By:            Bro. James Orhosere

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Definition – Slothfulness is coined from the word sloth, a slow moving, tree dwelling mammal found in central and South America. It is said that its greatest speed seldom exceeds three yards an hour.

Today the animal’s name has probably morphed into human application to mean “a lazy person” or laziness.

Slothfulness therefore implies the indulgence of sloth, inactivity, habit of idleness or laziness.

What does the bible teach about slothful living? From the very beginning we see God working, all through the bible we see references to the “work of God”.

The opening chapters of the bible include the dramatic work of God in creation. God serves as the great example of what it means to be a worker; Adam was created by God and commissioned on a worker (Gen. 2:15). This order was prior to fall of Adam and Eve into sin and therefore cannot be attributed to the curse. Work was God’s intention from the beginning. Therefore, any ongoing pattern of laziness and slothful behavior is against God’s original design.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus coming to do the will of the Father. He came to work the “works of God” and accomplish the redemptive plan of God (Matt. 1:12; John 6:38). The second person of the God’s head is depicted in the New Testament as a worker.

As we survey the New Testament, we see Paul warning the church at Thessalonica against slothfulness (2 Thess. 3:6-15). According to Paul, he and others had provided satisfactory examples to the church in their work. Paul made two specific statements that must be taken to heart. First, he said “if anyone is not willing to work let him not eat. (1 Thess. 3:10). He went on to charge the church to confront those people in the church who were unwilling to work (2 Thess. 3:14-15). It was so serious to Paul that he counseled the church to refuse to spend time with people who refused to work. Their slothful attitudes and manner of living posed a threat to the entire church. A man who refused to work cannot be trusted with the souls of a wife and children.

When a person in the church refuses to work, they become an unnecessary burden to the church and bring reproach upon the name of Christianity. How can a sluggard point person to Christ when they live a slothful individuals. They refused to see that their lifestyle hinders their ability to point people of God. According to the word of God, such a man is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8).

The Christian has a responsibility to follow after good examples and to be busy in faithful work in other to care for himself and his family. This is the responsibility of every man especially the man who goes in the name of Christ. In his commentary on the book of First Samuel, Matthew Henry said “the devil visits idle men with his temptation, God visits His own with favors”.

Paul advised Timothy not to put younger woman on a list of widows who receives support from the church. Rather, they should remarry. It is obvious by his comments that he had seen the results of idle women harming the church because they have too much time on their hands (1 Tim. 5:5, 11, 13).

What are the symptoms of Slothfulness?

God knows our hearts, and He warns us to guard them with diligence. “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). We should be alert to signs of slothfulness and reject the temptations to put forth anything less than our best efforts (Col. 3:23-24)

Typically, the following characteristics are trademarks of a slothful person;

  1. Making soft choices

Slothfulness develops gradually on a person makes ‘little’ decisions with the goal of maintaining comfort and taking easy part. A sluggard’s choice may include decisions to stay in bed a little longer or spend time in idle chatter. A slothful person may procrastinate or refuse to work in adverse conditions. These actions may seem harmless initially, but soon they can set the standard for a way of life (Prov. 6:10-11, 19:15, 26:14).

  1. Disregarding time and seasons

The sluggard is not a self-starter. To him one day is as good as another. The sluggard does not understand the value of time or the meaning of seasons. His basic philosophy is to live for the moment and let the future take its own. The slothful person does not consider that he must one day give account to God for the way he has used his time. (Prov. 12:24, 20:4).

Learning task unfinished – a slothful person is lethargic in everything he does. Every job becomes a mountain in his path instead of a door of opportunity. If he is visited by success, he does not recognize or value it. Thus, he allows opportunity to slip by and permits half-completed jobs to spoil without good reasons. Even the maintenance of what he possesses becomes a burden. (Prov. 24:30-31, 12:27, Eccl. 10:18).

  1. Limiting activities by self-induced fears

Sometimes slothfulness is the result of irrational fears; and if left unchecked it will generate more irrational fears. As an escape from his fears, a slothful person sleeps (Prov. 26:13-14, Matt. 25:25-26, Prov. 22:13).

  1. Living in a world of wishful thinking

When the sluggard is not sleeping, he thinks about things he wants to do and the things he wants to get. However, he never takes actions to make his hope a reality. The tension between his restless mind and his inactive body produces destructive frustrations. (Prov. 21:25-26, 19:24).

  1. Deny slothfulness

Slothful behavior is often completely rationalized in the mind of the sluggard. He declares he would work if only there were fewer obstacles in his part because he has convinced himself that he is merely waiting for more favourable working conditions, he stubbornly denies accusation of laziness. (Prov. 26:16).

Consequences of slothfulness

  1. Poverty, Lack and inability to take care of oneself and the family ( 13:4). If we want to eat good food and live in a decent home with comfortable clothing, then we can’t afford to be lazy. (Prov. 10:4-5)
  2. Laziness can cause us to lose our jobs – laziness is a trait that no employer or boss would like to have 10:26 perfectly explains this “Lazy people irritates their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes”.
  3. A false sense of entitlement and always looking up to others for rescue. A slothful person is always looking up to and expecting favors from others as of debtors.
  4. One who is idle and lazy is a hindrance to the gospel because such a one cannot support the gospel neither can he or she help the weak, elderly and widows.
  5. It is potential for sin as the adage says “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. Idleness leads to temptation.
  6. An idle and lazy person will invariably become a gossip, tale-bear and busy body in affairs that do not concern them. An idle person can also easily fall into the sinful traits of envying the prosperity of the diligent and hardworking neighbors (1 Tim. 5:13).

The cure for slothfulness

How can a sluggish believer find a way to a new and a more productive lifestyle? The immediate answer is in Prov. 6:6. The ant plans, work and makes provision for future. The ant illustrates basic characteristics that are lacking in the lives of those that are slothful – initiative, self-direction, respect for seasons, the ability to finish job and fore-sight needed to plan for the future.


Some people go about the work with energy and joy, giving their best efforts to every detail. Others do as little as they can, as slowly as they can and as indifferently as they can. What about you? Do you work with intensity or indifference or somewhere in between?

God wants us to express our uniqueness and creativity to glorify Him through all that we accomplish.

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