Why is it that so many people take no pains in religion? How is it that they can never find time for praying, Bible reading, and hearing the gospel? What is the secret of their continual string of excuses for neglecting means of grace? How is it that the very same men who are full of zeal about money, business, pleasure, or politics, will take no trouble about their souls?—The answer to these questions is short and simple. These men are not in earnest about salvation. They have no sense of spiritual disease. They have no consciousness of requiring a Spiritual Physician. They do not feel that their souls are in danger of dying eternally. They see no use in taking trouble about religion. In darkness like this thousands live and die. Happy indeed are they who have found out their peril, and count all things loss if they may only win Christ, and be found in him! (Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, vol. 1 [1858; Banner of Truth, 2012], 110)
Let us thoroughly understand that pains and diligence are just as essential to the well-being and prosperity of our souls as of our bodies. In all our endeavours to draw near to God, in all our approaches to Christ, there ought to be the same determined earnestness which was shewn by this sick man's friends. We must allow no difficulties to check us, and no obstacle to keep us back from anything which is really for our spiritual good. Specially must we bear this in mind in the matter of regularly reading the Bible, hearing the gospel, keeping the sabbath holy, and private prayer. On all these points we must beware of laziness and an excuse-making spirit. Necessity must be the mother of invention. If we cannot find means of keeping up these habits in one way, we must in another. But we must settle it in our minds, that the thing shall be done. The health of our souls is at stake. Let the crowd of difficulties be what it may, we must get through it. If the children of this world take such pains about a corruptible crown, we ought to take far more pains about one that is incorruptible.