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How can I overcome slothful habits?

How to Conquer Slothfulness
develop the disciplines of diligence
The reproofs for slothfulness are painful: “The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns . . .” (Proverbs 15:19). Yet, there is hope for the sluggard. God gives instructions both to him and about him.

Study the Principles of Diligence

If you tend to yield to slothfulness, determine to learn the principles of diligence and adopt them as a way of life. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). The ant illustrates basic characteristics that are lacking in the lives of those who are slothful: initiative, self-direction, respect for seasons, the ability to finish jobs, and foresight needed to plan for the future.

Learn about the ant and memorize and study passages of Scripture that address slothfulness and challenge you to become diligent. Read biographies of great Christians to learn how they developed diligence by obedience to God’s Word.

Recognize That Slothfulness Develops in Stages

Slothful behavior is a temptation for all of us. Anyone can become a sluggard. The gradual development of slothfulness usually begins unnoticed; however, if left unchecked, it disables those who surrender to its appeal.

  • Latent Slothfulness: the inward tendency to reject God’s requirement for diligent labor
  • Initial Slothfulness: making soft choices in daily decisions
  • Disabling Slothfulness: when “little” surrenders to ease become a way of life

How can you counter the development of slothfulness? Instantly obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, become accountable to others for completing tasks, and develop the discipline of fasting.

Counteract Slothfulness With Hunger

One effective deterrent of slothfulness is hunger. “. . . If any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).

A fast, coupled with studying what the Bible says about diligence, is a good place to begin your battle against slothfulness. However, before you start a prolonged fast, get your doctor’s medical advice. Long periods of fasting can have negative effects on a person’s health in some instances, and your doctor can give you assurance that a long fast will not be physically harmful.

Establish the Discipline of Rising Early

Getting up early in the morning strikes at the very heart of slothfulness. If necessary, be accountable to others for getting up on time. Resist the temptation to get just a little more sleep. When you wake up, get up!

A proper amount of sleep is essential for good health, and it is a gift from God. However, God warns us that too much sleep is destructive.

  • Beware of the bondage of sleep: “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Proverbs 26:14).
  • Beware of sleep that disables: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).
  • Beware of loving sleep: “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13).
  • Beware of sleep that robs: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:33–34).
  • Beware of untimely sleep: “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:5).
  • Beware of too much sleep: “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

Learn to Value Time

Time is one of life’s most valuable resources. This treasure is limited and fleeting, and once it is spent, it is gone forever. The end of your days is an approaching certainty. Use your time wisely. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17).

By considering how much time you actually spend on weekly activities, you will gain a fresh motivation for making the most of your minutes. For one week, keep a record of what you do every fifteen minutes. Evaluate how many of the week’s 168 hours you used for sleep, meals, work, study, rest, entertainment, and conversation. The results may shock you! Use this information to help you order your days with wisdom.

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:10–12).

This material was developed from pages 224–225 of the Men’s Manual, Volume IIOffsite Link.

For Further Study

Comments

John Carlo

Its really very nice,,,,...

Christopher Pie...

Thank you God, in Jesus name, for revealing to me these truths, and conviction through the holy spirit, and the strength to change them, and the wisdom to learn from them. I pray thy will be done and so it shall for your glory. Amen
To anyone who may read this comment: please keep me in your prayers that I repent of slothfulness, and become fruitful in the eyes of the Lord for his glory, not mine. Thank you! May God bless you.

Lance Sullivan

Glory to God he has led me to read this through unusual circumstances but I believe it was divine indeed. Truly I was slothful and falling deeper but now I know what to do to counter it. God bless and Christopher Pie I will pray for you and ask you pray for me too and I wonder if you could tell me how you are going and maybe we could keep accountable to each other. Thankyou so much and God bless all.

Annie

Thank you for using this message. It was easy for me to recognize my own slothfullness and answered my questions on how to recover from it. To whoever reads this please pray I can recover from my slothfullness and work hard for God in everything I do throughout the day. My goal is to return home tired.

DAVE

Christopher and Annie, I have and will continue to pray for you and all others, including myself, seeking such prayer. I desperately want for all of us to overcome this behavior. It does not please God. You have already inspired me through your plea. We are not alone. Together with God we can overcome.

Noah

There is something about combating slothfulness and other sin that speaks with immeasurable truth. It's fascinating to see that people in the time the Bible was written were trying to conquer themselves same as us.

I am guilty of setting new goals for myself and rolling over on them when I feel its convenient, content to spend more and more time on the activities I find pleasurable and safe. Tomorrow I will get out of bed right when I wake up and continue to search for inspiration to combat sluggishness, until I can do it on my own.

Mark

I have been in combat with slothfulness for years, In a constant routine of trying to overcome it but still I find myself sinking deeper into oblivion. I am so grateful for this aricle I have been reminded that God has a greater purpose and plan for my life. Please pray for me. God bless us all.

Katie

How does one differentiate between slothfulness and depression?

bvanderford

Thank you for your question! We would encourage you to seek the Lord and ask Him which one you are dealing with. Here are some resources that may help to answer your question:

May the Lord bless you as you seek Him!

elisa

the pandemic and subsequent quarantine have not made me more slothful, but made me AWARE of my slothfulness! with no one to see, no one to be accountable to, i have spent my days in sweat pants; its elastic waist ever-forgiving my growing belly! help! i am online searching for insight on how to overcome slothfulness. it is indeed deadly. i feel my days numbered. i feel my body temple breaking down. i feel despair for my lack of diligence. oh god help me rise up in action with spiritual joy! i pray for myself and for each of those here who have asked for prayer. amen.

Tinaishe

I definitely am guilty of managing to the most by doing the absolute little. Only God himself has literally got me through my Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree getting high grades getting the equivalent of a 3.5 GPA / 2:1 in the UK with my slothfulness. It literally bewilders me to think of what my life would be like without his amazing grace and virtue. I know there's more for me in this world but I give up before I try which sucks. I appreciate your diligence in writing this article! I'm praying for all of the people in the comments to be set free! I look forward to sharing a testimony soon!

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