It is often said that the key to learning is repetition. Maybe that is why the following adage appears twice in Proverbs:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11; 24:33-34
In this case, what is true for the body is also true for the soul.
Today’s Morning and Evening is a sobering reminder of the dangers of spiritual laziness. We all experience times of drought. For various reasons, we walk away from the till and fold our hands to rest under a large tree. We think we have earned a time-out. But idle sleepers are useless to themselves and the body of Christ. As soon as our eyes are shut, we become like zombies; hallowed husks of self-indulgent groaners. As Spurgeon observes, “lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences” will “eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.” Personal holiness and acts of service are not provisional disciplines.
If we are to fully enjoy the richness of Christ, we must remain diligent in our pursuit of His glory. An eternal rest is coming for God’s people. Until then, let’s do everything we can to remain unremittingly resilient against the waking nightmare of laziness.
Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
* * * * *
And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows.
And Pharaoh awoke. — Genesis 41:4
Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of laziness have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous endeavor; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.
If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine that rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the worms of worldliness, and the snares of self-indulgence lay my heart completely desolate and make my soul languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever.
How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favored hours! If every day I journeyed toward the goal of my desires I would soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far from the prize of my high calling and robs me of the advances that I had so strenuously made.
The only way in which all my days can be like the fat cows is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love and usefulness and joy? I am nearer the celestial hills; I have had more experience of my Lord and should be more like Him.
O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to bemoan such leanness, but may I be well-fed and nourished in Your house, that I may praise Your name.