The Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth

We’ve left the sins which Dorothy Sayers calls “Loves Excessive”, and we come to Pride which alone occupies the category of “Love Defective. Sloth is, according to Sayers, a failure to love any object in its proper measure and particularly to fail to love God with all one has and is.

Sloth goes beyond mere laziness, for sloth is motivated by a fear of a lack of peace or comfort, and manifests itself in a refusal to be troubled. So, Sloth may keep you from diligence and thrift, it may also work a neglect of those things which you value such as your children and avocations. So, one who fails to love those things which he ought love: children, spouse, neighbor, God, is a person given over to Sloth. I should add, that it is my belief that Sloth also may manifest itself in a workaholism which seeks to secure its peace and comfort by being driven along in circumstance or by giving choice over to a “to do” list for fear of failure or scorn. If one avoids the failure to love good things in their proper proportions, they will at some point be forced to choose a better thing over a good thing and in that choice will make others uncomfortable–so much so, that they would seek to make you uncomfortable as well.

Another variation of Sloth is a despair and cynicism which keeps one from entering into Joy. Dorothy Sayers in her book, The Whimsical Christian writes,

“In the world sloth calls itself tolerance; but in hell it is called despair. It is the accomplice of every other sin and their worst punishment. It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far to well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that is a mortal sin.”

What hits me the hardest the line that Sloth “remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for,” that sounds hellish, indeed. In this respect, Sloth is the absence of Zeal. Though there is what the Scriptures call a “zeal without knowledge” and there are many zealots who in their passion become extremist, it is false to play the end against the middle. It is not bad to be zealous. In fact, if we apprehended the Joy of the Kingdom, we would be unalterably committed to experience it and make it known.

Lastly, we must remember that the comforted are not those who avoid trouble or inconvenience or labor, but the comforted are those who morn. Your avoidance of relational, physical, or emotional pain will not lead to your comfort–the best you could hope for would be the absence of discomfort. Rather, Jesus assures us, that if, as his disciples, we lean with zeal into loving the Lord our God will our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves, and though we may die trying, the comfort for which we long–the peace which will satisfy, will manifest itself in the Joy and comfort of God who comforts us through the discomfort Christ endured for love of us.

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