Deadly? . . . Sloth?
March 25, 2018
Well, I’ve saved the best for last! Today we’re ending our series on the 7 Deadly Sins, as we hope to learn how to avoid these traps and instead to draw closer to God so we can reach our FULL POTENTIAL.
Last week, Eric told you about what it means to be a glutton. That sounded fun! Well, today, I’m going to share with you the deadly sin of being a sloth! Yup, a sloth. That slow moving animal. I did some research to learn more about what a sloth is. Here are some interesting facts ~
Their hands and feet have long, curved claws to allow them to hang upside down from branches without effort, and since they can’t walk, those claws are used to drag them on the ground.
When a sloth moves, it moves at an average speed of 13 ft per minute. They usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from branches. They sometimes remain hanging from branches after they die. They can reduce their metabolism and stay under water for up to 40 minutes. Sloths sleep 15-20 hours per day and spend 80 – 90 % of their time motionless.
If someone says you’re being slothful, that’s what they’re referring to. You’re motionless and inactive.
When we compare the other 6 sins with slothfulness. . . being a sloth, which means, we’re lazy, a slackard, a sluggard, unmotivated . . . and we think, so what’s the big deal? After all, there’s anger, lust, pride, greed, envy, gluttony – – those seem worse than being slothful and some lead to death.
How can we even worry about being a sloth in our world. We are the most on the go generation ever. We live on Red Bull, Monster, extra caffeine in our coffee and Mountain Dew. We take fewer vacations, work longer hours, are doing home improvement work, are taking the kids everywhere. We come home exhausted and want to take a few minutes or hours just to unwind to rest and catch our breath. Slothful? No way!!
Maybe being slothful is more about our relationship with God, and how we’ve moved away from Him. Maybe all the time we spend on social media could be better spent with God. Consider how much time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Youtube, plus whatever I left out. Add to that X-box, Play Station and phone games. Add up your hours per day and compare that to your minutes with God. So, maybe there’s something deadly about being a sloth!
We do our best to justify our actions or lack of actions. Proverbs 6 tells us ~
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 6:9-11
I mean, look at verse 10, a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest. What’s so bad about that? Isn’t a little nap kind of nice sometimes? We get that power nap and are ready to go again. So, what’s the big deal?
Bryan Wilkerson wrote about the desert fathers, the monks of the 3rd and 4th century – – they described Sloth as “the noon-day demon.” They discovered that in the middle of the day, when the sun was high and their metabolism low, they found it difficult to focus on prayer and study. It was easier to look out the window and daydream – – to wonder if life might be better somewhere else.
Listen to the words of Evagrius Ponticus, a fourth-century monk, wrote this ~
The demon of acedia … attacks the monk about the fourth hour [at 10:00am]. It seems that the sun moves slowly or not at all, and the day seems to be 50 hours long. The monk thinks manual labor would have been better, and that nobody cares about him, and he begins to desire to be somewhere else and his thoughts are no longer focused on God.
In the 7th century, Pope Gregory described sloth as the temptation to take the easy way out and to avoid hard things. Aquinas defined sloth as a lack of appetite for God. A.W. Tozer described it as spiritual complacency — an unwillingness to grow in faith. A contemporary theologian, Peter Kreeft said sloth includes busyness as well as laziness. The workaholic may be as guilty as the couch potato, because their constant activity keeps them from attending to the most important things and people in life.
Slothfulness sneaks up on us. We don’t think we’re lazy or a sluggard. We’re just the opposite, we’re on the go and others admire us because we can get so much done in only 24 hours. The phrase “multi-tasking” wasn’t around 20 years ago. When we’re multi-tasking, how much of that time is devoted to God?
Are we spending more time on our NCAA March madness brackets or on God? Are we reading all kinds of books, other than the Bible?
There’s nothing wrong with March Madness and watching basketball or reading books. But do they get in the way of God? Are we checking out what our friends were doing on social media, then complaining about them? Could we be praying for them?
Could this be a picture of us as we tend our gardens?
Proverbs 24 talks about a garden like this ~
30 I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.
32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34
We think who would allow their garden, their vineyard to get like that? Again, we see the same ending. The deeper point is the fact that this person was not doing what was most important. What was most important was tending to their field. And they were dozing instead. When we get that way we miss those God moments. Why? Because we’re too busy, too preoccupied with whatever else is going on in life.
We may even be too busy doing good things. Yes, that’s possible. I remember wanting to date a girl long before I met Debbie. We talked on the phone and seemed to get along . . . yet she was always busy. Maybe that was her nice way of saying she didn’t want to go out with me. One night it was her hair, the next it was her nails . . . Just joking.
Actually, she had something going on at her church every night! Every single night! Now, honestly, I don’t want you here every night! That’s not healthy. She was busy, but my hunch was that she was running from something . . . me. I knew it wasn’t healthy! And we can easily do that.
We can fill our lives with busyness. We can substitute other things and activities so that we end up not growing closer to Christ. Ultimately, we don’t reach our full potential in who Christ is calling us to be. Sometimes we can be too lazy, and sometimes we can be too active. We need to find that healthy balance.
The point is that we should be active in growing closer to Christ through being involved in various ministry activities. And I don’t want you to do that because you have to. Get involved, get closer to Christ because you’ve experienced His powerful presence in your life. It’s part of what we celebrate this week. We remember the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice of Christ . . . and then we celebrate the power and joy of the resurrection next Sunday.
So, what’s part of the cure for over and under – activity? I believe it comes in our relationship with Christ. It’s knowing who He is and what He’s done for us. Listen to these words from Paul in Ephesians 2 ~
For this final section of scripture I spoke from my heart about the joy and power of being saved by His grace . . . and that should lead us to draw closer to Christ and lead us away from slothfulness!!
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved —
6 and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10
If we could actually slow ourselves down and really listen to those words from Paul. This is kind of long . . . and I’m going to quickly highlight the meaning of these verses and then we’ll end. We’re going to look at verses from Ephesians 1 ~
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
4 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will,
6 to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,
8 which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
11 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:3-14