That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
— Hebrews 6:12
I’ll never forget the day when the Lord suddenly spoke to my heart as I was praying and shocked me by what He told me. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Rick, if you’re going to do what I’ve called you to do, it’s time for you to remove slothfulness from your life!”
I was shaken when I heard those words. I had always been such a hard worker and couldn’t imagine why the Lord would tell me that I needed to remove laziness from my life. I sat quietly for a moment and thought about the Holy Spirit’s message to me. It upset me to think the Lord would think of me as lazy.
But in reality, the Lord hadn’t spoken a word to me about laziness. He had spoken to me about slothfulness. Until that day, I had always thought slothfulness and laziness were the same thing, but they are not.
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I said to the Lord, “You know how hard I’ve been working in the ministry. I know You’re aware of how many hours I spend writing books, developing materials, traveling, teaching seminars, and preaching in more than four hundred different services every year. How could You ever accuse me of being lazy, Lord?”
The Holy Spirit gently answered me, “I didn’t say a word to you about laziness. You’re a good worker, and I would not accuse you of laziness. But you are slothful, and I want you to eradicate this slothfulness from your life!”
For the first time in my life, I realized there is a difference between laziness and slothfulness. Because Hebrews 6:12 speaks of slothfulness, I turned there first to begin my study as I sought to discover what the word “slothful” really meant. It says, “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
To my utter amazement, I discovered that “slothful” doesn’t have anything to do with laziness! It comes from the Greek word nothros and describes something that is dull, monotonous, or unexciting; something that is slow and sluggish; or something that has lost its speed or momentum. This “something” is still moving, but it isn’t moving with the same velocity and aggressiveness it once had. It has lost the drive, thrust, impetus, pace, and speed it once possessed. This word therefore presents the idea of someone who was once zealous about something but whose zeal has now dissipated, replaced instead by neutrality.
The Greek word nothros could be typified by a candle that no longer burns brightly as it once did; now its flame has dwindled to a mere flicker of its original intensity. The candle still gives light, but not the way it once did. Thus, the word nothros doesn’t present the picture of laziness; rather, it speaks of someone who has lost his zeal or his intense conviction about a matter that once was of great importance to him. It denotes a person who has become disinterested and whose zeal has been replaced with a middle-of-the-road, take-it-or-leave it mentality.
Because of this word nothros, Hebrews 6:12 could be interpreted this way:
“Quit being slothful — quit acting like someone who has lost his enthusiasm and excitement and has now sunk into a state of being slow, boring, monotonous, sluggish, dull, and uninterested….”
When I grasped what the word “slothful” really meant, I began wishing the Lord had accused me of laziness! I saw that “slothfulness” has nothing to do with the amount of energy you or I put out to do a job. Instead, it speaks of an inward condition. Even though it may look like we’re going somewhere on the outside, inwardly we’re stuck in “neutral” and going nowhere.
In my case, I was doing a lot for the Lord at that time; however, right in the midst of all that activity, I was becoming hardened to the things of the Spirit. I was losing the edge I once possessed. When the Lord told me to remove slothfulness from my life, He was calling me to eradicate any hint of spiritual neutrality and to reclaim the red-hot position I’d previously held in my walk with Him.
If you are serious about serving and pleasing God, you must view the loss of your passion, momentum, and desire as totally unacceptable. If slothfulness has slowly wormed its way into your life, this spiritual problem can be corrected. You can get back on track again! By repenting and deciding to turn from slothfulness and neutrality, you can remove this hindrance from your life. So if you’ve lost your momentum in running your spiritual race, don’t stay in neutral! If you continue in that sorry state, it will only be a matter of time before you look back and realize how much ground you’ve lost.
Don’t let another day go by without repenting of your slothfulness and stirring up your inner desire to fulfill all God has called you to do. Shift back into high gear, and go after God’s best for all you’re worth!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me understand how totally unacceptable it is for me to lose my passion, momentum, and desire. I ask You to forgive me for allowing any hint of slothfulness to operate in my life. Today I repent and deliberately turn from slothfulness. Holy Spirit, I turn to You now and ask You to stir and reignite the fire in my heart. Please help me regain the zeal, the thrust, and the fire I once possessed. Help me to keep that fire burning this time, never to lose it again.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I declare by faith that I am NOT spiritually neutral for Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit burns brightly in my life, and I am more excited about serving Jesus Christ than at any other time in my life! The fire of God is burning brightly inside me, evident for all to see. I am an example of what it means to be passionate, committed, and on fire about the things of God. I am stirred up and ready to take on any assignment God gives me — and I will do it with all my heart.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you detect any spiritual neutrality in your life?
2. What are the signs that let you know you have become neutral? Write them down so you can pray about them.
3. If you have become spiritually neutral, what steps are you going to take to start reversing this condition?