There are two categories of people who never will amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.

Why do those in these two categories fail to suc­ceed? The first group is made up of those who are rebellious. They will not obey orders. The second group are also failures, but their problem is apathy, slothfulness, the desire to just get by with a minimum amount of effort.

Since both groups are failures, we need to be careful not to fall into either of these two extremes. We remember King Saul, who talked like he was doing God’s will but in actual fact was not doing what he had been told: “Saul said unto Samuel, ‘Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites’”. Samuel rep­rimanded him by saying, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king”.

Saul certainly fit the description of those that the Lord warned us about through the prophet Isaiah: “Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions’”.

Saul did not really want to be told what was right. He tried to get Samuel to honour him when he was being rebellious and disobeying God. How many do we know who give lip service to the Lord but do just the opposite of what He has said?

To be guilty of not doing what we are told to do is rebellion and if we are rebellious, God will reject us. The rebellious group does not want to be told what to do; they want to hear pleasant things even if untrue. This group will not obey the rules, and for this they will perish. Jeremiah says about this group, “Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD”.

The apathetic group is much larger than we might expect. They want to do as little as possible; they try to find out what is the least that can be done and only do that. Every company has employees in this category. They may do enough not to get fired but they do not do enough to be promoted. When it comes to service to God, this group is in real trouble. Jesus tells us, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do’”. So our best efforts are merely our duty.

Are any of us foolish enough to think that God will be satisfied with our second best? Are we holding out on God? Could we support ecclesial activities that we now neglect? Do we think that we have the right to for­sake the assembling of ourselves together? Whenever we don’t support the work of the truth, we are saying by our actions that we consider the work in the Truth less important than whatever we did that replaced it.

If we fail to do our Bible readings, what was it we did that was more important? If we fail to pray, do we realize that God has time to listen if we only take time to pray? If we neglect the fatherless and the widows, do we think that our religion is pure? James says it is not.

Let us make sure that we are not among those who cannot do what they are told nor one of those who can do nothing else. Solomon tells us that “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”. Let us “be steadfast , unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord”.