Sloth, or laziness, is named as one of the seven deadly sins. Why is simple laziness such a sin? Aren't we entitled to be a little lazy when we feel like it?
That word “entitled” should set off an alarm right off the bat. Any time we think we are “entitled” to something we are treading on dangerous ground.
Laziness is a very self-indulgent mind-set; a selfish attitude that says, in effect, “I want to do what I want to, when I want to, the way I want to".
In other words, laziness indicates that we are being ruled by our own desires, elevating our own wants above all else.
We place ourselves on the throne as ruler of our own lives, rather than acknowledging that God is Sovereign.
If we are a child of God, we are not our own, we were bought with a price, and our task now is to do what God has for us.
according to His plans, not our own. Laziness is the exact opposite of Godliness.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost
which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Since we know that we reap what we sow, it is easy to see that being lazy is not in our own best interests, We each have the jobs God has assigned us,
whether it is washing dishes and doing laundry for our family or working outside the home. Laziness, leaving things unfinished or done haphazardly, leads to
confusion and chaos, and robs us and those around us.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
She has no guide, overseer, or ruler, but provides her meat in
the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.
How long wilt you sleep, O sluggard? when will you arise out of your
sleep? Just a little more sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the
hands to sleep: because of it, your poverty shall come as one that
travels (suddenly and unexpectedly), and your want as an armed
man (powerful and overwhelming). (Proverbs 6:6-11)
Habits of lazy indolence and indulgence grow on us; we easily become comfortable in sloth, and indulge in it more and more. This causes wastes our time, energies, and resources,
and eventually will result in poverty.
And certainly laziness in the physical realm opens the door to laziness in the spiritual realm as well. Indulging ourselves by sleeping in on Sunday mornings
instead of attending worship services leaves us
in a state of spiritual poverty, allowing us to drift further and further away from God and His plan for our lives. Assembling with other Christians in worship is
the life, the food, and nourishment of our souls; we cannot grow and flourish in the Spirit if we are lazy in spiritual matters.
In addition to leaving us spiritually and eventually physically impoverished, laziness, procrastination, and working
halfheartedly destroys our Christian witness and makes us ineffective in the kingdom of God. Scripture tells us to do our work not as if we are working for man,
but as if we are working for the Lord.
No matter what our job is, no matter who great or how small, how we do it is a measure of our obedience to the Lord's commands.
We cheat both God and others by our laziness, and rob ourselves of the blessings attached to obedience.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not
unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward
of the inheritance:for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)
There is an old saying, "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Preparing for our job gives us a feeling of capability, knowing that we are doing all we can to assure it's successful completion.
Knowing that we have done our job to the best of our ability is a good feeling; it leaves us feeling satisfied and content. On the other hand, being lazy and doing our job poorly or leaving things
unfinished leaves us feeling unsatisfied, discontent, and unhappy with our job, our circumstances, even with our lives.
Procrastinating causes us needless frustration and anxiety and causes us to make mistakes because we are rushing around at the last minute trying to get things done.
We have a tendency to blame others for our poor performance, but all too often, if we look at the situation honestly,
we find that we have caused our own problems, simply by putting things off until the very last minute, then frantically trying to get the job done.
We aren't always going to love our job, in fact, sometimes we may dislike it intensely, but we still need to do it wholeheartedly and well, as faithful servants of the Lord,
without complaining. Sometimes we just have to do what is needed, rather than what we would like. God has put us right where we are, and has given us this specific
job for a reason, and we are happiest when we seek His plans, and then do the work that He has prepared for us,
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless,
the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst
of a crooked and perverse nation, among
whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Phil. 2:14-15)
The people around us sees Christ in us when we obey God's Word and do our work with a happy heart and a cheerful attitude. They do NOT see Him when we are lazy and
unreliable, when we do shoddy work, when we grumble and complain or have a bad attitude, or when we demonstrate unethical work or business practices.
