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The Sin of Sloth

By Amanda Siemens

I have a confession to make. I am a lazy person. If there is a path of least resistance, that’s the road I naturally gravitate to. I have been lazy my whole life and if I allowed myself to, I would probably be lazy the rest of it too! People would notice and sometimes comment on my laziness, but as Proverbs 26:16 states, I always felt quite justified in my laziness no matter what anyone said. One day, when I was just starting to learn about the Lord, I was being mentored by an older, wiser woman, she was teaching me something about taking care of my family. I don’t remember, off the top of my head, what it was, but it was something I knew was a very good thing to do. However, I laughed and said I was simply too lazy to do things that way, but it was a very good idea and maybe someday I would try it. This woman was very kind but very blunt and told me that laziness was sin. I shrugged her off. Oh come on. Stealing is sin. Lying is sin. Murder is sin. Laziness may be a bit of a character flaw but it’s certainly not sin! And while I have not yet found a verse that says “and the lazy shalt not inherit the Kingdom of God”, there are dozens of verses that clearly show laziness as a trait to be despised and extinguished. I would like to look at a just a few verses.

One caveat I would like to make, simplifying and doing things more efficiently is not laziness. For example, I do not sort my laundry. I do all colors together. Some may think of this as laziness, and in jest I may call it that myself, but laziness is not doing work because you would rather do something more pleasant. I am a very busy Mommy! I have very active children and I also home school. If a process can be simplified, then it is not so I can get out of important work, but rather so I can do MORE work in the same amount of time. Laziness is summed up in this verse…

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Just a few practical examples: Boxed macaroni and cheese is fast cheap and easy to make. Is feeding our children boxed mac and cheese sin? That appears to be pretty straight forward question but it really isn’t. If, on occasion, we are in a rush, the kids need to eat right now and we have very little time to prepare anything, mac and cheese is a real life saver. If however, I KNOW that boxed mac and cheese is not a very healthy staple diet for the children, but I am constantly making it for the sole purpose is that it is so convenient for me, then it starts to tread into the murky waters. Note this verse above. “To him (or her) that KNOWETH TO DO GOOD (in this case that boxed mac and cheese as a regular diet is not the best nutrition she can give to her children) and doeth it NOT (keep making it a staple because she can’t be bothered to make something more nutritious) to him (or her) it is”…..is what, a bad habit? A character flaw? No. The Bible says it is SIN. Now please remember to make this distinction. The sin isn’t in feeding the children a steady diet of boxed mac and cheese, the sin is having the time and knowledge to do better, and CHOOSING not to solely for the purpose of doing less work. If we KNOW something is harmful or that there is a better way, and we CHOOSE to do differently because we can’t be bothered to put in the effort, then we are sinning.

I find laziness is one sin that many Christians seem to sugar coat and treat very flippantly. I used to go to a church that was very strong in preaching that a woman should be submissive to her husband (and the Bible says that, by the way). One day, we had the family of one of our leaders over for supper. Now, with the people of this group, there were a few very simple dishes that seemed to be staples with everyone. At every meal gathering, at every potluck lunch at ANY gathering, these were the foods that everyone prepared. We were not from this background, and my husband really did not care for this particular plain meal on a regular basis. So I made many different things, as I’d always done. People would often comment to me it was fun to come to our home for a meal because it was like going to a restaurant. That always made me chuckle. It wasn’t that I was preparing unusual or glamorous meals, just that I cooked a wide variety of dishes and learned to make new things occasionally. Anyway, on this evening after the meal was over and the men we talking in the other room, the lady of this family and myself were doing the dishes. This woman made a comment to me that I will never forget. She said she knew her husband would just LOVE for her to make meals like this, but she guessed she was just too lazy to bother. I was blown away. Here was a woman who would tell you that a wife’s God-given duty was to please her husband, but in an area as simple as adding a bit of variety to meal time, she was “just too lazy” to bless him. “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is SIN” (Emphasis mine). I have heard enough examples like this to fill a book!

Now, I quickly want to just look at a couple of verses on the topic of laziness. Get yourself a Strong’s concordance and look up words like sluggard, slothful and idle and you will find many more examples of God’s displeasure with this trait.

Proverbs 18:9 “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”

When we are lazy we have a tendency to be wasteful. When we don’t feel like working, wasting (for example, throwing away leftover supper instead of putting it in containers in the refrigerator, or, and I am particularly bad about this one, throwing out a perfectly good item, such a container or jar, because you can’t be bothered to clean the mess inside it) becomes very easy to do. Remember Proverbs 26:16? We have our excuses, don’t we? But we have to remember our time, money, possessions, everything we think of as ours is really the Lord’s! It may be very easy to waste time, money and effort and have an excuse that makes us feel better, but when we stop to think about it in light of these things we are wasting belonging to the Lord God Almighty instead of being our to waste as we feel like, it takes on a much more serious offence.

Proverbs 21:25 “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor.”

This one is hard for me to put into words, but I’ll try. I was very spoiled growing up. My dad told me if I did all my chores I’d get $20 a week. If I did some of my chores, I’d get $10. If I did nothing, I’d get $8. So essentially, I was rewarded for laziness. Sure, I would get MORE if I worked, but why bother when I would get money, anyway. Well, I was never content. I would want something, but of course I didn’t want to actually WORK for it! My Dad always bought it for me eventually, thus confirming my slothfulness more and more. When I got married, we had very little money. Anything we wanted we had to work for. That did not team up well with my laziness. I would want something; I would want it so badly, I would be so miserable! Would I work for it? Not a chance. I would get more and more melancholy when my husband would not bow to my wants and buy me what I wanted! Thank the Lord He delivered me from such selfishness and indolence!

Proverbs 22:13 “The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”

There is always an excuse we can find for our laziness, but how many of them actually hold water? Now most of us do not live were a lion attack is even a remote threat, but even if we did, what are the odds? There are many many excuses that we give than when we look at them closely, it’s very obvious that that is all that it is, an excuse. Most “reasons” we give for not being able to do something that needs to be done cannot really be a justifiable one. Next time you think of a reason why you cannot possibly do something, take a close look at it and see just how likely it would be that the worst case scenario would actually happen. If it is very remote, then recognize it for laziness and do it anyway! (Stepping on my own toes here!)

Proverbs 20:4 “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

What does the Bible say will be the fruit of our laziness? We will be left out of the harvest! We will have to look at those who have what we had wanted so badly. We may beg and plea to be shared with but we will be left in want.

Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:”

What do we do? We have looked into ourselves and recognize the slothful man in ourselves. What can we do to remedy this malady? God as always has given us the answer. Go to the ant, He tells us. Observe and emulate. This is wise! I am not saying that the solution to laziness is to get into the cupboards and eat sugar, though ants are notorious for doing that. No, what ants do is WORK. They work HARD and they work EFFICIENTLY. Ants are very organized; when they want to get the work done, very little (except a can of Raid) will stop them. You can put all kinds of barriers (that the sloth would love to use as an excuse) in their way and they will find a way to overcome them. So determined are they, that when faced with a moat of water, the first in line will willingly drown so the next one can walk on it’s body and get a bit further! THAT is determination! That is finding a solution even if it an uncomfortable one! Do you know an ant? I know a few. Excuses do not stop them from getting done what needs to get done. So go to them! Watch and learn from them. That is what Titus 2 women are all about! Teaching us poor young women how to work hard and effectively, thus blessing our household with the fruit of our labor.

Just to clarify: There will always be times in our lives when we need to make things as simple as possible, such as during an illness or just after the birth of a baby. These are times when you really must cut corners and relax. However, if your way of life is cutting corners so you can relax, and there is just one excuse after another, perhaps it’s time to look at your heart and see if there isn’t a sloth residing inside!

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