According to a newspaper article I read recently, queueing in a bank could be a little less dull if a plan by the National Australia Bank takes off. Customers there will be treated to iPads and computers for Internet access, delicately perfumed air and soothing music to help to ease the stresses of waiting in line for the bank teller. A prototype of the branch to be unveiled, dubbed the “bank of the future” had entertainment facilities in the form of children’s films, trivia and free Wi-Fi.
I was reflecting – if I start out to do my banking in the future during my lunchtime, I may end up being “acceptably” entertained instead, during time which does not belong to me but my employer. The intent of the retailer is so that I will not notice the time I spent lingering to obtain the service I came for. Hopefully this does not translate to spiritual lives as well.
Definition of linger :
to continue to stay, especially through reluctance to leave
to be unnecessarily slow in doing something; delay; loiter
Lingering concerns are that we could become so distracted that we
– fail to strike while the iron is hot for spiritual opportunities which may arise
– John Greenleaf Whittier expressed the concept of regret poetically, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.’”
– accept delays which should not be accepted due to inefficiencies or other distractions by those who would minister to us
– we lose focus in our pursuit of our goal for ministry and lose our way by emphasizing supporting structures and processes
– lingering could lead to compromises which lead to straying from God.
The psalmist of Psalm 111:10 writes, “A good understanding have all those who do His commandments,” and its converse is equally true. If we slacken our resolve to keep all of God’s commands, even those we might deem as less important, we will gradually lose our God-given understanding of His way to eternal life.
While Solomon lingered he compromised with God’s way because of expediency; he decided to give in to his wives’ idolatrous practices for personal and political peace or advantage I Kings 11:1-8 . Compromise weakens or gives up our principles or ideals for reasons of expediency. Expediency does or considers what is of selfish use or advantage rather than what is right or just. Wisdom is the right application of true knowledge, and compromise erodes it quickly. We cannot compromise the wisdom God has given us by His spiritual revelation if we are to “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” Hebrews 3:14 . Compromise can steal away our eternal life if we are not careful! Solomon’s example teaches us a lesson about how dangerous compromise with God’s law is, particularly seemingly inconsequential compromises can lead to greater sins and the resultant difficulty in repentance. The Bible gives no indication that Solomon repented before he died. The more we compromise, the harder it is to return to “the faith . . . once delivered” (Jude 3). Solomon, having learned the hard way, writes, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”.
Satan begins making his inroads in our lives by influencing us to compromise on God’s law and follow our own way. Once we compromise, the process of sin has begun, and its ultimate end is death James 1:14-16. The time to stop the process is in the beginning, when the situation and the pulls are still small and simple. Nip sin in the bud! And the enduring consequences of compromise will never have a chance to bloom. Solomon compromised on matters he probably considered well into the gray areas—to do things his way rather than God’s. The danger of such reasoning is that small compromises weaken character, and over time, they lead to major sins.
If we are lingering in the worldliness that surrounds us? It will take faith to walk away. Lot believed to such depth that he urged his sons-in-law, and yet he lingered. Lot knew the angels were there, standing by and waiting for him and his family. He was trifling when he should have been hasty. He was cold when he should have been hot. He was loitering when he should have been hurrying. The world around us is smoldering embers that will soon burst into the flames of the greatest tribulation that has ever hit the entirety of the earth. Are we lingering while the world is getting ready to burn? Is Lot an example of us?
Are we thrilled to hear good, sound preaching; believe that time is short, but act as though we wish it were long; holiness is beautiful but it is impossible to be that holy and spiritual. We dread personal sacrifice and shrink from self-denial; have horror of being considered narrow-minded, and so go to the opposite extreme becoming so tolerant to try to please everybody; forgetting to first please God, trying to keep up with the world; ingenious at discovering reasons for not separating from it, giving all kinds of justifications for attending questionable amusements; wild, violent, sexual movies; or holding on to questionable relationships; persuading ourselves that it does good or mix a little with the world; do not choose to battle with besetting sins – laziness, a bad temper,pride, excessive self-concern, vanity, or impatience, justifying them by thinking, “Well, that’s just the way I am, and I guess that’s the way I’ll always be.”
Do not be hot or cold or He will spew us out. Though ceremonially going through the motions, the Laodiceans lacked thorough dedication and devotion to God’s way in every aspect of life. Do we see the Laodicean characteristics in congregations ? shallow and casual relationships that show little true concern, intolerance, impatience, strong opinions about trivial things, offense, harsh judging, and division. It produces busy people who feel as if they are accomplishing a great deal because they seem to get many things done. However, the busy-ness is spent on things of minor spiritual importance. Meanwhile, the relationship with God, while existent, is allowed to be neglected. That is what Laodiceanism is. People bring it in from the world where God is a figurehead but with whom there is no relationship.Laodiceanism is deceitful because the Bible reveals that the person afflicted with it is unaware that he has it. He is blind to it, but God certainly is not because He is being neglected in this relationship. Having rejected traditional, biblical moral standards, many of such people have no stable moral code to fall back on. They handle each situation based on its own merits, historical precedent, and their own experiences, feelings, desires, and needs.
When disobedience increases, agape grows cold. In Ephesians, they had left their first love—their first agape—and He commands them to repent (Revelation 2:4,5) that is, to turn away from their lawlessness. When there is compromise, or the setting aside of God’s standard of righteousness and holiness, then the submissive love toward God and the sacrificial love toward man will begin to grow cold. It is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. A cause of this deterioration is found in the preceding verse: “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” Matthew 24:11. While a true prophet always upholds God’s law . (Deuteronomy 13:3-4, Isaiah 8:19-20, Romans 8:7) , a false prophet is willing to compromise with God’s standard of holiness when it suits him. Followers of a false teacher will likewise slide into lawlessness, becoming separated from God Isaiah 59:1-3)
Sin literally means “to miss the mark.” Sin is imperfectly loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and imperfectly loving our neighbor as ourselves.
What should we do?
– Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” When many are letting their relationships with God deteriorate, the emphasis is on patient, active endurance.
– We may need to take a step back and look for facets of God’s love that are present, rather than focusing on what may be absent. We have to remember that nothing inhibits or damages our ability to see things clearly like focusing on the self.
– As Paul writes this, when he says “watch,” he is not speaking about an occasional absence of sleep but a determined effort at vigilance so that our spiritual liberty will not be endangered by compromise with anything in our environment.
– It means not playing with temptations. He is telling us to be stable, not to be flitting from one fad and fashion to another like the people in this book were doing. He tells them, “Be like men,” meaning, “Be mature, stable, responsible to duty.” Being strong in God is not something inherent within us. It does not come naturally. Human nature is at war against God. It resists seeking Him. Being strong in God is derived from the relationship with Him, and this relationship must be worked on, even as a good relationship with another human being must be worked on.
– Finally, he speaks of love, the love of God. Love is doing what is right from God’s perspective. Remember, this is the same apostle who admonishes Timothy to rebuke people before all–even right before the entire congregation. If that is what it took to turn a person back to God, that was what was to be done, and it was an act of love. Love is being responsible, honest, loyal, trustworthy, faithful. Love is being zealous toward God, and it is many other things as well.