Lethargic, Lukewarm and Lazy
A person has to grow always in spiritual life. However, there are always hindrances from within and obstructions from out. Sometimes the hindrances from within is more dangerous than the obstructions. The three hindrances that hamper spiritual life are being Lethargic, lukewarm and lazy. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
Lethargy means to be inactive, listless and indifferent. That also means lack of interest in doing things. In Christian life a person could become inactive. A body is healthy only when it is active. The water in the well or bore well unused for long time would become stinky. It is possible, for a Christian to neglect the spiritual disciplines like: Studying the Scripture, worship, prayer, fellowship…etc. Such spiritual inactive life could lead to spiritual malnutrition and even death.
Lethargy also signifies that a person is listless: purposeless, lack of focus and meaningless. There are many Christians who have lost the purpose of their lives. Like people of the world, they are sucked into consumerism, materialism, living for now, entertainment and self-centered. They are also participating in the rat race of the world. Unfortunately, without realizing, that even if they win the rat race, they would still be a rat.
There are few Christians who are indifferent. They are without concern for spiritual things. Paul describes three kinds of people: Natural, Spiritual and Carnal. (I Corinthians 2:14-16 and I Corinthians 3:1-4) The philosophy of the natural person is that he could save himself. There is no need for saviour. The spiritual man is one who repents and accepts Lord Jesus Christ as personal saviour. The carnal person, professes spirituality but lives worldly life and gives priority to self. These carnal Christians lack appetite that they could be only fed milk and not solid food. (I Corinthians 3;2)
Lethargy is lack of fervency. There is no fervent spirit in prayer, thirst for righteousness, concern for the lost, desire for the glory of God and zeal for the Kingdom of God.
The Lord spoke to the Church in “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15,16) Being hot means to be passionate and living according to convictions. Being hot spiritual person means to take right stand on biblical doctrines. It also means not to compromise the essentials of faith. Being cold is to be denying the essentials of faith. Lukewarm means to be indifferent and do not have strong convictions regarding their own faith.
Lukewarm people think they are spiritual but they are not. They consider themselves as saved, but not in reality. They are like salt that has lost the saltiness and cannot be restored. (Matthew 5:13) Sometimes, they could be beyond redemption. Lord Jesus Christ said: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) They were not loyal to Lord Jesus, were attracted towards worldliness and syncretism.
Ant becomes a model for a lazy person. (Proverbs 6:6) In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23) Ant in summer thinks about winter and in winter thinks about summer. Ant is active in summer to store for winter. In winter, it gets ready to toil and gather.
Laziness means to pursue worthless causes. “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.” (Proverbs 28:19) There are some people who pursue causes that is not beneficial for people. A Christian should have Kingdom of God and righteousness as the priority. Wrong priorities would lead to spiritual poverty.
Laziness is not performing the duty or job at the right time. Laziness is a habit of not being alert and mission opportunities. “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4) A lazy person does not sow or invest or do things with long-term perspective. “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” (Proverbs 10:5) When harvest is not done in appropriate time, then the crop would rotten and decay. Spiritual laziness would lead to missed opportunities, delayed attempts and decayed end product.
“As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.” (Proverbs 26:14) A lazy person loves sleep and enjoys being on his bed. “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.” (Proverbs 26:15) “A lazy person does not want to use his faculty for even genuine duties. The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (Proverbs 26:13) A lazy person gives lame excuses, imaginary excuses, crazy and funny excuses.
To follow Lord Jesus Christ as disciple, implies high discipline. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Spiritual life involves the whole being: body, soul and spirit. Lethargy, lukewarm and laziness could engulf and enslave either the body or soul or spirit. Lethargy, lukewarm and laziness are contagious, that it spreads fast that body, soul and spirit is affected. Let us be on guard so that we are fervent in the spirit and rejoice in the Lord always.