Working hard at what we do is a great skill. There are many people in the world that are considered the best at what they do. Outwardly they look as if they have achieved a lot, possibly made a lot of money and own a lot of possessions. But we hear little about working hard on hearts and minds. We may work hard at what we do, but we need to work harder at what we are.
Being slothful is not just a physical trait, it can be emotional and mental. Many outward hard workers can still have a slothful (lazy) heart and mind.
I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
Proverbs 24: 30-31
The man devoid of understanding (wisdom) had a vineyard, but it was overgrown with thorns, and it's wall was broken down. He had the right idea by buying a vineyard (hard worker), but lacked the wisdom to make it thrive.
Sometimes this is how we act in life. We have the dedication to our work to make the outward successful, but our hearts and minds are overgrown with thorns and nettles. Had the man in the above proverb not been devoid of wisdom inside, his heart and mind would have thrived and his vineyard would have then thrived outwardly.
Being slothful is defined as: "Spiritual or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken, and being physically and emotionally inactive. Sloth can also indicate a wasting due to lack of use, concerning a person, place, thing, skill, or intangible ideal that would require maintenance, refinement, or support to continue to exist." (from wikipedia)
Many people in the world have heard God's voice through His word and yet continue to refuse inward action and growth. This is slothfulness. It is a lazy and idle heart.
Slothfulness is knowing what is right, and after hearing the truth, not taking action. It is not having the inner discipline to do what is right. It is a laziness of thought and feeling.
The word sloth comes from the Greek word for "carelessness." That is essentially what sloth is, a lack of caring. Because if we really cared about the truth of God and what we know is right and what He says to us---we would care enough to come out of our own laziness. Slothfulness is neglecting to use fully the gifts God has given us and we then live a life of God's gifts unused.
This is probably why "slothfulness" is on the list of the seven deadly sins. Because if we don't come out of our own laziness toward the truth of God, we will never accomplish all He has for us. Therefore we have lived a life wasted compared to what our full potential is in God. This is the ultimate result of a lifetime of slothfulness. When we know the truth of God but refuse to put it into action in our daily lives, it is deadly to us spiritually--which then overflows to the heart, mind and body.
Slothfulness doesn't just happen. It is small daily actions that lead to a habit of our hearts. Small daily actions are what define us. Whether we realize it or not, to not be lazy requires intent. We have to have the intent to seek wisdom. The intent to not be spiritually lazy even when we are tired. The intent to pray and seek God's word for us daily. And most of all, we must have the self discipline to respond when God is calling to us.
Resting and being lazy are two different things. The body needs times of rest and break and God tells us resting is good. He knows we need a break sometimes! He designed our human body to need rest to obtain energy. But being constantly slothful is a state of the spirit.
Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas is on to something when he writes, “Sloth is a kind of sadness, whereby a man becomes sluggish..."
If we have a deep sadness, anger, bitterness, or any feeling that is building up and causing the state of our spirit to become sluggish to God, let's pray that God reveals what it is and breaks the chains of our slothfulness!
Being lazy affects everyone around us. Our family and our children will suffer. It affects them because we are holding back and not giving our best to them--spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and from our hearts. If we don't work through our own areas of being stuck, we'll pass it on to them. We may think they don't notice, but they do and in the long term it will affect them and our relationships with them.
Hiding away from the pain that causes our slothfulness, whether behind a computer, tv screen, or whatever else it may be will not make us reach our full potential. The tv shows that we will have forgotten tomorrow were only a band aid. Very few at the end of their life will say "spending all that time on those computer games and tv shows really enriched my life." But the ones who had the wisdom to come out of their spiritual laziness will know that they lived a rich and full life filled with God's presence and love. They will know the self discipline they put into answering the voice of God was more than worth it, even when the path seemed narrow and rocky.
The opposite of laziness is diligence. The diligent heart realizes that by small steps of faithfulness each day, they will reach their goals. The temptation to laziness is still in a diligent persons heart. They have just realized that the diligent heart is faithful and peaceful. The diligent heart seeks wisdom and doesn't give in to the emotions that cause laziness. A diligent heart is steady and attentive to the Holy Spirit.
"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." Proverbs 13:4
Many get paralyzed in building the wall of God's truth around them. They are too lazy to tear down within themselves what needs to be torn down and rebuild based on God's truth for them. We should not desire the broken down wall, but the strong eternal wall around us that is unbreakable.
We can ask God to shine light on the roots of our inner laziness to give us a heart of energy! We don't have to be afraid of what is revealed. God never reveals anything to doom us! He will reveal things that need to be removed that will bring true freedom, joy and a new fullness to our hearts, minds and spirits.
Prayer: "Lord, show me the idle places of my heart and spirit. Shine light on them and give me the faithful energy to remove them so that I can live the full potential of who you created me to be." Amen.
"Leisure is the time for doing something useful. This leisure the diligent person will obtain the lazy one never." -Benjamin Franklin
"The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today." Pope Paul VI
"The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession." Proverbs 12:27
"The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” Proverbs 22:13
"The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing." Proverbs 20:4