I’m a hard worker. I think most people who know me will agree with this. And yet, I can remember talking with a friend, a preacher’s wife, who explained her clean and tidy home by saying, “I’m never idle.” I’m often idle — as often as possible, really. If I have a chance to read and knit or chat with my family or friends, I’ll take it. As long as the day’s work is done.
I know I should do more housework, I should get to the gym more often, and I want to fit more projects into my life, but lolling about seems important, too, for quality of life. God rested, we’re told in Genesis, and told us to do the same.
But sloth is not just about laziness. The word “acedia” can be translated as “indifference” or “neglect.” It’s about apathy, sloppiness, failing to do the good things we know we should do, not caring about the things we should care about, and not doing our best. We are supposed to work in ways that glorify God, doing our work “as unto the Lord.” How many of us just sit at our desks and push papers around instead?
Spiritual slothfulness can even manifest itself as workaholism or a “work hard. play hard” attitude, when busy-ness is used to avoid reflection and spiritual growth.
We may even use our work to avoid other responsibilities in our lives. I work hard at my job, so it’s okay for me to loll around around weekends instead of doing all the other things I should do, right? Caring for my home, my health, my community, and my family are things I can do when I happen to have time — but it’s easier to work at my job and then rest than to make the effort to determine what I really should be doing.
I’m not lazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the sin of sloth.