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What does the Bible say about boredom?

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Question: "What does the Bible say about boredom?"

Boredom is the emotional or physical state one experiences due to lack of mental stimulation, activities to do, or interest in one’s surroundings. Life is not an action movie, thus we all will suffer times of feeling listlessness and ennui. Proverbs 19:15 speaks of how “slothfulness” can lead to unpleasant circumstances. Experiencing boredom is not a sin, but attitudes and choices that lead to or arise from boredom may be harmful to a Christian’s faith.

Christians must strive to live with passion—not apathy—and overcome boredom with positive productivity. If we are bored because we are lazy, then there’s a problem. Proverbs 6:6–11 provides a harsh admonition against laziness: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”

Satan loves idle hands, for lassitude leads to lack of motivation, which prevents Christians from pursuing God’s will. First Timothy 5:13 speaks of how idleness may also lead to sinful activities. With no distinct aim or goal in a fallen world, entertaining depravity becomes an enticing alternative to boredom. Yet 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Christians can choose not to sin and live in a God-honoring manner. Boredom and indifference need not direct our future.

Colossians 3:23–24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Believers glorify God by living their lives to the fullest, exhibiting a “quiet” testimony by living as Christ would (Matthew 5:16). The apostle Paul staved off boredom with hard work in order to help the weak and supply the needs of the ministry (Acts 20:34–35). In Athens, when Paul had some “down time” while waiting for Timothy and Silas, he never got bored—he preached to whoever would listen (Acts 17:16–17).

Combating boredom can be a challenge sometimes, though with a small amount of effort a list of more productive activities is likely to emerge: clean your living space, read a book, spend time with a friend or family member, memorize some Scripture, pray. If you find yourself with nothing to do, emulate Jesus’ example by exploring ways to serve others. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Even taking a coffee or tea break with a friend can be an encouraging gift of love.

Make the most of your time on earth, for life is but a vapor (James 4:14). Redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16). Do not allow the enemy to take a foothold through boredom. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We can choose to use our time wisely for God and not allow boredom or sin to stifle our ability to follow God’s will (Romans 12:2).

Recommended Resource: Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley

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