Read: Matthew 25:14-18 |
The French author Jules Renard once wrote, “Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.” The Bible also has much to say about laziness and sloth. Proverbs is ripe with references which elicit the reader to blossom into the action of an ant versus withdraw like a sluggard.
In our study today, we focus on the third servant in the parable. This servant, like the others, was awarded talent commensurate with his ability – one talent! In prior verses, the other two servants doubled the gifts they received from the Master. With the third servant, we find the “potential” of his ability did not match the “product” of his actions.
The choice of “inaction” is an active choice of Unfaithfulness
The third servant’s decisions are not in line with the expectations and the potential of his ability, which makes him an “unfaithful” servant. The servant’s sin could be categorized as a general “sin of omission” – the failure to do something one can and should do. He chose not to apply his talents and knowledge to meet the Master’s expectations. Hence, he knew what to do and was just as able to use his abilities as the other two servants. But he did nada, nuthin’!
Within his sin of omission, the specific sin he committed was the sin of sloth. Strong’s and NAS Exhaustive Concordance define sloth as backward, hesitating, irksome, timid, lazy and troublesome. Clearly this servant exhibited these traits because he made no effort to invest his gift. In fact, in verse 26 the master in the parable even labels his behavior as “lazy / slothful”.
As we survey our behavior, sloth may be the reason so many believers in the Lord Jesus continue to live their lives as babes in Christ. Sloth causes little prayer; little prayer causes little grace; little grace causes little brightness.
Surrendering Slothfulness to the Savior
The ant illustrates basic characteristics that are lacking in the lives of those who are slothful:
- Respect for seasons (Recognize God’s timing)
- The ability to finish jobs
- Foresight (Plan for the future)
Like the third servant, so many of us are challenged to overcome the comfort of slothfulness embedded within our lives. Sloth is at its heart the refusal to respond to the Savior and to the opportunities for growth, service, or sacrifice that He puts in our lives. Instead of responding, sloth uses activities—useful or useless—to avoid God and those opportunities. [You’re Probably More Slothful Than You Realize, James Tonkowich]
Our challenge then is to recognize the gradual development of slothfulness in our lives. If left unchecked, we may surrender to its appeal by emulating the inactivity of the third servant.
- Initial Slothfulness: Making soft choices in daily decisions ex. Let someone else volunteer, not me
- Latent Slothfulness: Underlying tendency to reject God’s requirement for diligent labor
- Disabling Slothfulness: When taking the easy route become a way of life
We can counter slothfulness by obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit and acting on His will. In the New Testament, Romans 12:11 (KJV) warns against sloth: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” The clear message to all Believers is “Be ye not slothful!”
Heaven does not have any slothful citizens, for everyone in Heaven joyfully employs their energy day by day to praise the Lord God our Savior and Redeemer. Why not practice what we will be doing for eternity while we still have time to invite others to enjoy His presence with us in Heaven?
1. Discover –
A. Do you consider yourself or any part of your life as slothful?
B. How much time do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, etc. versus time spent reading the Bible or looking at devotionals? How can you develop the habit to check in with God more often than you check your social media?
2. Develop –
A. Slothfulness can also be activity on the wrong things or even without conviction. How can you ensure that you are working on the things God is leading you to do versus filling your life with tasks?
B. How can you overcome tendencies for “Initial, Latent or Disabling” slothfulness as noted above? What has worked for you to overcome these tendencies?
3. Demonstrate –
A. What areas of slothfulness have you eliminated from your life? How did you do it?