Sloth is neglect. It isn’t necessarily doing nothing, simply neglecting what we need to do. Not making spiritual things a priority. Its possible to be busy active in Christian things yet neglect our spiritual wellbeing. It may be that we want to be comfortable and resist anything that makes demands. So we divert our desires for greater spiritual reality. It’s much more comfortable sometimes to settle for the superficial and to coast along. It’s a battle we face every day we raise our head from the pillow. How do we move from having unfulfilled desires of breaking out of this state to acting on them?
The Book of Proverbs has much to say about slothfulness in general that can also be applied to spiritual things. Andrew Gray did this in various sermons and the following is an updated extract from one of them. He believed that slothfulness and neglect of our duty in spiritual things was very common and is therefore very direct in his words. He warns that slothfulness is like a creeping spiritual disease that gradually kills off conviction of sin, resolutions, desires for God, promptings from the Holy Spirit and our enjoyment of God. It also kills to a certain extent our faith and love, our hatred of sin and the spiritual strength a Christian has to resist temptation. It’s the reason that our spiritual life and liveliness may be very weak. All this makes it an urgent matter for us to consider.
1. Consider Your Need
Do you want to be diligent? Get a vivid impression of what you need from God engraved on your heart. Why are Christians today not diligent? It is because they do not know their need. We say that “necessity makes dumb men orators” – we can add that necessity makes lame men to labour.
If we say our need we would take no refusal. Necessity is one of the most unmannerly things possible. It will not go away from God’s door until He answers it. Necessity would make us diligent in the things to which He calls us. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him” (Ps. 34:6). It would be an excellent sight, if every one of us got a sight of our necessities. Some of us are as great strangers to our own hearts, as if we were living a thousand miles away from one another.
2. Seek to Know God Truly
Be much acquainted with God and seek to have much of the knowledge of the Most High. This is clear when we compare Job 22:27 with v. 21. If we have acquainted ourselves with God, the evidence of this will be that we will pray to Him. It could be translated, “many strong prayers”. Why do we correspond so little with God? Do we know Him or not (John 4:10)?
3. Consider Death and Judgment
Live in view of death and judgment approaching. Live in view of the fact that you must appear before Him. This would provoke you to be diligent. This is clear by comparing these two passages: 2 Corinthians 5 and Ecclesiastes 9:17. The reasoning is that eternity approaches and you can do nothing after it has come. I am sure that if we thought in the morning that we are now a day nearer eternity than before, it would be impossible for us to be as slothful as we are.
4. Seek to Have Christ’s Love Constrain You
A Christian should live under the impression of the sweet constraining love of God. The soul should be under the sweet impression of Christ’s love. Paul asserts the principle of his obedience to be the love of Christ constraining him (2 Corinthians 5:14).
5. Consider the Omniscience of God
A Christian should live under the impression of the omniscience of God. The Psalmist says that he kept God’s precepts and testimonies because all his ways were before God (Psalm 119:168). In other words he is saying, “do you want know why I am such a diligent Christian? Because I knew there was nothing I did that the Lord did not know.”
6. Seek to Get Your Heart Engaged Towards Duty
Strive to have your heart inclined and engaged to do duty. The Psalmist could say he had inclined his heart to keep God’s precepts always to the very end (Psalm 119:112). This is indeed a most remarkable thing, never to be out of obedience to His commandments. Not just for a while but always, even to the end. He goes on to say that his soul has kept God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:167). What leads him to this? “I love them,” he says of God’s testimonies. Thus, to have your heart engaged towards the duties of religion would make you a diligent Christian.
7. Resolve Not to Be Slothful
I would charge every one: young and old, professing and not professing Christians, you who know God, and you who are ignorant of Him. I desire you today, in His name, to take this oath of love on your heart, that you may take away this resolution with you, “I shall never be such a slothful Christian anymore.” “I have sworn, and I will perform it” (Psalm 119:106). I urge you to do this in the sight of God the Father, the first person of the blessed Trinity, and in the fight sight of the Son, the second person of the blessed Trinity, and in the sight of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the blessed Trinity. Make this the oath that you will swear and labour to perform: that you will not be slothful any more.
8. Consider the Majesty of God
If you desire to rise above slothfulness then strive to keep yourself under high and majestic considerations of God. I am sure that the low conceptions we have of the majesty of God are the reason why many of us bow our knee so seldom to Him. The psalmist had an unusual expression, “I give myself unto prayer” (Psalm 109:4). It may be translated, “I prayer.” He would say, “I am so much taken up in that work, that they may call my name ‘Prayer'”.
Consider those have died in the Lord and rest from their labours. Their reward is with them and their works follow them. Consider what all those glorious thousands who are round about the throne are doing. They have now entered into the glorious and eternal possession and enjoyment of God, wisdom’s ways were pleasant to them while they were here. The day is coming when the Christian who is most diligent in the duties of religion will not repent of it. No one went down to their grave without this conviction, “Woe to me that I spent so little of my time in the duties of religion.” It is astonishing that while God is spending so much effort on us, we move our hearts so little in the duties of religion.