A couple of months ago, my pastor gave a sermon on sloth. That’s right, sloth. Weird, right? We don’t normally talk about the sin of sloth a lot, and if we do, we tend to think of it as laziness. When I hear “sloth” my mind automatically goes to Proverbs 6, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise … a little sleep a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.” That lazy, slothful sluggard. (I also think of Kristen Bell and her sloth experience.)
But my pastor said sloth is much more than simple laziness as we tend to think of it. In fact, he defined it much more in conjunction with relationship. Sloth, he said, is when we are unwilling to do the work that deep relationships require. When we’re slothful, we escape or we neglect. We’re afraid of the things that might be difficult, so we run away and avoid them. We are spiritually, emotionally and relationally apathetic.
This definition of sloth hit home for me because I’ve seen it in my life and in the lives of those around me. Let’s take dating and marraige as an example. When I think of my grandparents, or even my parents, their road to marriage looked so much different than today. They met, liked each other and decided to get married. They knew it would be work, but that was fine. Today many people date for a long time, and then fret and fuss about “the one.” Sometimes things get difficult, and if it’s too hard, people give up. Sometimes we can tend to look for fulfillment and strong emotion in marriage instead of commitment and provision. If a relationship requires work, it must be bad, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe we give in to sloth too easily.
This also relates to family. I can think of a family situation in my life right now that seems difficult. I know there is someone who I should reach out to, but the thought of it makes me tired; the emotion I would spend would require effort and work. So I don’t do it. I neglect it. I have become slothful.
My pastor reminded us that sloth so easily creeps into our interactions with others. But, he said, relationships are work, and we should expect them to be. Love is not efficient. Whether it’s the Lord, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend or family members, it takes effort and commitment to have a strong relationship. But when we’re slothful in relationships, we’re not willing to put in the effort that is required to live at peace, to serve one another.
It’s convicting, but it’s good. To have healthy interactions, to love one another well, we’re going to have to put in some effort. Love is not a stream-lined, quick and easy process. It can be tough. But I also think that it is so worth it.
Where have you noticed slothfulness in your relationships?