Father, I'd Rather Not Do It At All<br>
Some years ago there was a commercial on television that featured a daughter and her mother.
The daughter said to the mother in frustration, "Mother, I'd rather do it myself."
Today the title of this message is "Father, I'd rather not do it at all."
I have always thought that whenever anyone is born again, that he or she will automatically want
to start growing up as a Christian.
Now I know better than that.
The truth is that many newborn believers enjoy being spiritual babies.
When God says, "My child, let me help you grow," many young Christians, of every age group,
quickly answers Him, "Father, I really rather not grow up.
I want to stay like I am.
Whatever you want me to do to become mature, I'd rather not do it at all."
Christians like this come in several varieties.
There are perpetual infants, and I'd like to mention some of them.
There are the indulgers.
They aren't bad people, it's just that when the alarm goes off on Sunday morning if they even bothered
to set it Saturday night they just roll over and shut it off, and go back to sleep.
They have convinced themselves that it can't hurt them to miss Bible study and morning worship.
They will get along without them, and they can get along with me is their attitude.
They will confess to being Christians, but they are not growing Christians.
Their attitude is "Father, I'd rather not do it at all."
Then, there are the excusers.
"I work six days a week, and Sunday is the only day I have to rest."
"I used to work hard at the church when the children were home, but now it's time
for the younger people to take over.
I think I deserve a rest."
"I don't get anything out of the church so why go?"
All excuses add up to the same thing: "Father, I'd rather not grow anymore."
Then there are the complainers.
"All they want down at the church is my money, I'm sick and tired of it."
"They keep changing things so that it is not like it used to be in the good old days."
"As long as so-and-so is in charge you can count me out."
Same song, umpteenth verse: "Father, I'd rather not grow anymore."
Then there are the withdrawers.
"Nobody speaks to me at church. Nobody pays any attention to me."
"I like to sneak in after the service is started, and slip out during the benediction."
"Church is okay, but I don't want to get involved."
Just another variation on the theme, "Father I'd rather not do it at all!"
Galatians 6:1-10 is just the prescription the doctor ordered for those who are idle.
Paul leaves little room for taking it easy.
So open your Bibles to Galatians 6:1-10 as we read:
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gentle.
But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Carry each other's burdens (do I hear someone saying, "But Father, I'd rather not.")
And in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Each one should test his own actions.
Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
for each one should carry his own load.
("But Father, I'd rather not to my share it all.")
"Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
(A Christian cannot just receive, he must serve and return even if he would rather not.)
"Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows.
(Therefore if he sows nothing spiritually, he will reap the same.)
"The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction.
The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
(But Father, I'd rather not sow at all.")
"Let us not become weary in doing good, and at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
("But Father, I'd rather not do it at all!")
This passage summarizes some essential elements of spiritual growth.
It takes for granted that the Christian will be a humble, forgiving partner in the body of Christ.
It also adds a stern warning against the laziness and irresponsibility that prevent the desired growth.
We are never to grow weary in doing good.
We are never to be unresponsive to the needs of any, especially, our fellow Christians,
and we are never to think we can hood-wink God.
If we do, we will reap what we sow.
The Bible constantly reminds us that God is much more concerned about what we do
than He is about what we promise.
The parable of Jesus of the two sons puts God's case as pointedly as possible:
"What do you think?
There was a man who had two sons.
He went to the first and said, "Son, go to work today in the vineyard."
He answered, "I will not."
But later he changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard.
Then the father went to the other son, and said the same thing.
He answered, "I will, sir, but he did not go."
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering
the kingdom of God ahead of you.
For John came to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him,
but tax collectors and prostitutes did."
Why didn't the brother obey his father after promising to do so?
Was he rebellious?
Did he hate his father?
Based on what we observe in ourselves, we can conclude that he was just lazy or irresponsible.
What then shall we say of this brother's later-day descendents?
Shall we call them lazy or irresponsible?
How many children have heard sermon after sermon preached to them on the subject in their home.
So parents can become a nag.
We are not talking about basically good people, but undependable people.
They say they will do it.
They promise to be there.
They assure us that we can count on them but we end up picking up after them
because they would rather not do it after all.
So we preach to our children.
We use harsh words.
We use words like duty and dependability and responsibility and trustworthiness and maturity.
So when we catch our older children acting irresponsible, we might sometimes ask them,
"How old are you?"
And we may appeal to them to act their age, in the hope that when they are adults
(as they really are becoming now) they will act as adults are supposed to act.
I read an article that asked, "Are you one of these people?"
This is a story about four people:
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
"There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody asked Anybody."
So, of course, it wasn't done.
The rule of thumb in organizations is that no more than 20% of the members do at least 80% of the work
and give 80% of the money.
The rest would rather not be bothered.
This is not just a matter of organizational health.
Personal maturity and mental health are involved.
M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist, writes in "The Road Less Traveled" that the chief enemy in his work
to bring his patients to mental health is invariably their own laziness.
He calls that laziness sin.
He goes on to say that, "You wonder what they will think of themselves in old age
when they review what they have accomplished in life."
Wouldn't it be sad to reach the conclusion late in life that much of what we have done is meaningless.
It reminds us of Olmsted's Law:
"After all is said and done
a lot more is said than done."
We say we want to do meaningful things, but we often say more than we are willing to do.
I believe that most people believe that our work matters.
This was the conclusion of a study conducted some years ago for a new England manufacturing firm.
Among other questions, participants were asked, "Why do you work?"
Surprisingly, the most frequent answer had nothing to do with money.
Some said, "To feel useful."
Another said, "To have a sense of accomplishment."
Another answer was "To lead a productive life."
People wanted to feel they counted for something to somebody.
I believe that everybody would like to count for something, but then, not everybody would like to do
what it takes to achieve that goal.
Irresponsible or lazy people never get there.
And many Christians have grown tired or stale, and get stuck in their little routines.
They have long since dedicated themselves to schedules of sameness.
In a simple word they have stopped growing.
If it wasn't for younger Christians whose enthusiasm makes up for their occasional lack of wisdom
or judgment (qualities that we old-timers pride ourselves on to excuse our lack of enthusiasm),
how would the Lords work be done?
While we devote uncounted hours to our important committee meetings and our frequent fellowships
with fellow Christians, we rely on the youngsters in the faith to the work of evangelism
and the work of service.
But the fact is it is the work that God has called us to do.
I'm afraid that we may be as guilty as some Confederate veterans were.
After the decisive battle of Appomattox, an old farmer absolutely loyal to the Confederate cause,
decided to hire any of Gen. Robert E Lee's vets who needed a few days work
to make enough money to get home.
The farmer was uneducated, but he wasn't ignorant.
He grouped the ex-soldiers into working squads according to their service rank.
A visiting neighbor asked him about the first group he saw.
He answered, "Them is privates, sir, of Lee's army."
Then the neighbor asked about the second group.
He answered, "Them is lieutenants and captains, and they works fairly well, but not as good as the privates."
When he asked about the third group, the colonels, and what kind of workers they were,
the wily old farmer answered, "Now, neighbor, you will never hear me say one word ag'in any man
who fit in the Southern Army,
I ain't a-ginine to hire no generals."
There really isn't much room for generals in the service of the Lord.
Certainly not if the generals have given up working in favor of ordering.
Jesus said, we must not allow ourselves to become like the Gentiles who enjoy lording it over others',
are leading is to serve and our growing comes to working. (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus hasn't called us to be the head of the church He is the head of the church.
We have all seen some many-headed churches.
They are monsters.
The church needs only one head, but it can use many hands and feet.
I love the story that I heard many years ago of the little French village that boasted
a lovely marble statue of Jesus Christ.
However, during the war along with so much else in the village, the statue was badly damaged.
When peace came, the villagers lovingly collected the fragments, and glued them back together.
But to their dismay, they couldn't find a trace of the hands.
Some of the villagers thought the whole statue was ruined, since they couldn't imagine
a Christ without hands.
But one of the villagers had the imagination to transform the defect into a virtue.
The villager attached a plaque to the pedestal: "I have no hands, but your hands."
Some years later someone wrote these words, inspired by the incomplete statue:
"I have no hands but your hands to do my work today.
I have no feet but your feet to lead men on the way.
I have no tongues but your tongues to tell men how I died.
I have no help but your help to bring men to God's side."
Bob Wieland addressed a church from his wheelchair.
The 37--year-old veteran of Vietnam had no legs to stand on.
They were blown away in the war.
He spoke about hunger and his determination to do something to relieve the world/s starving population.
The pastor said: "We sat there in our own well-fed comfort body forced us to focus on
the terrible toll that hunger takes:
He stated that 28 people starve to death every minute, and 40,000 starve to death every day,
and 14 million starve to death every year.
Bob just couldn't stand it.
He had to do something, but what could a legless man do?
He decided that he could use his arms.
So on September 8:1982 he left Knotts Berry Farm in California to began his march for hunger
across the United States.
He took 6 million steps on his hands all the way to Washington D. C.
He could've said, "Father I'd rather not!
I have no legs.
I am handicapped.
Surely, you don't expect me to do something like that?"
He could have said that, but he didn't.
So he used what he had to serve the Lord, and he is a growing Christian.
Our heavenly Father says, "My child, give me something that you have.
I'll help you grow into the person you were intended to be when I made you, and when I made you anew."
The do I hear some saying, "But Father, I'd rather not do it at all."
William Wilberforce is one of England's giants, but you would have never known that to look at him.
Small, sickly, and so unsightly that when he first stood before the British House of Commons,
the members broke into embarrassed smiles.
Then he began to speak, and their smirks turned to respectful attention.
This insignificant-appearing little man, more than any other person in England,
over-turned his country's slavery institution.
Giving everything he had to the cause of freedom for the slaves, he transformed himself
into a giant along the way.
Someone said of him, "The little minnow became a whale."
He could have said, "Father, I'd rather not."
But he chose to grow.
There is no escaping this message for the Scripture is so clear that we cannot miss it:
"Carry each other's burdens
fulfill the law of Christ."
"Each one should carry his own load."
"Anyone who receives instruction in the Word must share all good things with his instructor."
"A man reaps what he sows."
"Let us not become weary in doing good."
"Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family believers."
These are things that we must do even when we would rather not do them at all!
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White