Summary: Focuses on the sin of Sloth

The Seven Deadly Sins Part 6: Sloth

Scripture: Proverbs 6:6-9; 10:26; 13:4; 20:4; 26:14-16; Ecclesiastes 10:18

Matthew 25:26,30


This is part six of the “Seven Deadly Sins”. This morning we will cover several scriptures that will hopefully give you a good idea of how God views laziness, especially from a spiritual standpoint. Zeal is the energetic response of the heart to God’s command. However, sin works to deaden the spiritual senses so we first become slow to respond to God and then drift completely into the sleep of complacency. Many Christians have fallen into complacency or “spiritual laziness” because of offenses, being tired of fighting or just “not having the time” to focus on God because of being too busy living. The end result, regardless of the reason, is the same – we get nothing done for God.

Most people think of sloth as laziness, not doing much of anything, but just sitting around doing nothing. Some stay busy most of the time but don’t do the things they should, putting them off for later. They may actually be staying busy doing something they like so they can have an excuse. Webster defines sloth as “laziness; idleness…” Sloth is a kind of spiritual laziness (as opposed to mere physical fatigue or depression). It means not making it a priority to do what we should, or change what we should in ourselves. Some people might call it apathy, which means a lack of feeling.

An example might be a parent that always send their child to be early so they can have lots of quiet time to play solitaire or watch TV. Perhaps they could let the child stay up a little later and play a game with them or read. Or perhaps they always tell their child “No!” without taking the trouble to explain why. Another example could be someone active in a political movement. Perhaps they don’t bother to read other opinions and so they never question whether their group is right or wrong. As a result, they could support some very wrong beliefs because they never tried to find the truth. In business, some people never check into the laws to see if their practices are illegal. For Christians, we sometimes don’t really want to know what the Bible (or our Church) teaches about something, so we put off reading or asking about it. Sometimes even our children instead of completely reading an assignment before taking a test will only review the summary of the material instead.

Sloth is also quite possibly the main reason why people don’t read good spiritual books, especially their bibles. They will read Christian fiction and every other type of fiction/non-fiction books, but it is very hard for them to consistently read something to feed their spirits. As we evaluate some of the Scriptures to gain God’s view of the sluggard, remember that oftentimes vices are disguised as virtues. So sloth is often disguised as calmness, serenity, keeping a level head, open mindedness, etc. If sloth is the reality, people will get very defensive. Or maybe not, for if the problem is sloth, it is too much effort to defend it. Lets take a look at what Solomon says about the sluggard.

Proverbs 6:6-9 “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise. Which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provisions in the harvest. How long will you lie down O sluggard?

In the Old Testament, a sluggard is one who avoids the action that wisdom requires. In the scriptures we shall read in Proverbs, these terms present the negative side of an important wisdom opposition between slothfulness and diligence. As you go back and read Proverbs, the sluggard is a sub-category of the fool since wisdom requires diligence at the right time. Hard work, which the sluggard avoids, is wise when it fits into the divinely ordained cosmic order. The industrious ant is wise because her actions are in tune with the cosmic rhythm of the seasons: “she prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provisions in the harvest.” In contrast, the sluggard does not work at the right time and reaps the disastrous consequences of his laziness: “poverty will come upon you like a robber”. (Prov. 24:34) Turn to Proverbs 10:26.

Proverbs 10:26 “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him.”

The sluggard is compared to vinegar and smoke. “As sour wine sets the teeth on edge or as the unripe grape is harmful to the teeth”. Pure vinegar on the teeth is considered to be harmful much like smoke is to the eyes. In a country where chimneys were unknown and the fuel was wood or some substance even worse, the eyes must have often been painfully affected by the household fire. Smoke often causes the eyes to produce tears. The tears cleanse the eyes of the smoke. To these two annoyances is compared the messenger who loiters on his errand. The last clause is rendered “so is iniquity to those who practice it” – it brings only pain and vexation. In other words the messenger who is lazy about his deliveries will often bring pain and vexation to the one who hired him. Solomon is demonstrating effects of the sluggard on the one who hires him/her to do a job.

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