Sunday June 2nd: No service in Lausanne. Join us at the church retreat in Leysin!

Sloth and the Middle Period

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Martin Lloyd Jones, the great British preacher, said that ‘the middle period’ is the time when we may be most prone to Sloth. 

The question then - if we want to be on guard against Sloth - is ‘what’s the middle period?’

Whenever we start something new - a new job or relationship or educational program, or church, we experience a honeymoon period. We’re excited by this new phase or new person or new experience in our life. 

But with time, the honeymoon ends and the thrill of the new fades and you find you’ve entered ‘the middle period’. And it’s during the middle period that we need to put in effort. Romantic feelings become unreliable, and so now we have to work at the relationship; study is required to complete the course, so we have to make the time to do so; the job that is no longer crackling with excitement now requires discipline and diligence and duty - and to put those in you have to make yourself get up and physically go to work.

And the same can happen with our spiritual lives. When you first become a Christian, you’re excited by it and you may grow quickly. But then comes ‘the middle period’. The glow fades and its then that temptation to Sloth is greatest.

It’s why Paul writes in Galatians 6:9, ‘Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.’ 

The problem is Sloth does give up. It get’s a foothold between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ of our identity in Christ. We can see what we’re like now, and what we should become - but to get there requires effort, it requires putting off the old and putting on the new; it requires putting to death our sin, and putting in effort - discipline, diligence and duty - in the means of grace, like Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and regular, communal worship. 

And Sloth says, ‘there’s no point, I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work’, or ‘it’s too much effort.’ As someone has said, Sloth resists the 1000 little deaths we must go through if we want to grow. Our old sinful self resists being transformed into the new self by God’s Spirit and grace. We harden our hearts to any change that demands sacrifice or surrender. 

And we can do that while appearing apathetic, or extremely active.

So, if you find yourself in the middle period - and you will, be on guard against the life-limiting temptation to Sloth.