I kinda like slugs.
I don’t want them on me, of course. But they can be kind of funny looking. Like in the movie “Flushed Away”.
When my girl Keli was little little, she went over to our pastor’s house to play with his daughter. We picked her up afterwords, and as we were driving home, she made this announcement: “Pastor Olcott has DRUGS all over his house!” After a few moments of questioning her, we figured out she meant SLUGS–she and her friend Annaliese had been searching for slugs outside in their yard.
While watching slugs is one thing, being a slug is a completely different thing.
Sure, there are times when we need to be slugs. When our bodies and mind need rest. When there is so much going on and our minds are in overdrive, that we find ourselves taking a slug night—-curled up in Jammies, with a mindless book or mindless movie. But that’s not the kind of slug I’m writing about tonight either.
No, the kind of slug I’m addressing is something I’m having to fight in my own life right now, and maybe you have seasons of fighting it, too.
The verse that applies to this condition of sluggishness is found in the book of Hebrews, in chapter 6:11-12:
11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The point of these verses is to encourage believers to persevere until the end. The end of what? The end of life here on this earth, whether we die and go home to heaven, or Jesus returns during our lifetime.
I love the word “earnestness” or “earnest”. It means to show full seriousness in intention and purpose. It is deliberate. It is thought out. It is real.
The entire book of Hebrews is an encouragement for believers to persevere until the end, but what does that look like? First and foremost it demands hope. Doesn’t suggest it, no–it demands it. We have to have hope in order to persevere to the end, and we have to have the “earnestness to have the full assurance of this hope.” It is not nothing. It is not to be taken lightly.
I don’t know about you, but I find that hope tends to be an elusive thing in my life. I have to intentionally fight for it–fight for what I know is truth to battle the hopelessness that attacks me in the mornings when I’m facing another day. To battle the hopelessness that attacks me and tells me “You have no future”. To battle the hopelessness that swirls around me in the middle of the night when I am awakened from a nightmare. To battle the sin of unbelief, because that’s where hopelessness arises from.
How do we fight hopelessness? Through spiritual disciplines. Through service. Through fighting sluggishness, which we will take a look at next.
Verse 12 hits the nail on the head: “so that you may not be sluggish,”. Good grief. I know full well this kind of sluggishness.
What does a coach do when he recognizes that his athlete is becoming sluggish? He typically pushes him or her. To go farther, to go harder, to go faster. They would never reach their goal if they were allowed to remain sluggish. No; and we cannot persevere to the end in hope if we continue in sluggishness.
Instead of being sluggish, we are to be imitators–imitators of “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. Like Abraham (see verses 6:13-15) Abraham was patient. He was not sluggish. He was hopeful. He persevered, never giving up His belief or faith in God.
What about you? What about me? I’m preaching this mostly to myself. I’m in a very sluggish place right now. A restless place. A place where hope is once again elusive. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to give up. God has brought my crew and I so far, that to give up now would be cowardly. Would be a waste. Would be sinful.
But that doesn’t mean that the desire to give up isn’t there.
We must fight this sluggishness, through spiritual disciplines. Yes, the common ones we think of: prayer, reading Scripture, attending worship. But also ones we might not recognize as spiritual disciplines. Singing. Worship. Exercise. Getting enough rest. Fellowship with others. Corporate worship, which I foolishly neglected today in a fog of hopelessness.
I’ll close by saying this: Tuesday night I start teaching a Bible Study on the book of James. This is a giant step forward for me. Because I can’t hide if I’m teaching. I can’t lock myself away from the world if I am teaching. I have a responsibility to bring the truth of scripture to a group of ladies, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I am excited. But I am also anxious. Anxious because this will be the most interaction I’ve had with people since my ex-husband was arrested.
I think I am ready. I know I am ready. But I also know that only by God’s grace will I be able to stand fast and share from Scripture what He would have us to learn together.
I found this list by Jon Bloom, on how to fight this sluggishness. I’ve typed it up, printed it out, and tacked it to my board above my desk:
- Identify the doubt. Sluggishness has a cause. What is sapping your faith?
- Repent. Unbelief is a sin. Seek to actively turn from it.
- Target that unbelief with biblical truth. Stop whatever else you may be doing for devotional reading and focus on and pray through texts that deal directly with this issue. Lay aside your other book reading and read things that address this doubt.
- Don’t go it alone. Humble yourself and share your struggle with trusted counselors God has given you. Our great Coach often speaks through assistant coaches (Hebrews 3:13).
Maybe you are in a sluggish place, too. Maybe you need to pray the verse in Hebrews 12: 12-13 that I’m praying as I go forward to slay this sluggishness and do what God has called me to do: