Sloth: Deadly Sin #5

One fine fall day, an earthworm went out for a walk. Down the garden path, he spotted a slug. The slug was sitting in front of a patch of weeds bordered by a row of rubble.

"Hello, neighbor." said the worm. "I am curious. Why is your field full of weeds when everyone else's is full of flowers and fruits?"

"I come out here every morning at the crack of noon to work in my garden." said the slug. "But I canot till the ground with all these weeds."

"Why don't you cut the weeds?"

"Because by the time I am ready to cut the weeds, it is usually raining. I cannot cut weeds in the rain."

"I see." said the worm, who truly did not understand, but could think of nought else to say.

"I could use some help." said the slug. "I'm not lazy, you see. Just unlucky."

"I wish you better luck then." said the worm. "Goodbye, friend slug."

"I'm not a slug. I'm a snail. I just didn't feel like getting dressed today.

I know you've been expecting a sermon on sloth, so here it is. Don't do it. It's bad. (steps down from the pulpit.) Thank you all for coming. Just kidding. (gets back up.)

Of all the topics covered in Proverbs, Sloth is definitely one of them. It is also one of the most clearly and thoroughly covered sins mentioned in the book.

To many, sloth seems pretty innocuous. "What's so bad about being lazy?" they say. "I'm not hurting anyone but myself."

Certainly that last bit is true. Sloth hurts the slothful. Scripture certainly bears this out.

Proverbs 10:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

Proverbs 26:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!"
14 As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (NIV)
Proverbs 21:25 The craving of the lazy person is fatal, for lazy hands refuse to labor.

But it gets worse.

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the lazy will be put to forced labor. (NRS)

As opposed as I am to forced labor, I sometimes think it's a shame that we've done away with slavery. It is good to take care of the truly needy, but in our society, government subsidies and welfare checks reward laziness. We, the taxpayers, give the lazy dollar after dollar to do nothing. In the days of ancient Israel, such a person would quickly have found himself selling himself into slavery just to survive. Of course, laziness in the 20th Century isn't without consequence. Someone who gets a job in the mailroom of the wesayso corporation and never shows any initiative isn't going to become a vice-president whose primary responsibility is to sip coffee while gazing thoughtfully out the window. When the time comes for retirement, he's still going to be sorting mail and have absolutely nothing saved up to live on. On the extreme end, he could be like me. I have to work out for an hour a day or my blood sugar will spiral out of control and I will die. I could just say "I'm handicapped and physical exertion is much too painful." ...Which is true. But I'm not going to do that because I don't want to die. Not today, anyhow.

But sloth doesn't just hurt the slothful. Have you ever been counting pon someone to do something only to have them let you down for no apparent reason?

Proverbs 10:26 As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.

Proverbs 5:5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. (NIV)

Besides that, laziness is a form of conceit. A sluggard spends a lot of time thinking up excuses. He convinces himself that his excuses are legitimate, and as he makes himself stupider, he believes himself wiser.

Proverbs 26:16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

I should also point out that sloth, like many other sins is insidious in that it sneaks up on you. Often, you don't realize you're being lazy until it comes back to haunt you.

Proverbs 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
But just as laziness brings consequence, diligence brings reward.

Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 15:19 The way of the lazy is overgrown with thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.

Proverbs 12:27 The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions. (NIV)

Of course, this does not mean that there is no time for relaxation. Rest is not only enjoyable, but essential. The problem is when the desire for rest becomes disproportional to everything else and displaces necessary activity. If you need to take five once in a while, go ahead. You don't have to feel guilty about relaxing, as long as everything that needs to be done is getting done.

And with that, I end this message and go sit down on the pew.

Pastor Oren Otter
September 6, 2006

Today's Scripture Reading: Proverbs 24:30-34

30 I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
31 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--
34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (NIV)