Sanctification is a grind. It is a long, wearying struggle against sin. A similar fatigue to that which hits us physically also hits us spiritually. One of the difficulties in overcoming spiritual lethargy is that the toil, thorns, thistles, and sweat impeding our sanctification are often not as easily recognized as the physical ones. The following are 11 inhibitions that instigate spiritual lethargy.
There he is, the man known as Sluggard. He chooses rest over plowing and planting (Prov 20:4), a nap when his shift is about to begin. He fakes fear of lions to excuse himself from responsibility (22:13; 26:13). His laziness dominates him so much that he fails even to take care of himself. His house lays in disarray, the yard in chaos. In the task of nourishing his own body, he collapses lifting the food back to his mouth (19:24). What a pitiful man!
The sluggard lacks motivation. He needs incentive and drive to put in God-honoring effort. Otherwise, he will be left without sustenance (21:25). For the saying is trustworthy, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thess 3:10). He would be wiser if he would simply look down at the ant every now and again (Prov 6:6), to see how he marches in rank, gathering food in the summer for the coming season of need. How they—the tiny among God’s creatures—employ great concentration to carry up to fifty times their own body weight.
It is true, God provides the seasons, the rain, the sunshine, and even the growth of crops. Still, man does not reap provisions for life apart from putting in time and sweat. We must cultivate, sow, and tend.
All of us can attest the difficulty of manual labor in this fallen world. At the fall, God cursed the efforts of man with toil, thorns, thistles, and sweat (Gen 3:17–19). Life outside of Eden is hard. And we are now inclined to laziness. But do we recognize the similar effects on our spiritual vitality? The strain of the fall wears on our spiritual discipline just as it does our physical work.