Let us watch unto prayer, and be diligent in our Master’s business, ‘fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ My dear friends, we do not exhort you to serve Christ, to be saved by it. David was saved. I only speak to you who are saved, and I beg and beseech of you to take notice of David’s fall, and of the sloth that was at the beginning of it, as a warning to yourselves. Some temptations come to the industrious, but all temptations attack the idle. Notice the invention used by country people to catch wasps. They will put a little sweet liquor into a long and narrow-necked phial. The do-nothing wasp comes by, smells the sweet liquor, plunges in, and is drowned. But the bee comes by, and if she does stop for a moment to smell, yet she enters not, because she has honey of her own to make; she is too busy in the work of the commonwealth to indulge herself with the tempting sweets. Master Greenham, a Puritan divine, was once waited upon by a woman who was greatly tempted. Upon making enquiries into her way of life, he found she had little to do, and Greenham said, ‘That is the secret of your being so much tempted. Sister, if you are very busy, Satan may tempt you, but he will not easily prevail, and he will soon give up the attempt.’ Idle Christians are not so much tempted of the devil as they are tempting the devil to tempt them. Idleness sets the door of the heart ajar, and asks Satan to come in; but if we are occupied from morning till night, if Satan shall get in, he must break through the door. Under sovereign grace, and next to faith, there is no better shield against temptation than being ‘Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’
For meditation: ‘Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do’ (Isaac Watts). The more we are occupied with the Lord’s business, the less time we will have for Satan’s business. When busy for the Lord, Nehemiah was tempted to meet his enemies in the plain Ono. His reply? A plain ‘O, no’ (Nehemiah 6:2–4)! Could you do the same?