Definition of sloth
1 a: disinclination to action or labor : INDOLENCE
b: spiritual apathy and inactivity
After twelve months of Covid lockdowns, early 2021 seemed promising. My family and I drove to downtown Austin to rent electric bikes. The rental company’s package deal included a tour of the city. Although we live in Round Rock, we rarely venture beyond the more rural part of Austin’s MSA. The weekend day that we selected for our odyssey was perfect. The sun was glowing, the sky was blue, and the temperature was pleasant.
The young man who served as our tour guide was gregarious. I estimated his age to be in the mid-twenties range. He enjoyed showing off downtown Austin. His social skills were matched only by his love to talk about the future. He was passionate about technological advancements, especially those that would eliminate work for human beings. By his estimates, no one would have to “lift a finger” in about twenty years due to artificial intelligence (AI). In his mind, the coming advanced world would be a utopia. I have thought about his comments at length this year.
Going forward a few months to October, a news item caught my attention. The U.S. Navy released results of an investigation pertaining to the burning and total destruction of Bonhomme Richard. The state–of-the-art amphibious ship had been undergoing upgrades at San Diego’s naval base. The ship was docked safely, but flames took the mighty vessel down. Although arson was the cause of the initial fire, negligence was attributed to Bonhomme Richard’s demise. Officers and sailors allowed the blaze to spread for two hours without containment. Loss of the ship was officially linked to insufficient training and the crew’s lack of urgency. The irrecoverable boat’s value was estimated at 1.2 billion dollars.
I thought about how Bonhomme Richard’s destruction related to the tour guide’s assessment of a work-free society. The ship’s fire initially generated no human effort to respond. A weapon of defense was given away to lack of action and unpreparedness. Sloth created negligence. I pondered, “Is this where the new utopia is headed?”
The Culture’s Devaluing of Work
Our era has produced human idleness that is unmatched in history. We have to go back to the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers to observe the positive attributes of individual initiative. My father’s father worked with his hands on a farm. My father was a coal miner in West Virginia. These men had skills that I am ashamed to say I do not possess. Past generations expected to work by the sweat of their brow. And in doing so, they learned a few things.
God created man for work. Even in this fallen world, the intrinsic value of work goes beyond producing finished products. Use of muscle creates the release of endorphins that results in better health and outlook. As for myself, I feel much better after pushing the lawn mower in my yard…minimal effort changes the chemical properties of my body and mind. Work refreshes man.
Unfortunately, we often wait for someone or something else to step in to do the work. Many times, I believe we stand by so that technology and medical advancements can “make life easier.” Additionally, we are addicted to entertainment…it’s hard to move from the easy chair. As a culture, we attempt to bypass exertion and responsibility. Looking for ways to avoid effort has become a prime objective.
Furthermore, we have become an excuse-driven society. Our culture often uses faulty reasoning or fear to justify indolence. Proverbs 22:13 states, “The lazy one says, there is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!” This is the attitude of those who fall to sloth. It leads to collapse at all levels.
Spiritual Apathy Drives Slothfulness
Although Covid lockdowns and restrictions have expedited our descent into slothfulness, our current pitiful state can be linked to spiritual apathy. Sloth is a result of many different sin issues. It is a byproduct of something much deeper…it is a spiritual problem far too vast to address in a single blog post.
I remember when the American church was intentional in its relationship with God. Obeying was a priority. As a result, the culture was heavily influenced because it witnessed the results of a body that followed Christ. Christians were willing to take risks and losses for God. Today we are comfortable, we have become spiritually lazy. For instance, how many of us visit our neighbors, how many of us know our neighbors’ names? It takes effort to love and to know people.
Jesus directly addresses spiritual apathy in the Parable of the Talents. The Lord’s teaching exposes the tragedy of wasted opportunity. He rejects idleness during the time allotted to us. Alternatively, our faithfulness to Him is found in actions that generate some fruit. As recipients of God’s divine grace and countless blessings, we are to be diligent in glorifying Him by sowing the seeds of His gospel.
Working for God’s Glory
The great benefit of turning fifty-two years of age in 2022 is that I have lived long enough to see all of God’s principles proven true. The Creator and His ways are life, and they are remarkable. I am privileged to witness His word in action. His goodness and love have become my motivation.
As I encounter 2022, I pray that God increases my own zeal for glorifying Him. May I possess diligence in rejoicing, persevering, praying, helping others, and practicing hospitality. As I become more intentional and more active, may I become a brighter light for Christ in this fallen world.
Ultimately, our passion for the Lord cannot be hidden in any aspect of our lives. It is displayed in our vocations and relationships. In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul states, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” May we move! May we engage in action! May our love for Him enhance productivity in all aspects of our lives!
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and tend it.
The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy hand will be put to forced labor.
I passed by the field of a lazy one, And by the vineyard of a person lacking sense,
And behold, it was completely overgrown with weeds; Its surface was covered with weeds, And its stone wall was broken down.
Through extreme laziness the rafters sag, and through idleness the house leaks.
"Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' "But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.“
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
And we desire that each one of you demonstrate the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and endurance inherit the promises.