Overcoming sin through Christ: Laziness or Slothfulness

Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Laziness or Slothfulness

Laziness or Slothfulness

We’ve probably known people who had a reputation of being lazy.  In fact, people joke about their being a “couch potato,” a word that means “a person who spends much time sitting or lying down, usually watching television.”[1][1] Thus, a couch potato is a lazy and slothful person, with nothing better to do than to lie around.

One of the traditional “seven deadly sins” is slothfulness.  Sloth means “aversion to work or exertion; laziness; indolence.”  A sluggard is “a slothful person; an idler,” and it means “lazy.”  Lazy means “resistant to work or exertion; disposed to idleness.”[2][2]  Apparently all three terms are contemporary, but we believe that “laziness” is the more common.

We know that the Christian is to be earnest, fervent, diligent, and active.  Paul says we are not to be “lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).  This doesn’t sound like a lazy and indolent person, does it!  The Hebrew writer says that we are not to be “sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:12).  This says that the spiritually sluggish person will not inherit God’s promises.  Paul writes, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  If we are “always abounding” in God’s work, we cannot continue with a sluggish attitude toward life and work. Even Franklin recognized the value of diligence.  One of his 13 virtues was “industry,” and his principle was: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful, cut off all unnecessary actions.” While Franklin wasn’t a true Christian, this is good advice.

Proverbs has much to say about the sin of slothfulness.  “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing” (13:4a).  “The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (15:19). “He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys” (18:9).  “Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger” (19:15).  “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work” (21:25).  “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road!  A lion is in the open square!’ As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.  The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.  The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer” (26:13-16).

As we can see, the writer of Proverbs has nothing good to say about the lazy or slothful person who refuses to work and be active.  He counsels the sluggard, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise” (6:6).  Have you ever observed ants at their ant hill?  There is constant motion, continual activity, incessant work!  We are to learn from this little, busy creature of God!

If we are intent upon leading the most comfortable life possible, we are acting contrary to Jesus’ command that we should lose our lives and deny ourselves. . . . If we cannot give up our demands for comfort, for much free time and rest, for better pay, they will make it impossible for us to use our time and energy for Jesus. . . . So we have to let Jesus’ words pierce our hearts, learn to abhor our softness and love of comfort and in faith renounce what would make us unfit to serve Jesus properly. That means, for instance, giving up our desire for special comforts, for the most beautiful home, for the best interior decorating and for the food that we especially enjoy.

Keeping Jesus in mind, whom we want to follow, we must repent and take a new path, for example if we have let our family or others serve us more than necessary, or if we have avoided difficult work and in these ways have left the path of Jesus.  Jesus tells us, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). . . . When we serve others, not asking for anything special or unnecessary, and not expecting any comfort, we are not only on Jesus’ way, we are actually bound to Him.  That is why, in spite of all the sacrifice, it is not a difficult way.[3][3]

Apparently there were some brothers in Thessalonica who were also lazy and refused to work.  Paul writes, “We hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined live, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11).  He says that these lazy ones are to “work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (v. 12). In contrast, the faithful brothers are commanded, “Do not grow weary of doing good” (v. 13).  In one of Jesus’ parables (the Parable of the Talents), He has the master say, “You wicked, lazy slave” (Matthew 25:26).  Laziness and wickedness are directly related!  This is a character trait that we need to renounce so that we can begin to live an active life of service to the Lord and to others.


[1][1] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[2][2] The American Heritage College Dictionary.

[3][3] Schlink, You Will Never be the Same, pp. 166-167.

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