Is It the Season of Sloth??
Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian
Football couches are here. Banqueting and napping is here. Is any of this considered sloth, one of the seven deadly sins? Sloth is more than laziness. The etymological and philosophical streams behind it are two – apathy and lament. Indifference on the one hand and moaning about effort on the other. It’s being bored about God and good and it’s being unwilling to sustain effort regarding either one.
Chaim Potok, in one of his novels, has a baseball game where the main character is pitching. The baseball is hit with line-drive force right at his head. He gets walloped and goes down. Later, he analyzes and knows that he had a nano second that he could have moved. But he didn’t care to, he didn’t want to, he chose not to. There is sloth in that – the didn’t care to, didn’t want to, didn’t chose to. Particularly that applied to God, the life of love, the spiritual life. Even if there are dire consequence.
Most typically, with sloth, we are talking about this happening mid-game. The company executive sat with executives from other companies at a lunch. One said he was retiring in a month. The executive I have in mind replied, “I retired five years ago; I just haven’t told the board yet.” That’s sloth, that attitude applied to the efforts of the spiritual life and the duties of love, a comfortableness with being stalled or mediocre.
The author of Hebrews picks up words like stall and dull when he addresses his audience. You’re stalled, dull, he says. You should be teaching but you still need to be taught, eating meat but requiring milk. The Christian life, and all meaningful life, is a life that involves applying oneself, of moving, of growing. Peter O’Brian, a commentator, writes that the sloth is ‘quitting and then resisting the impulses to start.’ Don’t resist the impulse from this little message. No matter your age, press on to the full, spiritual and loving life. Happy holidays.
Pastor Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian, 1405 Louisiana Ave, Sebastian FL 32958 772-589-5656