“Why do you run beating dust in the air?
Why do you hurry as if the world needs your care?
Hey, the world’s on its own, buddy;
You ain’t gonna make it any inch better!
Come, enjoy some rum, be a good bum;
Let’s gulp some spirit and get into the gutter!”
– Domenic Marbaniang, Stranger (2014)
SLOTH (ACEDIA) has long been regarded by the Church as one of the 7 Deadly Sins. It has been associated with torpor, listlessness, carelessness, apathy, lethargy, idleness, and boredom. The Bible regards sloth as wickedness (Matt.25:26; Tit.1:12), the cause of poverty (Prov.24:30-34), and filled with vain desires and gluttony (Prov.21:25,26; Tit.1:12). A slothful man, the Bible says, is brother to a great destroyer (Prov.18:9). To associate with a lazy man is to invite destruction to home. The Bible warns us against being slothful. Following are few kinds of sluggards that we find in the world:
1. The Lazy Messenger: He is as sour as vinegar to the teeth and as irritating as smoke to the eyes of the sender (Prov.10:26). This guy may never reach on time, and chances are he will not deliver the full message because he is too lazy to be careful to either remember the whole message or to even speak it all out.
Watch out: A lazy preacher will not be careful to hear from God nor to speak out with passion and diligence. SIMILARLY, a lazy listener will doze off or go daydreaming while the preacher is preaching; and, in case, he has listened pleasurably, chances are he won’t be able to deliver to you when you ask him later on what was preached today.
2. The Half-hearted Worker: He won’t cook the food that he brings home, and cares nothing about the losses his laziness brings to him (Prov.12:27). There are two extreme types of this sluggard: (a) The guy who has the food resources, but decides to stay hungry (or get some fast food if available) because he is too lazy to cook his meal. (b) The guy who will not wait for the food to be cooked. Imagine someone eating vegetables and meat raw!
The half-hearted sluggard wastes even the fruit of his little labor that he half-heartedly undertook. The fact that the meat is going to rot if not roasted in time doesn’t bother him very much. But, a man of diligence reserves and preserves his things; therefore, diligence is a man’s precious possession.
3. The Dreaming Sluggard: He has big dreams and high aspirations but not enough passion to pursue them. Therefore, it is said that the “desire of the lazy man kills him, because his hands refuse to labor” (Prov.21:25). The sluggard desires much but has nothing (Prov.13:4). Many people have big dreams about their future, but only few are able to successfully pursue, mainly because sloth kills the future of a person. It takes diligence to build lives. Many preachers have big dreams, and write big vision statements on their websites and brochures, but their work is very deficient; sloth keeps them from praying sufficiently, studying sufficiently, planning sufficiently, and pursuing sufficiently. Some even are satisfied with the little growth they got and settle down to a vacationing life-style. They never reach the destination God has prepared for them.
4. The Negative-minded Sluggard: He complains of impossibilities and makes a hundred excuses to justify his failures. He will complain that the road he is walking on is like a hedge of thorns, so difficult to walk upon (Prov.15:19); he is somehow dragging on. But, the way of the diligent, the right-minded person (righteous one) is a highway. Hasn’t it been well said, “Where there is a will, there is a way”? The sluggard will also make excuses like, “There is a lion outside; if I go on the street, it will kill me” (Prov.22:13). His negative mind is filled with all kinds of irrational fear. He has an excuse for not joining a job, not doing a business, not going to a city; he has many excuses for not venturing out at all. He will never be proactive and so his life is never productive. But, productivity belongs to the person with the right-positive-mind. Note there are those with wrong-positive-mind; e.g., the devil who believes he can destroy God – positive minded, but very wrongly. Also, there are a lot many positive-minded people in lunatic asylums as well – but, they may be better than the next sluggard.
5. The Self-confident Sluggard: He considers himself to be wiser than anybody else. The Bible says that the sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Prov.26:16). In other words, if a guy is a chronic sluggard, no amount of sensible talk is going to persuade him; he will flip out a nonsensical answer for every sensible argument and still consider himself absolutely wise. Often times, many people don’t get to know truth because they write it off on the face without making any deep introspection of it. The sluggard may say, “Well, anything religious is superstitious; therefore, I refuse to even enter the discussion.” He is satisfied that he doesn’t need to get into the labor of inspecting those “blind-beliefs”. He is lazy to question his own convictions, if he has any. A self-confident sluggard considers everybody else to be fools. Therefore, he is not open to any reasonable talk.
6. The Impossible Sluggard: “A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.” (Pro 19:24) This is laziness beyond imagination. This guy is so lazy to even put his food into his mouth! I’m afraid that even if someone showed foolish compassion on him enough to put the food into his mouth, he will not chew the food. He is truly the “impossible sluggard”!
7. The Comfort Seeking Sluggard: This guy will miss every good opportunity in life, because when the door of opportunity opens, he won’t get in because of the little pain involved in the opportunity. “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.” (Pro 20:4) This sluggard has so many things on his list that he won’t join a job because it doesn’t fit everything on his comfort-list, he won’t go out and do work because of rain or snow or heat or cold; not because weather may kill him, but because he wants to live in absolute comfort. He will toss this way and that way on his bed, but never get up to meet the day (Prov.26:14).
8. The Reckless Sluggard: You will recognize this guy from the way he dresses, the way he keeps his shoes, car, house, office, and garden. “And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.” (Pro 24:31) This guy doesn’t care for anything at all. He is absolutely dirty, grubby, squalid, and untidy. He is the most attractive object for the army of poverty, because he will do nothing to fight it back. He is lazy to test wisdom and apply it to improve things. Any city abandoned by intelligent beings will soon fall to ruins; it is the application of intelligence that keeps the Law of Decay (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) from destroying our world. But the sluggard is a man “devoid of understanding” (Prov.24:30); in other words, the guy who wallows in folly.
9. The Wicked Sluggard: This guy is wicked because he blames the righteous for his unethical and selfish acts of laziness. An example of this sluggard is the servant who received the one talent from his master, but went about and buried it because he didn’t want to double it for the profit of his master. He is so self-seeking that he doesn’t want to do anything that he thinks will not bring profit to him, and will never go the extra-mile for someone else. When the master comes, he blames the master as someone who reaps where he doesn’t sow and gathers where he didn’t scatter seed (Matt.25:24-26). The wicked sluggard is the dishonest man who works for a business or for government but never goes the extra-mile for the benefit of the other; however, he will do whatever he can to use his position for self-profit. He is wicked because he is lazy to labor for others. The wicked sluggard is like the preacher who will not go to preach unless he is paid enough (in the present). He will also not have others (bankers) get involved for the profit of the master. The master throws him out and gives the one talent he had to the ones who multiplied the talents that he gave them.
10. The Lazy Glutton: This guy is described as a liar, evil beast, and lazy glutton (Tit.1:12). This sluggard becomes an easy prey to the “many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers… who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.” (Tit 1:10-11). The Bible says that such must be rebuked sharply so that they may be sound in faith. The lazy glutton needs strong rebuke because he doesn’t take truth seriously, because he easily falls to carnal passions, and because he will change beliefs for a bowl of pottage.
The Bible commands the sluggard to go to the ant and learn from them:
“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Pro 6:6-8)
Note: The ant never blames any master, society, weather, or the world. It works in team, it works for community profit, it works when it is summer and never misses its opportunity.
The Bible exhorts believers to never be slothful but pursue on to inherit God’s promises:
“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:12)