This year is an important milestone for Antoinette and myself. As we celebrate our birthdays we realize that we are getting older, to an age that we once thought was really old, but now as we achieve it we don’t consider old! We celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary next month and feel that it is appropriate that we mark it in some significant way.
As we age there is a temptation to slack off on our youthful commitments and to take things more easily. This is appropriate for some things but not for others. I cannot ameliorate my passion for the Gospel, or my depth of concern for the needs of my congregation. I cannot be laid back in my preaching or be slipshod in my preparation.
Hebrews 6:11,12 is instructive: “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (NIV)
The Message renders it: “And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.”
“Don’t drag your feet” is the description of the Greek word for lazy, dull, or sluggish. There are days when I drag my feet, when I get tired, when I get sluggish. That is a sign that I need more rest, so that I have the energy for what I want to do. It also is a sign that I need to focus on praying for the energy of the Spirit to sharpen my diligence: “to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in my inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16)
It is too easy to slip into mediocrity and ineffectiveness and not “extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish.” In order to stay the course we must be balanced and disciplined in what we attempt to do, so that we may do it well.