The worst kind of lazy ∙
We hope with all our hearts that each one of you will display the same zeal to make your hope come true and that you will continue doing so until the end so that you may not become lazily lethargic but may copy those who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises. – Hebrews 6:11,12
9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.
10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.
12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
The doldrums is a term used by sailors to describe areas of the sea where sailing ships cannot move because there is no wind. It changes seasonally but lies near the geographic Equator where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It is called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).
The doldrums is a common expression denoting listlessness or despondency, sadness with no energy or enthusiasm.
“I have heard that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the chance?” (Ronald Reagan). Another writer quipped, “Who says nothing is impossible? I’ve been doing nothing for years.” Lazy has such negative connotations that some have relabeled it as selective participation.
Two aspects of “laziness” are associated with depression: the lack of motivation and an inability to feel happiness when doing things you once loved.
Everyone feels unmotivated from time to time for several reasons, such as bad news, loss, failure, etc. The lack of motivation caused by depression is deeper and more persistent. It says, “Why should I bother? Nothing matters, and nothing ever changes.”
Anhedonia (a clinical term for the inability to experience happiness) is common in people suffering from depression. An analogy: suppose you are a painter, and suddenly, all the color has been taken out of your paints. You can still paint, but your canvas will be black, white, and grey without color. It will look bland and dull, uninteresting, and you will not feel the same about the finished effort. The finished painting lacks meaning. There is no joy in it.
Depression can make you extremely critical of others and self-critical. It can rob you of your sense of worth and make you hate yourself. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Laziness and spiritual depression are among the worst self-defeating, negative emotions. Many people just shut down.
Hebrews 6:12 so that you may not be sluggish
The Greek term translated as dull, sluggish, or slothful is nothros. It can easily be rendered lazy and has the sense of being slow to become involved, reticent, and slothful. “The term lazy may be expressed as ‘not wanting to do anything’ or ‘not wanting to work’” (UBS).
“We must not be lazy (‘slothful,’ the same word as ‘dull’ in Hebrews 5:11) but apply ourselves to the spiritual resources God has given us. We have the promises from God. We should exercise faith and patience and claim these promises for ourselves” (Wiersbe)!
We not only become lazy at doing but also at hearing.
Hebrews 5:11 We have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing.
REFLECT & PRAY
“I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things” (Lech Walesa).
Father, thank You that You are always there for me no matter how low I go or how discouraged I become. When I am deep in the doldrums, it is hard to look up. But I am looking up as much as I can.
There are times in our experience when we get stuck in the doldrums emotionally and spiritually. Times are arid and devoid of joy. At such times, there are two alternatives. We can give up our confidence and our service. Or we can determine to go on. Take baby steps in the right direction. Consider David after the confrontation with Nathan regarding his sin. Here’s a great one-liner, a place to begin.
Psalms 51:12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!
5 For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me– now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.
Even the downtimes are part of the Father’s plan for our lives. Some things are only learned in the doldrums. Rather than ask why this is happening, be determined to learn everything you can when dispirited and downhearted. Such times will not last indefinitely. They are like a lawnmower, and eventually, they run out of gas.
Always remember: You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think (A. A. Milne).
© Dr. H 2022