Too much time off work is tough on me. Long weekends can drive me nuts if there is nothing particular to be done. Vacations are better for me if there are things to do and see, rather than just lying around “relaxing.” I can get very grumpy with too much free time on my hands and nothing much to do. I think I often feel ashamed that I may be wasting time.
I don’t think this is because I am a workaholic since I don’t really fancy myself as such. In fact, I can get horribly lazy if I don’t have the drive or energy to get on with what needs to be done. When you couple this with a conflicting sense that life is short and the clock is ticking, you get a very agitated man who quickly loses focus on doing the important things in life.
It is axiomatic that when I am idle I get nothing worthwhile accomplished. I also develop a lot of anxiety over the lost time and missed opportunities to bear fruit in my life, especially in those things I should be doing for the Lord.
I believe the key to getting anything done is proper motivation. No great epiphany there – lots of people make a living as motivational speakers because of our inherent lack of this resource in our daily pursuits. While many of their ideas can be helpful, much of what is emphasized by those speakers is “self-motivation,” looking inside ourselves to tap hidden reserves we don’t know we have to propel us to success in our chosen endeavors. Unfortunately, I find my “self” to be the problem, so I find little reason to look there for help in overcoming laziness and lack of production.
For the Christian, there must be a different well from which to draw our refreshment and energy in order to produce abundant fruit fitting a life emblazoned with the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior. We see in 2 Pet. 1:2-4 that the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord is such a well. We also find in verses 5-7 the wonderful blessings to be had from the growth of our faith. A life formed by practical godliness which manifests divine love will surely result in the abundant life the Lord desires for each of His followers (Jn. 10:10), as well as pleasing spiritual fruit offered up to God.
The apostle Peter goes on to tell us in verse 8:
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We will first notice that all of the things spoken of in verses 5-7 are to be in us. These are not things we can put on and take off as it suits us like a robe, but they are to be part of our very nature as Christians and always present. In fact, they are to abound. If this is the case, we will be so constantly exercised that we will be incapable of being idle or unfruitful in regard to our knowledge of Him.
We should never be found idle concerning the things of the Lord. Idleness has the opposite connotation as diligence, which we know we are exhorted towards in many scriptures. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV). He exhorted the young man to strive diligently – to show steady and energetic effort – to learn the word of God and demonstrate the results of that effort in everything he did. How true for us as well.
But let us not confuse activity in Christ’s name as a cure for the idleness written of by Peter. We may be busy in any number of things which may, in due time, bear fruit unto the Lord. Praise God for that. But if we are to produce consistent fruit for God and live a life pleasing to Him, we must be diligent in expanding what we know of the Person of Christ. If we are lazy in this we should not be surprised if we do not grow spiritually.
Nor should we ever be exposed as unfruitful. Like a tree that has no choice but to bring forth the fruit of its limbs, we should likewise bring forth spiritual fruit as a natural result of who we are in Christ Jesus. As our knowledge of Him increases so too will our fruit. If these things are so, our refreshing spiritual well will never be empty and our reserves never used up in diligent service for the Lord.
We are informed by Peter of the negative side of this as well. “ For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (verse 9). The one spoken of here is a believer who is idle and unfruitful. That should catch our attention, because the results are really sad.
This is one who is not growing his new life in Jesus and is effectively starving it through inattention or pursuit of things other than a knowledge of God and Christ. One who is blind is in danger of falling into any number of dangers; the spiritually blind lacks the sight to follow God’s ways. The short-sighted believer has lost his or her eternal perspective and focuses on the here-and-now, looking to the things of the world rather than the things above, often pursuing self-pleasure. And what misery there is in forgetting that one has been purged of former sins. How lightly must a believer regard Christ to have forgotten what He has done for them on the Cross?
The pursuit of the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is of such value that it should never be laid aside!
Let’s be mindful that if we want to be useful to God and bless our fellow man, we must first pursue after the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, a life of godliness, and the practical and spiritual fruit it produces. If we give attention to learning more about Him, we will pursue the work the Lord has for us with greater diligence, energy, confidence, and results.
We cannot be unhappy or anxious when our eyes are focused on Him and we won’t ever feel ashamed when we are diligent for Christ’s sake.