“Then He said to them, ‘Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation’ ” (Luke 22:46).
IF WE’RE NOT AS WIDE-AWAKE AND EARNEST IN OUR EFFORTS TOWARD GOD AS WE SHOULD BE, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ASK OURSELVES WHY THIS IS SO. There are many possibilities, obviously, but the following four reasons explain why most of us are so complacent. On an ordinary day, here is why we don’t take God more seriously:
We don’t think we need to. At the doctrinal level, perhaps we believe that our salvation is assured no matter what we do. According to this view of the Scriptures, diligence and devotion to God are non-issues; human effort is not necessary for spiritual maturity.
We don’t think we have to. We may be bound by the tradition of “nominal” Christianity. Interested only in the bare minimum required by the law, we dare anyone to prove that getting to heaven requires more than going to church . . . once in a while.
We’re fearful and discouraged. Dragged down by past struggles, we’re doubtful that it’ll do any good to try again. We’ve broken so many commitments to God, we’re afraid to make any more. Our spiritual growth is smothered under a blanket of pessimism.
We’re lazy. Like the lukewarm Laodiceans (Revelation 3:15–18), we’re negligent. What began as occasional outward acts of procrastination has become a settled attribute of our inward character. We don’t see our negligence as a character trait, of course, but God does. He knows the dilapidated condition of our heart.
In all honesty, this last point is the crux of the matter for most of us. There comes a time when we have to ask ourselves what kind of people we are. We may have to admit that passion for God is just not a part of our character as it stands today — we’ve let ourselves get to the point where we don’t really care about great causes. And if so, we’re unfit for the human race. Malcolm Forbes put it bluntly: “People who never get carried away should be.”
God is, of course, the greatest of all great causes. And if He is to get from us the attention He deserves, we must be unflinchingly honest about where we’ve been, where we really are, and where we truly want to go. It will take time and patience, but we can, if we choose, acquire the character that it takes to take God seriously.
“No one keeps up his enthusiasm automatically. Enthusiasm must be nourished with new actions, new aspirations, new efforts, new vision” (Anonymous).