Sloth – Who, Me?
No really. Sloth is likely the last thing you might understand about yourself. But yet Sloth is epidemic among Believers. Sloth is a habitual disinclination to exertion, or in other words: laziness. Sloth is putting off doing things until later. It means not being thorough in the things you do. Sloth is giving into yourself. Our approach in this study will be to first discuss truths about this sin, by way of Bible definition. Next we will address how we can self-assess for evidences of Sloth by sharing the Fruit of Sloth. And lastly, never to leave us hanging in the grip of sin, we will explore and promote our understanding of the Godly Virtue which stands opposed to Sloth: Diligence.
Truth: Sloth Presumes upon the Future
I’ll pay that bill tomorrow (cc debit) – I’ll offer ask forgiveness tomorrow. If you follow Restart Church at all, you know I harp on personal times of prayer and bible study. For many of us that might sound good; but maybe something we can get at later… not today. I’ll get serious about addressing my addiction tomorrow. I will live more Christ like when conditions improve. I know I have a favorite sin, but I know I can lick it sooner or later. Really?
- Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away – James 4:14
- Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth – Proverbs 27:1
The Slothful person Presumes upon the future. Ben Franklin said “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” What else is true about the lazy person?
Truth: Sloth Forfeits Godly Opportunity
If we are lazy and slow to act on simple things, why would we expect the Lord Most High to entrust important, life-changing opportunities to us?
- He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? – Luke 16:10-11
The lazy person Forfeits Godly opportunity to live life more fully, to serve and honor the Name of Christ and uplift to the Name of The Most High through effective service to others. What other truth can we unearth about Sloth?
Truth: Desires of the Slothful Go Unfulfilled
Unfulfilled desire is the hallmark of the slothful. Want, aspiration, fancy, inclination, impulse; yearning, longing, craving, hankering, and hunger run deep in the lazy person – none of which get satisfied.
- A lazy hunter does not catch his prey – Proverbs 12:27 (GW)
The goals and needs are never captured, are not obtained. The lazy dream big, but never attain. Their Desires go unfulfilled – but not only their desires, but the desires and confidence of those who depend upon them. How many bitter relationships do we have out there – how many arguments because of sloth and lack of commitment?
- Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him – Proverbs 10:26
Time for Self-Assessment
Now comes the time for you and I to take an objective look at ourselves; to step back and consider if evidences of Sloth can be detected in us. At Restart we feel it’s critical that we take a good look at ourselves. Paul instructed the Corinthians to
- Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves – 2 Corinthians 13:5
We are to step back long enough to self-assess and to what purpose? That we might turn our feet back toward God.
- I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies – Psalm 119:59
In this next section we will consider our ways by looking at the Fruit of Sloth. We are going to be brave enough to confront ourselves and turn our feet to His testimonies, to His ways, to His commands. And let’s not forget one additional point. Though it is important that you and I walk with clean hands – for our own sake – eradicating Sloth is not only for ourselves, it is for others as well…
- He will deliver one who is not innocent, and he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands – Job 22:30
Let’s examine some of the Fruit of Sloth.
The Fruit of Sloth – Endless Craving
The outcome for the lazy is slow death through endless yearning. The Word teaches the slothful refuse to work – they know they should be about, but they want no part of it.
- The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing – Proverbs 13:4
- The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work. all day long he is craving – Proverbs 21:25
The Fruit of Sloth – Obsession with Sleep and Recreation
The lazy person doesn’t think they are asking for much when they decide to rest and relax. They feel they deserve a break, that they carry the weight of the world and are entitled to rest.
- A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man – Proverbs 24:33-34
- As the door turneth upon its hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed – Proverbs 26:14
The sloth is so selfish, they ignore their obligations. Notice too the word “want” in the verse above. For the lazy person life is an endless cycle of wanting but not doing what it takes to have. We want freedom from our addictions and besetting sins – but we are not willing to do what it takes to address them.
The Fruit of Sloth – Endless Excuses
The king of excuses, the lazy person is a great liar and cannot discern how weak and transparent their excuses are:
- The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!” – Proverbs 26:13
Lazy people serves themselves – and exchanges what they know they should do for something that accommodates their sloth. They serve the creature and not the Creator
- For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen – Romans 1:25
The Fruit of Sloth – Disregarding Consequence
In order to sustain living a life of sloth and laziness people must ignore the impacts and implications of their inactivity – the consequences of their inattentions. In the first verse below, the King James translates “by reason of the cold” – the sluggard does not attend to urgent needs. It’s too cold out; I don’t want to shovel out; I don’t want to check that leak in the roof…
- The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing – Proverbs 20:4
- Through slothfulness the roof deteriorates, and a house leaks because of idleness – Ecclesiastes 10:18
Taken in a spiritual sense, the roof and house in the verse above are a picture of Godly covering which deteriorates without routine Bible Study. The protection of the house is not provided; prayer is not offered to keep the enemy at bay and the covering and protection of the house intact. And why? Because we are too lazy to pray, to read, to gather together, to serve and to share the Good News with others. We know we should, but we are all too willing to disregard the consequences of not doing it. The final Fruit of Sloth we will consider is:
The Fruit of Sloth – Mega-Ego, No Boundaries
The lazy person is a know-it-all; they’ve got answers for everything. They also lack discretion – they will move from person to person until they find someone who with low moral standards to gossip about others to
- The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly – Proverbs 26:16
- They also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house. and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention – 2 Peter 2:3
So there are five evidences to assess ourselves against; five things to look at ourselves about in order to understand if there is a hint of sloth in our living; evidence of a bad fruit trying to get a toe hold.
