19 February 2014

I noticed that one of the so-called “seven deadly sins” included “sloth”. It’s not a term used commonly today but to be slothful can mean something along the following lines:

“spiritual or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken, and being physically and emotionally inactive. It can also be either an outright refusal or merely a carelessness in the performance of one’s obligations, especially spiritual, moral or legal obligations. Sloth can also indicate a wasting due to lack of use, concerning a person, place, thing, skill, or intangible ideal that would require maintenance, refinement, or support to continue to exist.”

Jesus even implied that being slothful or lazy with the talent God has given us could be wicked if we did not put to good use such talent. In the parable of the ten talents, different number of talents were distributed to three servants. Two of them put the talents given to them into use and received a return, but one of them hid the talent underground and did nothing with it. When the master returned and found out that the servant did not do anything with the talent, he ordered it to be taken away from him and given to the other servants – but what was worse was that the “lazy” servant was also thrown out into outer darkness.

To me, this has always been a harsh parable that I found difficult to accept. After all, the servant had not lost the talent or mis-used it. But I think this parable was particular speaking to Christians because we have a responsibility to be active in our faith and not just to seek to “protect” our faith by living holy lives. Each and every Christian has a talent given by God. Whether it is big or small, whether money or skills, God has at the very least entrusted a talent.

Although it would be good to recognize what particular talent God has entrusted us with, it may not always be possible to know with accuracy what such talent looks like. Perhaps instead, if we are unable to identify the talent we have been entrusted with, we at least need to believe that every good thing we have been given is a talent which is to be used in some way or form to bring about a harvest in God’s kingdom.

But simply doing “something” may not actually avoid being slothful – since sloth can also be spiritual or emotional apathy or carelessness in performing an obligation. I recognize this in my life and I believe it is good to ask for help in this area too.

As Romans 12:6-8 put it well:

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

Father God, sometimes I admit I am slothful in my ways. There are ups and downs, good days and bad days, but I am reminded by your Word to keep striving in zeal to put to use the talents You have given me. Help me to fan into flame the gifts I have been given and teach me to use them well with all my heart. Thank you Lord.


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