Sloth (deadly sin)

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This article is about the capital sin. For other uses, see Sloth (disambiguation).
Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, 1624, by Abraham Bloemaert. The "lazy peasants" sleep instead of work, representing the sin of sloth.

Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. It is the most difficult sin to define, and to credit as sin, since it refers to a peculiar jumble of notions, dating from antiquity and including mental, spiritual, pathological, and physical states.[1] One definition that may be given to sloth is habitual disinclination to exertion.[2]

Views concerning the need for one to work to support society and further God's plan and work also suggest that, through inactivity, one invites the desire to sin. "For Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." ("Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts).

In the Philokalia, the word dejection is used instead of sloth, for the person who falls into dejection will lose interest in life. Laziness is considered unbecoming in many traditional customs. The demon Belphegor is often associated with sloth.

It is also one of the five hindrances in Buddhism.

Definition[edit]

The word "sloth" is a translation of the Latin term acedia (Middle English, accidie) and means "without care". Spiritually, acedia first referred to an affliction attending religious persons, especially monks, wherein they became indifferent to their duties and obligations to God. Mentally, acedia, has a number of distinctive components of which the most important is affectlessness, a lack of any feeling about self or other, a mind-state that gives rise to boredom, rancor, apathy, and a passive inert or sluggish mentation, Physically, acedia is fundamentally associated with a cessation of motion and an indifference to work; it finds expression in laziness, idleness, and indolence.[1]

In his Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas defined sloth as "sorrow about spiritual good" and as "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good... [it] is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away entirely from good deeds."

Sloth includes ceasing to utilize the seven gifts of grace given by the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord); such disregard may lead to the slowing of one's spiritual progress towards eternal life, to the neglect of manifold duties of charity towards the neighbor, and to animosity towards those who love God.[3]

Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when "good" people fail to act.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) wrote in Present Discontents (II. 78) "No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Unlike the other capital sins, which are sins of committing immorality, sloth is a sin of omitting responsibilities. It may arise from any of the other capital vices; for example, a son may omit his duty to his father through anger. While the state and habit of sloth is a mortal sin, the habit of the soul tending towards the last mortal state of sloth is not mortal in and of itself except under certain circumstances.[3]

Emotionally and cognitively, the evil of acedia finds expression in a lack of any feeling for the world, for the people in it, or for the self. Acedia takes form as an alienation of the sentient self first from the world and then from itself. Although the most profound versions of this condition are found in a withdrawal from all forms of participation in or care for others or oneself, a lesser but more noisome element was also noted by theologians. From tristitia, asserted Gregory the Great, "there arise malice, rancour, cowardice, [and] despair..." Chaucer, too, dealt with this attribute of acedia, counting the characteristics of the sin to include despair, somnolence, idleness, tardiness, negligence, indolence, and wrawnesse, the last variously translated as "anger" or better as "peevishness". For Chaucer, human's sin consists of languishing and holding back, refusing to undertake works of goodness because, he/she tells him/her self, the circumstances surrounding the establishment of good are too grievous and too difficult to suffer. Acedia in Chaucer's view is thus the enemy of every source and motive for work. [4]

Sloth not only subverts the livelihood of the body, taking no care for its day-to-day provisions, but also slows down the mind,halting its attention to matters of great importance. Sloth hinders the man in his righteous undertakings and thus becomes a terrible source of human's undoing.[4]

Laziness in the Bible[edit]

Although, as defined above, sloth is more akin to apathy and inactivity, many English speakers narrow it to mean simple laziness,(Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 12:27, Proverbs 15:19, Matthew 25:25-30) about which the Bible makes many comments. (Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:11; Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors. Proverbs 26:16; Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes. Proverbs 10:26)

Lazy person falls prey to poverty

Ridiculously indolent[5] and a lover of sleep,[6] the lazy person sees lions all over the street[7] his desires ″kill″ him[8] because ″his hands refuse whatever to labour″,[9] and his path becomes a ″hedge of thorns″...[10] while he is wiser than seven sensible men in his own eyes....[11] His household becomes a real ruin[12] and he falls prey to his ″want″ (scarcity) coming like an armed person and in the end to poverty, coming upon him like a robber.[13] The sluggard (lazy person) will share this fate with the talkative persons, with dreamers that ″watch the wind″ or ″regard the clouds″[14] and with those who ″chase fantasies″ (follow worthless pursuits).[15]

