When I think of slothfulness, I usually think about the movie Zootopia in which the workers at the DMV are actual sloths. Their reactions to their counterpart characters in the movie (a rabbit and a fox) are hilarious. The sloths react in super slow motion to everything that is said to them and their pace of work is almost at a standstill. Believe me, the irony of how the actual DMV is seen by most folks in society is not lost on filmgoers. If you’ve never seen this Walt Disney film, it’s a great one to catch with the kids or grandkids.
But slothfulness itself is really nothing to laugh about. Someone who has become slothful is about as pathetic of a person as you would want to meet. All aspects of their life are taken over by a willingness to put everything off until the infamous tomorrow.
In the Bible, a slothful person is referred to often as a sluggard and there are many verses, especially in the Book of Proverbs, concerning this sin. One of the ways Solomon addresses this issue is to compare the sluggard to an ant.
Proverbs 6:6-11 in the New Living Translation states this:
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
Those are some tough words!
I think most of us can relate to laziness when it comes to some sort of work. Whether it is housework, homework, or job-related work, we understand that slackness will get us nowhere. But the areas I don’t think we often give enough attention to in regards to where we are being lazy is digging into God’s Word or praying.
I will be the first to admit that when I get lazy concerning these two very important things, it’s usually because I have allowed my life to become overscheduled or I have allowed something else to inch up my priority list. Embarrassingly, I have even pushed them so far down the list that they simply fell off the list for periods of time.
But God is a good God and He never allows me to get too far away before He will start convicting me in this area.
Now I don’t read the Bible for hours on end, nor do I pray for hours early in the morning or late at night. I do, however, try to keep something (e.g., a devotional, a book, a note about a sermon) in front of me to remind me it’s time to slow down and give God my attention. And yet, even with that, I feel I have really let God down by not blocking off more time. It’s just lazy of me not to rearrange my life so that the focus remains squarely on Him rather than my constant to-do list.
Now here is the verse in the Bible that just wrecks me when I think about how shallow I can be with my time with God:
Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
This passage convicts me.every.single.time!
How can I be doing the will of my Father when I won’t take the time to read His word and talk with Him? It just can’t be done.
I really, really, really love Jesus. I am sure you do too! How in the world do I allow things to get so off track at times? Laziness, plain and simple.
Y’all, it is time to get back to basics!
How can we combat this spiritual slothfulness and honor our Father in Heaven the way we should? Here are a few thoughts to ponder:
- Repent. – when was the last time you truly repented of this particular aspect of our human nature? It doesn’t have to be dramatic, just sincere. Tell Him today that you apologize for being neglectful, that you want to do better, and that you would never intentionally take Him for granted.
- Make a plan. – if it’s not on my calendar (or yours), it probably won’t get done. Schedule just a little time to be with God, to read the Bible, and pray. Then be consistent!!! I am always amazed how my schedule opens up when I intentionally carve out time for God.
- Pick a Bible study and get going. I recently completed a seven-week study of Jude. Oh, how it did my heart good to really focus my energy on this study. My hunger for the Word always comes roaring back if I just start to nibble at it.
- Enlist the help of a friend to keep you accountable. Accountability partners really do work. Not every day will be an “all-star” day but having someone in your corner can definitely help you keep moving in the right direction.
Listen, I am a firm believer that we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. Though we need community and gathering in community is Biblical, so is designated personal devotion to God. I often think of how Paul described training himself for spiritual living. He often used wording that spoke to getting ready to run a race or boxing, in other words, a sport that required concentration on the individual’s part, discipline to work out, and a clear goal in mind. Here are Paul’s words in the Message translation:
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 1 Corinthians 9:27 MSG
This is the attitude we need to maintain when it comes to fighting spiritual slothfulness. I, like Paul, don’t want to miss out on anything God has for me. How about you?
Father God, thank you for disciplining Your children because the Bible states You only discipline those that You love. Lord, continue to show us Your favor and beckon us to You in the way only You can do. May we watch the ants and learn from their diligence. We bind the spirit of laziness and command it to return to the pits of hell. May you find us prepared at Your return. We love You Lord. Amen.
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
Please note all scripture references taken from the NLT or MSG.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The Message. Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson