"A Little Folding of the Hands"

Leslie Diestelkamp

The Holy Spirit clearly teaches us that laziness; indolence and idleness in the physical realm will bring one to poverty. He said, "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty come . . . " (Prov. 6: 10, 11). But just as we can easily see the truth of this principle in physical things, we should also be fully aware of spiritual poverty that is produced by the same process. Consider at least these three matters:

1. Christians may often be inclined to fold their hands in slumber while immorality impoverishes the land and perhaps even the brotherhood. Read your Bible and notice that God has always respected and loved good people. Of course they must be obedient to his commands, but some seem to think they can be baptized and then live like Satan and yet be approved of the Lord. And many who would not think of engaging in immoral practices turn their face the other way, refusing to be alarmed and declining to get excited about corruption. Preachers are tempted to preach about everything else and leave divorce, adultery, dishonesty, profanity and other such things alone. Elders may be inclined to rebuke the gainsayers, admonish the indifferent and coax the complacent, at the same time folding their hands regarding wickedness. Parents contribute to spiritual poverty when they are unconcerned about dancing, drinking, and other such evils among the youth.

2. Some brethren may think the battle is over regarding institutionalism, and without really intending to do so, may cause many to be overcome with that dreadful spiritual affliction. We never can afford to quit teaching against instrumental music in worship, against wrong church activities, against unscriptural church organization, and other innovations. These issues are never "settled." Just a little slumber on the part of the faithful and ruin will come to many. Constant vigilance, wakefulness and watchfulness are necessary to avoid this spiritual poverty that actually means apostasy.

3. But when we have opposed everything that is wrong, we must stand for the things that are right. Perhaps here we "fold our hands" the most often. We are aware of the obligation, we are conscious of the opportunity and we acknowledge humanity's necessity. But we often seem to say, "Let others do it." Many of us may content ourselves with tearing down false doctrines. We join the wrecking crew and work feverishly but when it comes time to build we engage only in a "little folding of the hands." Preachers may often think of themselves as defenders of the faith instead of sowers of the Seed. The elders may sometimes be more concerned with keeping error out than they are with bringing souls in. And herein dies another vital error: we often utilize all our opportunities to teach the Word locally but we fail to "lift up our eyes" to other fruitful fields. In fact, we sometimes preach our heart out to people who never will obey and "fold our hands in slumber" concerning strange people, far away who are so eager to hear, believe and surrender to Christ. And while we fold our hands honest souls, precious to the Lord, eager for salvation but ignorant of the Way drift on in the worst kind of spiritual poverty that leads them to eternal ruin. And what of us? If we carelessly sleep now, will we be less poor than those whose slumber we could have stopped? "Awake, thou that sleepest" (Eph. 5.14).

November 1966