Sloth Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Sloth

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In the “seven deadly sins” tradition, sloth is a sad or restless or ungrateful boredom in the face of God and the good. Sloth is spiritual indifference.

In Scripture

Loafing “Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). “How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep?” (Prov. 6:9) “A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!” (19:24). “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb. 6:12, NIV).

Meaningless See Ecclesiastes 1 and 2, where wisdom, pleasures, and toil all appear to be meaningless.

Failure to follow through “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (Matt. 7:26). “I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground” (Matt. 25:25, NIV). “from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (25:29). Also see the same saying in Mark 4:25, where the context is failure to hear and apply Jesus’ teaching in his parables.

Fruitlessness “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction” (Gal. 6:8, NIV). “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (James 2:14).

Inalertness Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins

Suppression of truth The “ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18).

Ingratitude Adam and Eve’s discontent with their lot; Israel’s grumbling in the wilderness; Elijah’s self-pity; Jeremiah’s repeated indictment of people who “forget God” or “turn their backs” on God; Jesus’ disciples jockeying for the status of “the greatest”; “Though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him . . .” (Rom. 1:21).

Points to Ponder

The sin of sloth is not healthy rest (recreation, sabbatical) mere laziness, (though laziness is usually an ingredient in it), clinical depression, nor doubt, let alone lament (which requires real faith)

Jonathan Edwards In his treatise on Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards writes that the principal sign of whether we are truly regenerated is not how much we talk about Jesus. According to the gospels, people who say “Lord” all the time don’t necessarily impress God. After all, talk is cheap—and Edwards uses almost exactly those words. To follow Jesus we have to practice what he preached. And what Jesus preached is that a good tree is known by its fruit, not by its twigs or leaves or heaving branches. And a Christian is known by his Godly practice, not by his good intentions or pious talk or spiritual hand-waving. A good tree is known by producing actual fruit, and a good Christian is known by producing actual good works. "Godliness consists not in a heart which intends to do the will of God but in a heart which does it" (Edwards, Religious Affections, vol. 2, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University 1959, pp. 135-37, 427).

Robert McCracken In What Is Sin? What Is Virtue? McCracken says that the slothful person at last “believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing he would die for.”

Ingratitude is poor spiritual hygiene, but gratitude is a powerful engine of joy.

Snit Children can sometimes get themselves in a snit. They lose interest in toys, games, even video games. They get irritable. They start snapping at others. They don’t want to do anything. They fold their arms and declare, “I’m bored!” Spiritually speaking, sloth is a snit.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.