What to do?
What are we to do if we see some of these things at work in us? What we must do – and that without delay – is to study, memorize Scripture and pray an opposing Godly virtue into action against the sin of Sloth. And I would submit to you that the opposing virtue against sloth is Diligence.
- A lazy man does not roast his prey, But the precious possession of a man is diligence – Proverbs 12:27
- The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat – Proverbs 10:4
- Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life – Proverbs 4:23
- Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord – Romans 12:11
- Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men – Colossians 3:23
Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves
One of the greatest passages about the power of Diligence can be found in 2 Peter.
- Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence in your faith, supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness and in your godliness, brotherly kindness and in your brotherly kindness, love – 2 Peter 1:5-7
Please note for any of the character traits noted above, it all begins with diligence. Follow with me, referring to the text. Is speaks of faith. Where does faith come from – to what are we to apply our diligence?
- So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ – Romans 10:17
Everything depends upon your personal study of the Word – to be diligent about it – to long for it, to study, memorize and meditate on it. What follows is moral excellence. The diligent study of the Word of God (and 4 other activities we will touch on in a moment) will eliminate the grey areas – where sloth lives. And what is the result of our moral excellence?
We think we have knowledge, that we are clever and informed – but if we carry immoral habits with us – our knowledge is false. Diligence in growing your faith will lead to moral excellence and a clear and unimpeded path to knowing more about the Christ. And so what happens once moral excellence establishes knowledge? Self-Control. See the power here? Is your life a series of knee-jerk reactions? Of quick sprints into sin; loss of control. We must apply Diligence in reading, praying and serving – all under the guidance of self-control. And what comes of self-control? Perseverance. Whoa there isn’t diligence and perseverance the same? Well, no it isn’t:
- Diligence is a conscientious determination to do something
- Perseverance is continuing in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or failure
Notice takes self control to persevere – you have to apply your will power – you have to be intentional – and all that in the face of resistance and previous defeats. Life will often turn against us – things get sticky and difficult – life must at times be endured. But God knows that it is difficult to persevere – but He so values perseverance – that He offers a reward for it:
- Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him – James 1:12
Diligence in working daily at self-control will empower your perseverance! And in your determination to continue on the Jesus Path without regard to discouragement, opposition or failure – the reward of diligence is godliness. Whoa! Can a person actually live in “godliness?” Well according to the Word – yes.
- His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence – 2 Peter 1:3
Godliness comes from perseverance – acknowledging that life is tough; that you will face difficulties, but that you will be purified unto godliness through them.
- When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold – Job 23:10
Something to Note:
The first six of these outworkings of diligence have to do with internal efforts, internal changes:
- Moral excellence
You and I need to start on ourselves before we are familiar enough with the Jesus Path to impact the lives of others.
- First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye – Luke 6:42
And so, to finish off Peter’s instruction on the progress and power of diligence, the last two have to do with how you and I interact with others. Once we stop being lazy with our lives; lazy with our giftedness; lazy in following the way out from our addictions… Once we take our faith seriously and become diligent to overcome our sloth and live for Christ Others will become more and more important to us. The last two outworkings of diligence are:
- Brotherly Kindness
Brotherly kindness – anyone familiar with brothers knows this does not always mean peaceful co-existence. There are stressors between people for sure. But the word is “kindness.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of us would at least be KIND to others? And once we have learned diligence in our kindness to others what happens? Love. That’s what happens, love.
Diligence in 5 Areas
One important instruction from the story of David and Goliath is that David went to the brook and drew out five stones. When he put his hand into his bag to draw one out, he did not know which of the five he picked to defeat the Giant. And so it is will you and I. At Restart we picture the five stones as such:
- Personal Bible Study
- Dedicated times of Prayer
- Gathering together to encourage each other
- Serving others with our giftedness
- Sharing with others the hope that lies within
We must be diligent in each so when, like David, we reach for one, it will be ready to be cast at the Giant we face. Sloth succumbs to Diligence, every time. And when we become diligent to feed our Spirit with the five activities above – the torrent and cascade of the outworkings of our passage in 2 Peter will become a reality. And most certainly – without question – all evidence of Sloth will be engaged and defeated.
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