Pity the poor sloth. An animal so unhurried that it was named for one of the seven deadly sins. Sloths, as we all know, are very slow-moving animals. Their bodies are made to conserve energy, and they spend most of their time hanging upside down and sleeping. As a result, they are seen as being lazy when it actually helps them to avoid predators and stay safe. Nonetheless, they are stuck with a rather negative label.
The Bible speaks of sloth, an activity or rather inactivity which is sinful. We often equate slothfulness with laziness in our work. The book of Proverbs doesn’t present the sluggard in a positive way but encourages us to be diligent in our work and thoughtful about what we are doing.
As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on his bed.
A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven people who answer discreetly. Proverbs 26:14-16
No one should desire to be a sluggard. But there is more to sloth than just laziness in our work. Our spirituality can also suffer from a lack of attention. Ligonier Ministries defines biblical sloth as, “laziness that comes from carelessness about the commands and priorities of God, a lack of love for God and His ways.”
Paul tells us in Romans 12:11 to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Guarding against spiritual complacency is essential. Many people would be horrified to think others see them as lazy or slothful but in their spiritual life, they have let things go. We don’t need to strive to impress God with hours of prayer or Bible study every day. But we do need to consider if we are keeping our spiritual fervor alive and healthy.