They do not see Christ in us when we look like the rest of the world. Doing all of our work as unto the Lord sets us apart from the majority of the
people around us, and you can believe they notice the difference when we have a Christ-like attitude toward our daily work. We will shine like lights among them.
In view of all this, each of us should examine our own hearts and attitudes, for the warning signs of laziness. It is a sure sign of a heart problem if we find ourselves frequently:
- Making excuses for why we can't do our task or why we did it poorly. The flimsier our excuses, the more we've allowed laziness to take control.
- Blaming others for why we didn't do our job or did it poorly. It is our responsibility to do our work, regardless of the actions of others. The blame game doesn't excuse our failures, it only highlights our unwillingness to be accountable for our own actions.
- Procrastinating: or even outright avoiding tasks we don't want to do. Procrastination is lazy and self-indulgent, and a sure sign we aren't doing as we should.
- Picking and choosing only what we “feel” like doing. As with anything else in life, we have to learn to take the good with the bad, it is all part of the whole. We can't rely on our “feelings” as a reliable indicator of what we are to do; we simply have to do what must be done, even though we may not “feel” like it.
- Failing to communicate, to find out exactly what we are to do, or how to do it. That leaves us the excuse of “Well, I didn't know”, or “You didn't tell me that”. (that leads back to #2, blaming others!)
- Being sloppy and careless in our work habits, not caring if it's done done right or even at all. Being willing to cut corners or act in an unethical manner.
- Grumbling, complaining, gossiping, cursing, back-biting, or badmouthing. As well as being rude, these all demonstrate that we do not have a right heart and are not doing our work as unto the Lord.
All of these things are warning signs indicating a self-indulgent, lazy attitude. Most of us are human, and find ourselves sometimes doing some of the things on this list at one time or another. This isn't about an occasional lapse; we're talking about a lifestyle of laziness. If we find that any or all of these things are habitual to us, a routine part of our daily work, then we need to repent of our laziness and change our attitude if we want to be useful servants in God's kingdom, and receive the blessings of obedience.
God is not going to bless us with more if we do not faithfully and diligently take care of what He has already given us. This applies to everything in our life, whether it is the material blessings He gives us to enjoy life, or the talents and the opportunities He gives us. This principal is made clear in Scripture, in Christ's teachings about the three servants, one of whom was given five talents, one was given two talents, and one was given only one talent. (Matt. 25:15-29)
The one who received the five talents used them diligently, and made five more talents by the time his Lord returned. The one who had received the two talents also put his talents to good use, and made two more. But the one with only one talent didn't use it, he buried it in the dirt, and thus had nothing to show for it when his Master returned.
Jesus commended the two who worked with what they were given and increased their talents. He called them good and faithful servants, and said that since they had been faithful over these few things, He would make them rulers over much more, and they would enter into the joy of the Lord.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant:
thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler
over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matt. 25:21)
But the last one – the lazy one who had hidden the talent he had been given, instead of using it – Jesus had some harsh words for. He called that servant both WICKED and
SLOTHFUL. Then Jesus told him he would lose even what little he had been given, since he hadn't used it.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful
servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather
where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my
money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have
received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him,
and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one
that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from
him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:26-30)
The principal Jesus was teaching was that we cannot be good and faithful servants if we are lazy and don't make the best use of what has been given to us. He will not give us more if we aren't taking care of what we already have. Our rewards depend on our actions: using our talents wisely brings rewards, while laziness and self-indulgence are a sin against our Lord, and causes us to lose our rewards. And most important of all: our laziness does not glorify our God.
As with everything else in life, when we learn to put our own wants and desires aside and learn to do things God's way, we are the ones to reap the rewards. Our task may be difficult, our job may not be the one we want, but doing it cheerfully and wholeheartedly, to the best of our ability, demonstrates Christ to the world around us, benefiting us as well as others. And ultimately, it glorifies and honors our Lord.