing rant about “those people” that you have to wonder if they’re a little “light in the loafers” themselves and its wearing on them. The other possibility is that they think there’s a lot of “in the closet” members of their congregation. It’d be great if they preached against gossip and talebearing as much; things that affect their congregations more often.
There are Pastors out there who preach such vitriol and anger at women you wonder if they’re trying to speak for God from His word sincerely or they have a deep, underlying animosity and disrespect for and hatred of women.
The ministry of a sleeping church attracts some Pastors out for financial gain, seeking to use the collective ability of the church body to obtain loans, houses, and vehicles.
There are Pastors with such a seeming hunger to mete out punishment on other people’s children that you can’t help but wonder, are they concerned about raising Godly children through the church or are they simply sick, sadists looking for an opportunity to satisfy their urges?
These people, some unsaved opportunists, some saved but devil possessed men made drunk with the power of pastoral authority and the untouchableness of the “man o’ God” are nothing new. I have read papers about imposters posing as preachers even in the Colonial era when it was often a paid job, paid for by the state.
I would say that next to congregations not being disciplined, faithful Bible readers and students, attending church meetings whenever possible to hear good preaching that will change them, the biggest problem our churches face today is unsaved and wicked con-men, effective and pathological liars smelling the opportunity of personal gain or perverted satisfaction manipulating the sleep of the Christians in the churches they preside over. In fact, the phonies, frauds, and fakes would not be able to even darken the door of a church that wasn’t spiritually asleep.
Be thankful for a Pastor that is truly a believer and handles God’s word with care and love, whose commitment to Christ is evident in every word and action. Be thankful for a congregation that reads and takes in the Bible, the sermons, and the teaching. Be thankful for a body of Christ that is in unity and whose discernment is wide awake. There are many, many churches that are sleeping out there. Once in awhile they’ll wake up long enough to hear a phrase they want to hear, a token from God’s word about some wicked “other”, but then it’s back to sleep.
If you’re asleep now, open your eyes and pay attention to God’s word and you’ll be satisfied by the bread from heaven. You’ll be filled with it as by reading and hearing God’s word, submitting yourself to it to be changed, obeying it, not being lazy or a sluggard, you’ll be satisfied through God’s word, little w, with God’s Word, capital W, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wake up, Christian. One of the sad facts of living in a fallen world is that if it looks like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, and walks like a skunk it probably is a skunk, but if it looks like an angel of light, it could be Satan.
2Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.