The employed lazy person and the rich lazy person

If, however, this lazy person is the type that, eventually, ″takes his food to mouth″[16] (because there is a type of lazy person who doesn’t even take his food to mouth[17]) and has a job, he is like ″vinegar to the teeth″ and ″smoke to the eyes″ for those who send him with any task.[18] If the sluggard is rich, he should avoid getting that lazy insensitiveness of the chief people of Zion, that delight themselves in every way possible, and whom the prophet Amos predicted they would become slaves.[19]

The lazy person leaves God's gifts unused

The wicked,[20][21] worthless servant,[22] that buries his talent in the ground, instead of investing the money with the banker, i.e. one who disregards God's gift[citation needed], leaving it unused, is also lazy.[21] His talent will be taken from him and will be given to the one who has 10 talents and the worthless servant is thrown into the darkness of hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.[23] (See the parable of the talents.)[24]

The lazy person breaks again the commandments of God

Whoever is lazy (slack) in his work becomes brother to one who destroys[25] (meaning The Evil-One, the devil because the devil is murderer[26]) for the second time[27] He breaks again the command of God, Who sent him to work this time, for not obeying God, Who forbids them to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[28]

The growth of the virtues is the enemy of laziness

The Christian must not become sluggish (lazy), but be a zealous follower of those who ″inherit the promises″[29] because the growth of the virtues makes the laziness go away.[30]

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lyman, Stanford. The Seven Deadly Sins: Society and Evil. p. 5. ISBN 0-930390-81-4. 
  2. ^ "the definition of sloth". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  3. ^ a b Manning, Henry Edward. Sin and Its consequences. 
  4. ^ a b Lyman, Stanford. The Seven Deadly Sins: Society and Evil. pp. 6–7. 
  5. ^ Proverbs 19.24, 26.15, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2019.24,%2026.15&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  6. ^ Proverbs6.9-11,19.15,26.14, 24.33-34, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs6.9-11,19.15,26.14,%2024.33-34&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  7. ^ Proverbs22.13, 26.13, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs22.13,%2026.13&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  8. ^ Proverbs21.25-26, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs21.25-26&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  9. ^ Proverbs21.25-26,1 Thessalonians 4.11, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs21.25-26,1%20Thessalonians%204.11&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  10. ^ Proverbs15.19, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs15.19&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  11. ^ Proverbs26.16, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs26.16&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  12. ^ Ecclesiastes10.18, Proverbs24.30-32, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes10.18,%20Proverbs24.30-32&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  13. ^ Proverbs6.9-11, 10.4, 13.4,19.15,12.24, 20.4, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs6.9-11,%2010.4,%2013.4,19.15,12.24,%2020.4&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  14. ^ Ecclesiastes 11.4, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eccl%2011.4&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  15. ^ Proverbs 28.19, 12.11, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs28.19,%2012.11&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  16. ^ Proverbs26.15, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs26.15&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  17. ^ Proverbs19.24, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs19.24&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  18. ^ Proverbs10.26, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs10.26&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  19. ^ Amos 6.1-7, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Amos%206.1-7&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  20. ^ Luke19.22, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke19.22&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  21. ^ a b "Matthew25.26 ESV;NIVUK;ASV - But his master answered him, 'You - Bible Gateway". 
  22. ^ Matthew25.30, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew25.30&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  23. ^ Matthew25.14-30. Luke19.11-27, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew25.28-30,%20Luke19.26-27&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  24. ^ Matthew25.13-30, Luke19.11-27, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew25.13-30,%20Luke19.11-27&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  25. ^ Proverbs18.9, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbe%2018.9&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  26. ^ John 8.44, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%208.44&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  27. ^ Proverbs18.9, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  28. ^ Genesis, chapter 3, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203.%2017-19&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  29. ^ Hebrews 6.11-12, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%206.11-12&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV
  30. ^ 2Peter1.5-9, Bible, English Standard Version Revised, 1971, Biblegateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2Peter1.5-9&version=ESV;NIVUK;ASV

External links[edit]