Summary: This sermon looks at the Deadly Sin of Sloth. Often when we think of sloth, we think of people who are lazy and aren’t doing anything with their lives. In a word, they’re lazy. When most of us picture the idea of sloth we picture someone like Frank. So wh
Matthew 25:24-25, 44-45
Frank is 32 years old, lives in his parent’s home and works part time at a restaurant. His parents pay all of his bills and provide all of his meals. Frank doesn’t have lots of friends and he doesn’t go out very much. He spends the majority of his time laying around watching movies, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. Then there is Hank. Hank manages a large business. On a light week Hank averages 12 hours a day at work. He often travels for work on business trips but no matter where he is, Hank is working. He has a little social life, gets enough sleep to get by and then goes back to work. In addition to his job, Hank is in school working on his Masters degree. There are some things Hank would like to do if he had more time but right now all he really does is work, school, and sleep. So the question is which one is a sloth?
This week we’re looking at the Deadly Sin of Sloth. Often when we think of sloth, we think of people who are lazy and aren’t doing anything with their lives. In a word, they’re lazy. When most of us picture the idea of sloth we picture someone like Frank. So what is sloth? Typically we mean two things with sloth. First, it is the failure to do the things that are necessary. It’s the failure to act on the thing you know you should be doing. You know the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s the sin of sloth. It’s intending to do something and never quite getting around to doing it. It is knowing the right thing to do and never doing it. It is seeing a need and failing to act, expecting someone else to meet it. It is faith without works. It is knowing what God wants you to do but then choosing not to do it. What is fascinating is that the devil doesn’t have to get you to commit a sin like lying or cheating. All he has to do is convince you to do nothing. If he can do that, he’s gotten you out of the game of serving God and put you on the sidelines where you commit the sin of sloth.
Second, sloth is not caring. The monastics used the word acedia for sloth which means not to care. The sin of sloth is not just limited to doing nothing, it’s not caring enough to move you to action. So sloth is also a sin of the heart. It’s seeing a homeless person and not being moved by their condition. It’s seeing the pain and brokenness of others and not being affected by it. It’s believing that you can’t make a difference or that you don’t have any responsibility toward others. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Or it’s coming to the place where you say, What does it matter really? When acedia really takes root in your life you begin to think that nothing really matters and you find yourself listless, lethargic, purposeless and in the end you find life meaningless. That’s what happens when sloth takes over which can lead to despair.
So Frank or Hank, which one has a sloth problem? They both do. If sloth is not doing the things that you should do and not caring enough to change that then both were guilty of that. Now there is a time and place for doing nothing. That’s why God created the Sabbath. You see the opposite of sloth is not busyness. Some people who have a sloth problem are actually very busy like Hank. The problem isn’t that they don’t do anything, it’s that they do all sorts of things that they don’t need to do, instead of doing the very things they should be doing.
But that’s none of us right? In a world of PDA’s, cell phones, texting and being overcommitted with little margin in our lives, we have difficulty believing that sloth, or laziness, is a sin that we need to seriously deal with in our lives. We’re willing to admit to being proud, confess to gluttony, and admit to a lustful thought or two, but never laziness. Is it possible for a person who is chronically sleep deprived, and who longs for a moment to put his or her feet up and relax, to be lazy? Should sloth be a concern for those of us who are working longer hours, facing endless commutes, and struggling with diminishing leisure time? The short answer is, “Yes.” In fact, our problem is that we are too busy and some of us need a little down time in our lives. Our busyness can actually keep us from doing the things God wants us to do.