The Nature of Sloth

I was reading a review of Josef Pieper’s Faith, Hope, Love on Amazon when the commentor (Lawrence J. King) said something that struck a deep nerve and sent a shudder through my being (I am not joking). He said:

I used to think of “slothful” as synonymous with “laziness” — but this book made me realize what a huge difference there was. You could work hard every day, but if deep inside you know you could do great things, and you simply don’t bother to do them, then you are guilty of sloth. Many Christians (and non-Christians) that I know, including myself, will recognize this as a part of their lives. 

I guess you could say I recognized myself that revelation. Yes I work hard. I have always worked hard, but…there are great things I should be doing. God has gifted me and I feel like I have squandered much of the gift. No, I didn’t bury my gifts in the back yard, like the failed servant in the parable of the talents. But I have done so little with them and now I feel so…slothful.

I could aruge that I tried–I have, so many times, to use my gifts for God’s Kingdom, to show myself approved. But trying is not enough, no matter how many times you get knocked down or fail in your efforts. I will never forget that line from the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke is failing in his efforts to raise his ship from the swamp. Yoda goads him on and Luke argues that he is trying and Yoda says, “No try. Do!”  Or as Nike likes to say, “Just do it!” (I sometimes wonder if they got their idea from that line.)

It doesn’t matter that I got rejected, or they didn’t like it, or no one responded, or any of another thousand reasons for failing. Once the hand is to the plow you can never take your eye off of the prize, the goal, the calling. God doesn’t change his mind–the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29)–so we can’t give up while we still have any chance to use those gifts to exercise that calling.

I guess I need to get back to work on my Knowing God Study Guide Teacher/Self-Study Edition. Remember me in your prayers.

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