Laziness and Excuses: Lent Series, Short Contemplation on Spiritual Infirmity
Changes can bring different responses. For example, if we change to a new car, we enjoy the experience of the test drive, the smell of the new car, and the up-to-date technology, but once that first bill comes, we don’t like the change so much after all. We also get comfortable with our lives, we accept the status quo, and after a while, we are too comfortable to even question it or to think of changing it. In the gospel of the sixth week of the reading ofparalytic man in John 5 is read. This man, although we don’t know his name, his exact age, or any of his circumstances, waited patiently for the water at the pool to be moved for thirty-eight years, but once the Lord stopped by him, he got up, picked up his bed, and walked. He accepted the challenge and the change, left his infirmity behind him, went to the temple, and preached Jesus, the man who had healed him.
Most of us, myself included, struggle with spiritual infirmity, that is, laziness. We have laid on our beds, couches, and recliners for a very long time, and we have begun to accept it as part of who we are. Deep inside, however, we know it’s wrong and that we must change. Some give in to laziness occasionally, while others are totally taken by it. Spiritual laziness probably is the most dangerous vice we can struggle with because the feeling of taking the first step is difficult and uncomfortable, and we do not want to do it. We cry out, “I want to change, but I don’t know how,” “I want something to shake me from the inside out,” “I want something spiritually different,” and yet we remain where we are.
With laziness comes excuses: “I’m too tired to do anything,” “I can’t find the energy to do it,” “I really want to, but I’m busy,” “I have so much school work,” etc. What’s ironic is that laziness is reserved only for the spiritual activities, but if it’s a movie night, there’s a basketball game, or guests come to visit, we quickly find the energy to do whatever that may be. In the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14–-30), the Master called the last servant “lazy.” We notice that this servant is the only one among the three who gave an excuse for why he didn’t labor: “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man,… And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.” Excuses avoid admitting fault and usually come with blame for others.
To overcome laziness, we usually feel the need to seek an outside factor. We forget that everything we need we already have received and that it’s available for us: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). Christ passes by us and asks us, “Do you want to be made well?” We must answer this question clearly since to be made well (whole) is to be united with Christ and grafted into His vineyard. When we abide in Christ, our weaknesses are covered, He is then glorified, and we are made whole: “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). The question itself assumes that we can’t heal ourselves but that it is Christ who makes us whole; however, we can help ourselves to some extent—we can rise, take up, and walk. Christ is commanding us, “Rise, take up, and walk.” He tells us not to remain laying down and to not give Him excuses. And as we fall into our laziness, Christ passes by us and says, “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” and He warns us, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:40–41).
How can we get over our laziness and excuses? First, we must remind ourselves of the blessings to come for those who rise at the call of Christ, those who desire to be made whole. Second, we should remind ourselves with the thought of death. Third, we need to lessen the things that we burden ourselves with. Fourth, we need to remember our past sins, for if we remain lazy, we will undoubtedly return to them.