How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
OUR ENGLISH WORD STUPID IS A WORD WORTH DOING SOME SERIOUS THINKING ABOUT. It comes from the Latin stupere, which meant “to be stunned.” Usually we think of “stupidity” as extreme foolishness or a lack of intelligence, but in its most literal sense, “stupid” means dazed or stunned. The stupid person is in a “stupor,” and what he needs is not to increase his intelligence but to wake up and pay attention. Stupidity is simply the state of being inactive and insensible when we ought to be alert.
Spiritually speaking, we need to shake off our stupidity, don’t we? Too much of the time, we are lethargic and apathetic. Although there is work to do and dangers to watch out for, we doze off into such a state of insensibility that not even God can get our attention. Like Peter, James, and John, who fell asleep while Jesus was enduring His agony in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46), we are drowsy. Our desire, it would seem, is for God to leave us alone and let us sleep just a little while longer.
Usually, it takes some huge, life-altering crisis to bring us to our senses. But the closer we get to the end of our lives in this world, most of us will wish that we had waked up sooner. We don’t really have to wait for tragedy to turn us upside down. If we make the choice, we can wake up on our own — and we can do so right now. We can shake ourselves into sobriety and determine that our minds will be wide awake from now on.
One good reason to wake up is so that we can be better stewards of the gifts God has given us. Our Father has endowed us with great capabilities, and these are to be used to further His purposes. We need to be more keenly aware of our abilities and our opportunities so that we can use them more fully. When we allow the devil to discourage us, we fall into a stupid, insensible daze — a sleepiness from which nothing comes that is truly worthwhile. There is so much more to the life of godliness than we’ve experienced and so much more to God Himself than we’ve ever known. Too long have we been stupid! Too long have we slept!
“Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake” (William James).