Sheesh. I am kind of embarassed to write this one, and it may even turn out to be a "to be continued" post because this is a work-in-progress in my own life.
Over the last couple of years I have realized something about myself that I do not like at all. I do not like it, yet I still struggle with it from time to time. I see so clearly now what it is and why it must be changed, by God's grace. You see, I have a tendancy to become lazy. I am not talking about "resting" or taking a break. I am talking about being lazy. There is certainly a time to rest. There is certainly a time to just sit back and relax. We really need that as a matter of fact. However, this is not what I am talking about.
Lazy - 1. Resistent to work or exertion; disposed to idelness. 2. Slow-moving; sluggish; a lazy river. 3. Conducive to idleness or indolence (habitual laziness;sloth).
This is not the way I would like to be described, and perhaps most people wouldn't describe me this way. Besides I do accomplish quite a bit in a day's work, and I seem to have a lot going on to keep me busy. How can I be lazy? Well, like everything else, it is a heart issue.
Proverbs 13:4 states, "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."
I take turns with myself being the sluggard and the diligent. As much as I know that life is a series of ups and downs, I do not feel that I am living to my full potential in Christ. There are going to be times when I slip up and become a sluggard, but for right now it is all too often. Furthermore, this can negatively impact each aspect of my life: my spiritual health, my emotional well-being, my parenting, my submission to my husband, my business, my hobbies, etc. All of these catagories really come down to this:
When I am walking in laziness, I am not fully submitting to the Lord.
How do I know this is true? It's a slow creep that takes place. First I get lazy with my time in prayer and Bible study. Then I get lazy in putting to death the sinful nature in order to not let any sin reign or influence me. Then I let the sin I failed to get rid of take me down one path that leads to another and so on. For me, this might not lead to what we would call a huge sin or life changing bad decision, but it always lead to disobedience. Disobedience to the LORD is never good. It always leads to trouble because the Lord, in His graciousness, longs for me to come back to Him. He will only let me go so far before He draws me back to Himself because I have been bought with the blood of Jesus. I am His. If I am not careful and I let this go for too long in my own heart, the drawing back process will be nothing short of painful. Why not strive to avoid even getting there in the first place? But how?
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one get the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Strict training. Not running aimlessly or beating the air. Beating my body into submission. Now, this is not physically beating my body or "beating myself up" emotionally that Paul is promoting here. This is about deciding to take action. It's about deciding to submit to the Lord and walk according to His ways.
I see and hear so many complaining and grumbling about their situation or circumstances that have come about in their lives. Many of these complaints are valid and unfortunate, but what are you going to do about it? Why are so many of us complainers who, at the end of the day, have done nothing to change the situation? This is laziness, and though nothing is new under the sun (according to Ecclesiastes), do you see how much of this is going around? Many in our country and many in the church in our country specifically have grown quite comfortable with lazy. Of course I am generalizing. There are many people to whom I look up with admiration and motivation to pick myself up and get diligent instead of lazy. Nevertheless, there is much growth to be had in this area.
In the study, "Lord I Want to Know You," by Kay Arthur she states:
"We want salvation, but not warfare."
I'm talking about the warfare that comes as the battle between the flesh and the spirit rages on (see Galatians 5:16,17). We relish, and rightly so, in the salvation that comes from the LORD, but we often would rather not get involved in the spiritual warfare that continues afterwards. It's difficult sometimes. It's difficult a lot of times, but who said we wouldn't have difficulty? In fact, quite the opposite was said by Jesus:
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
So how did I get to the topic of spiritual warfare when I started out talking about my own laziness at times?
This is a battle. It was a battle that Joshua led the Israelites in down in the valley of Rephidim in Exodus 17 as Aaron and Hur helped Moses hold up the rod of the LORD up on the hill above. When Moses held up the rod, the Israelites were winning, but when he got tired and lowered it, they were losing.
I must fight the battle in the valley, and Jesus Himself, the mediator of the New Covenant, is on top of that hill with His arms raised in intercession for me 24/7 (see Hebrews 7:25). And He does not grow tired or weary (see Isaiah 40:28-31). I have victory because of Him. It is His battle because I am His child. Hallelujah!
As I strive to fight the good fight (see 2 Timothy 4:7), I realize that apart from Him, I can do nothing (see John 15:5). I need His help.
I have noticed that when I chose to seek the Lord and be diligent, more diligence follows. When I am careful to protect my prayer time and Bible study time, I find that I am more likely to exercise, take care of myself, be a better wife and mother, and take action in my business. God rewards my diligence.
So please, if you know me personally, keep me accountable and in prayer regarding this. I want to be diligent for God's glory. And I want to encourage others to do the same. Obedience and submission to the Lord is such a sweet place to reside, and it takes an intentional choice to stay there.
"All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty" (Proverbs 14:23).
Here's to being a doer and not just a talker. To God be the glory!