Heb. 5:11 [NLB] – “There is so much more we would like to say about this. But you don’t seem to listen, so it’s hard to make you understand.” [NKJV] – “of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
Heb. 6:11, 12 [NLB] – “Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and patience.”
[NKJV] – “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
[LB] – “become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent.”
If you know me, you know that words are important to me. When the Holy Spirit thrust me into “full-time ministry” thirty-two years ago, I didn’t have a lot working for me. I’m certainly not very handsome or charismatic. I had some Bible training and opportunities to serve under other ministries, but I’m not a Greek or Hebrew scholar. I wasn’t well known or popular. I had no backing from prominent ministers. What I did have was a message. The basis of that message was the integrity of the Word of God. God’s Word could be counted on. Trusting God is the same as trusting His Word. I adhered to the adage, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”
Therefore most of my study time over the years has been in “word studies”. I’ve been taught that the Bible is good, even in a surface reading. But if you want the good stuff, the stuff that will turn lives around, you have to dig deep! Great reference books, like Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Vine’s Greek/English Dictionary make it possible for even someone like me to dig down to the roots of the words of The Word and find the gold.
In studying through Hebrews 5 & 6, I discovered that the same Greek word is used in each chapter, although it is translated differently. Heb. 5:11 has the phrase “dull of hearing”. Hebrews 6:12 contains the phrase, “don’t become sluggish”. I discovered that “dull” and “sluggish” are a translation of the same Greek word NOTHROS. As you can see from the different translations, it can be defined by words like bored, indifferent, hard of hearing, lazy, etc.
The dictionary defines “sluggish” as indisposed to action or exertion; lazy; indolent; not functioning with full vigor; slow to act or respond; slow or slow-moving. None of these are qualities that should adorn Christian character. Being sluggish won’t help us accomplish our assignment: as we go through the world around us, we’re to make disciples to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews links his reader’s sluggishness first to their unwillingness to listen. They’re not receiving needed information because they’re not hearing what God is saying.
“What is God saying?” you ask. Before & above anything else, God is speaking His Word– the Bible! Everything begins there. Yes, God speaks in other ways, but anything you think you’ve heard from God can only be verified by laying it out against the Bible. In other words, if something you think you’ve heard from God doesn’t line up to the principles of the Bible, it’s not from God.
In chapter 6 the author identifies a lack of diligence as a cause of sluggishness. Think about it– you can’t be diligent and sluggish at the same time! In Romans, Paul also promoted diligence. One modern translation renders it as “enthusiasm”. The Kingdom of God can certainly use a lot more enthusiasm from us.
The author also strongly suggests that imitating the faith and patience of others can arrest the sluggishness out of our lives. Abraham received Isaac through faith and patience. Faith & patience are not sluggish. If we are truly operating by faith we’ve become persuaded that God’s Word is true and we’re about making adjustments to keep our thoughts, words and actions aligned to it everyday. Patient Christians operate in consistency.
So, don’t become sluggish! Fight against it. If you’re already there, shake it off and come out, in the Name of Jesus! Make sure you are hearing God’s Word. [Romans 10:17] Shake off lethargy and dullness. Be diligent; be enthusiastic. Get in faith and build yourself up from there. Be patient. Be steady and consistent. This kind of life pleases God and is much better for you.