Sloth Doesn’t Just Mean Sleep

When I think of a sluggard or a slothful person I typically picture a scraggly-bearded dude passed out on the couch in his mustard stained sleeveless with remote in hand. I’m not alone in this either. Do an image search for sluggard and you are going to find a similar image. Even good ol’ Ben Franklin had the sluggard sleeping as well when he said, “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough.”

But the truth is that a sluggard doesn’t have to be a sleeper. While the Bible has sleep as the favorite past-time of the sluggard it also paints a broader picture. The sluggard is really the one who is doing something other than what ought to be done in that moment to the glory of God.

When we think of the sluggard in our day and age we often think of the young man who is nearing his thirties, without a job, without prospect of marriage, but firmly implanted on the Call of Duty leader board. But he’s not a sluggard because he is playing video games. He’s a sluggard because he is playing video games when he should be doing something else at that moment.

You see the heart of the sluggard is that he is trying to find rest the wrong way. That’s why you can replace “sleep” with any event…even Bible Study. If I should be mowing my yard but I let it grow up into a jungle because I’m too busy with studying my Bible then I’m not being spiritual I’m being a sluggard. That’s not to say there might not be some seasons which call for high grass and long hours in the Scriptures. But certain seasons call for certain actions and if I avoid the proper one and replace it with something more pleasurable then I’m being a sluggard. I’m trying to find rest in a thing instead of in what God desires for me in a particular moment.

God says, “At this moment you are called to ______.” The sluggard says, “I’d much rather _______, and here are the very wise and logical reasons why.” The sluggard who says “there is a lion in the street” is very good at making excuses for why he isn’t doing the one thing necessary in the moment.

I was really convicted as I studied this in Proverbs. I don’t like to think of myself as a sluggard but I must confess that I have some sluggardly ways about me. It’s so easy for me to do the thing that is most pleasurable and procrastinate on the thing that I really do not want to do. It’s so easy to say to myself that I’m obviously not a sluggard because I barely get eight hours of sleeps. But, when I realized that the sluggard in Scripture is less about snoozing and more about avoiding the difficult things, my heart must is convicted.

The answer to the sluggard’s heart is the gospel of Jesus. When I realize that my rest is already established and founded in Christ it strikes a blow to the inordinate desires of my sluggard heart. I realize that satisfaction won’t be found in a little more sleep or slumber but it’ll be found in Christ. He gives me everything I need for every moment to do the things that are necessary at that time.

So, sloth doesn’t just mean sleep. That’s convicting but I’m thankful for the redemption Christ brings in this area.


  1. Mike, I am a Christian and a retired Air Force officer (30 years) and businessman (12 years). After working very hard for 42 years I took early retirement (age 63) with the idea of devoting the same amount of energy to “The Lords Work” in the last 1/3 of my life as I did in the previous 42. My vision was disappointing. Frankly, other than seminary studies (using my GI Bill) and teaching Sunday school most of my energy has been spent in time with my wife and travel, (who sacrificed much during my career as I traveled for the Air Force and my company). I struggle with being slothful. I have developed an outline for a book I might call “A Theology of Sloth – life for Christian men in retirement”. Included in my outline is developing a balance between the concept of “sabbaticals” vs. “sloth”. For example, if I am “resting” for a year or so in the fruits of my labor and in spending lost time with my wife is that “slothful” or, taking a well earned “sabbatical”? You might want to consider folding the concept of “sabbatical” into you article regarding “slothfulness”. I enjoyed the read. May God bless you in your endeavors.

Comments are closed.