“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The following material is from Pastor Matthew’s sermon entitled, “Sloth,” part of the series called “The Seven Deadly Sins,” the weekend of October 3, 2010 at Bethel Church:
Sloth is the crisis of taking sacred responsibilities and opportunities and replacing them with the passionate pursuit of utterly meaningless and trivial things, often to the detriment of relationships and personal dignity. It is not laziness, as laziness has to do with not expending energy. With sloth energy is expended, just toward those things that are petty and base.
Sloth gets the best of us when weariness grips our souls and we become desperate for inner-rest; seeking out that opportunity that requires little or nothing from us, but allows us to get a lot in return. Thus, we begin to invest ourselves into things that we think we not take from us but only give back. Furthermore, sloth gets the best of us when we become desensitized to that unique, God-given calling we have as individuals. When we dismiss that then it is easy for us to engage meaningless opportunities. This was the problem with the two priests at whom we looked in 1 Samuel 2:12 and following.
To remedy this a handful of things are recommended. First, we should reevaluate the nature of our unique, God-give calling in life. Some of us are dads or grandmothers or coaches or employers, etc. We need to understand who we are and enter into that with gusto; with a renewed sense of purpose that refuses to tolerate being controlled by meaningless pursuits.
Secondly, we ought to evaluate whether meaningless things control or own us. Football, for instance, is a great diversion, something to really enjoy. But if it controls us to the detriment of things of a greater eternal value then we should step back and appropriate good accountability so it no longer defines us. Perhaps a sabbatical from social-network websites or television or whatever else might control us would be appropriate.
Thirdly, if we are short on meaningful opportunities then we should embark on a journey to find real, eternally-valuable opportunities in which to invest ourselves. Our communities (and world) are full of such things: tutoring at school, working at the soup kitchen, serving at the AIDS hospice, mentoring a group of teenage boys, et cetera.
Lastly, if “sloth” really defines us then we should repent of this sin. We should confess to God that we have given our best to meaningless pursuits, ask for His forgiveness, and trust that by His grace we can rise to a better place of maturity and wisdom. Also, if there are relationships that have been wounded by our slothfulness, then we should seek to make those right.
I wonder if one of the reasons sloth is prevalent today is because we don’t know how to rest?
In your sermon and here, you said, “Sloth gets the best of us when weariness grips our souls and we become desperate for inner-rest.”
That makes a lot of sense to me, and I am beginning to recognize the times in my life that I fall into sloth because of that kind of weariness. It’s rather disturbingly often. I don’t think it’s just me, either—I sometimes wonder if a huge chunk of our culture is on the brink of burn-out.
My question, then, is how do we rest well to avoid that kind of weariness?
I find frustratingly few ways that I can rest in a way that actually feel reinvigorating or recharging or even just plain relaxing. Many of the “relaxing” things I do end up being just another project at best (“I need to read this next email from a friend *now*” or “this fixing project suddenly swallowed my whole weekend”) or sloth at worst (“feed me, Internet”).
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Do you or others have suggestions as to what things are truly restful?
P.S. For the record, I have found a few things: A good novel. Slowly learning guitar without deadlines or pressure to perform. A quiet walk outside. Camping. But I’m sure others have some other good ideas!