Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 6:6-11
I’ve always read the verses of Proverbs 6 as a warning against being physically lazy. Be diligent, don’t be idle, be intentional, be active, always go about the business of doing your work, and do so as unto the Lord. No problem for me because I’m a doer, I’m very active, I like to get things done.
This morning while reading this very familiar passage, I experienced an epiphany in realizing that physical laziness is not the only way we can be sluggards in our lives. The truth is that we can really find ourselves wrestling with spiritual poverty, that is, we can be spiritual sluggards.
This verse sheds light on how the ant functions without an officer or ruler. In this season of a world-wide pandemic, it’s easy to feel scattered or go astray when we find ourselves without the familiarity of the structures and routines of church that we are used to. We may feel like we are without an officer and that we are leaderless. Even though the pastors in our lives are working hard to shepherd and create virtual experiences, without that rhythm of check-in, it’s easy to start slacking on our own personal ownership of our spiritual well-being.
Many of us were previously very active in church and diligently volunteering in ministry, yet we were still guilty of being spiritually lazy. Week after week, we came to church, sat in our typical seat, and waited with anticipation to be fed. However, if we were to embody the mindset described here in Proverbs 6, we would take the initiative to feed ourselves because the Lord has given us daily bread and provided everything that we need. We are not just supposed to be spoon fed the word of God, we are supposed to do the work. That is what it means to be a self-feeder. Many of us are being exposed in our spiritual lives because we are not gathering for the weekly meal and being spoon fed. We are now faced with being self-fed and found lacking even though we have the word of God at our disposal.
Perhaps you find yourself doing well in your day-to-day tasks. Maybe working hard and being intentional is not your issue. Let me warn you to be intentionally on guard against being a spiritual sluggard. Don’t let the consumerism mentality of waiting for someone to feed you take over. Heed the warning in this passage, “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and poverty will come upon you like a robber.”
If you are spiritually lazy, you will become spiritually poor. If you are a spiritual sluggard for too long it will lead to spiritual poverty. Eventually you will find yourself in dry, desert places where God seems distant, your prayer life is lacking, and it seems like you can’t hear from God. You don’t need a thunderstorm, miracle or some move of God. You need to move, and you need to start doing the work.
Likewise, I have to be on guard; I’m speaking to myself. I don’t want to become spiritually lazy, I long for intentionality and to be active in my spiritual life. That means, even in times like this, where we want to make a lot of plans in order to create some sense of stability. We need to pray more than we plan. That means we need to saturate our souls more than we strategize our lives. We need to ask the questions, “how much time am I spending in God’s word?”
Podcasts, books, articles, and staying current are great during a time when so many things are happening in culture. Books are selling out because everyone wants to talk about current cultural issues. Podcasts are on the rise. Social media is the new conduit for information. But there is a book that is the best selling book of all time and it supersedes cultural trends, elections and whatever else is happening, because it has an unchanging message that we need for our souls.
My encouragement for you today is that you get into the word. Don’t become a spiritual sluggard. If you find yourself in a spiritually poor place, just know that nothing needs to happen outside of you. You have it in you to go and be with God and to be consistent in your prayer life, reading life, and quiet time. And keep in mind, sometimes quiet time isn’t reading a devotional; It’s literally just being quiet, turning off social media, getting in your closet, or going for a walk. We have to be diligent about feeding ourselves spiritually in this time. Now is the time that we, as the Church, need to speak into what our culture is wrestling with, but if we are spiritually poor and spiritually bankrupt we have no deposit to make when the opportune time presents itself.
Jada Edwards is an experienced Bible teacher, author, and speaker who has committed her life to equipping women of all ages with practical, biblical truth. Alongside her husband, Conway Edwards, the Senior Pastor, she serves as the Women’s Pastor and Director of Creative Services at One Community Church in Plano, Texas. Jada teaches a midweek women’s Bible study and is the author of the book Captive Mind and a contributing teacher In the Known by Name Bible study series. She and her husband have a son, Joah, and a daughter, Chloe.