When Shirley and I lived in South Carolina we came home to visit family during the holidays. One morning I got up early and drove into Tolar to get a cup of coffee and a newspaper, and drive around the little town I grew up in. It was special to see the sun rise on that special place we had left over 23 years earlier. Whenever we came to Tolar I usually made a point to go by the house that was my childhood home. Since my parents sold it in 1978 it had become badly neglected and run down. The last time I had seen the house it had been vacant for years and open to the weather. It suffered from the breakdown that all houses do when they are not tended to and cared for. It had never been a fancy house but it had been a good house, a happy house. But this chilly, winter morning, it was gone. What had been left of the house had been torn down to make way for something else or nothing else. All that was left were tall weeds growing in an empty lot.
The Bible says that Christians “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). Is it possible for us to neglect the spiritual house the way some people neglect their material houses? Absolutely. If we do not tend to and care for our spiritual house it will break down and fall in. Why does this happen?
1. It happens because of ignorance. You cannot build your spiritual house any way you please and expect it to stand. There are many people in this world that are building “spiritual houses” that are built, not according to God’s blueprint or upon God’s foundation but one of their own making. They believe what they choose and behave as they choose. They have built their houses. The Lord has not. The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). The one whose house will stand is the one who has built upon the sure foundation of the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27). Anything else is built on shifting sand.
2. It happens because of apathy. Is your spiritual house crumbling because you simply don’t care? As Ezekiel prophesied the doom of Judah he wrote, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house’” (Ezekiel 12:1-2). But many people who are apathetic would never describe themselves as rebellious. “It’s not that I don’t care”, they would say, “It’s just that there are so many other things in life that demand my attention”. Jesus said that with such people, “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
3. It happens because of laziness. Solomon wrote, “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34). Some say, “I know I need to come to church or study my Bible but I’m just too tired. I need my rest.” Read the above passage again. Rest is fine and needed. But if you’re getting so much that you’re neglecting your spiritual privileges and responsibilities, you’re getting too much. The Bible says, “Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof— then the house falls in” (Ecclesiastes 10:18, CEV). Have you noticed that water is leaking through the ceiling in your spiritual house?