Ten years ago I knew no such thing as Facebook. There was no instagram, no hourly news cycle. Wouldn’t you think life was more purposeful back then; when we didn’t have all these distractions?
Not exactly. Not for me, anyways.
Ten years ago I was heavily into freezer cooking. Riveting stuff, eh? I belonged to a silly online Yahoo Group where women (mostly) would share daily accomplishments in their kitchen, monthly cooking plans, and tips for such things. During those days, I loved to check my email and learn all I could about these new-to-me methods. I am sure my mom thought I lost my mind as I prattled on during our weekly visits about freezers and the latest trick I learned for freezing potatoes, etc.
More times than I care to admit, I would shoo my people (my kids) away so I could enjoy a few more minutes of escape learning about this new and helpful hobby.
Yes, I sure did have distractions, and I am sure I justified them. It was something I saw as helpful, and in the proper context, it was. But wherever I began to use it as an escape from what God called me to be doing, I must admit I was abusing it.
Now back to 2016 where there are even more always-on distractions which call us away from our people and God’s purposes for us. Are smart phones and devices to blame for our struggles to stay focused today? Many can and should be used as tools for glorifying God. I can’t personally say these tools have increased my focus as much as they have scattered it. For me it is more challenging than ever to be disciplined and focused. But then I’ve already proven myself to be distractable.
How about you? If left unchecked, do distractions consume too much of your time? At the end of a day, does your distraction of choice enable you to be straight-up lazy?
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverbs 13:4
Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence [wanting to avoid activity or exertion] the house leaks. Ecclesiastes 10:18
When we think of slothfulness, we may only think of laziness. But slothfulness is rooted in a desire. It craves. It has ambition. It does aspire to things, it just wants to get those things the easy way. It doesn’t want to exert itself. Or perhaps it will exert itself, but only in the ways that are most convenient and easiest–at the expense of gaining something valuable through difficulty. The soul of the sluggard craves, but gets nothing.
In contrast, the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Killjoys points out that while a person who avoids work is guilty of slothfulness, the workaholic is also guilty of being slothful. Here is an explanation given by the author* of Ch 5:
The workaholic who works himself ragged to prove himself superior to his neighbor, or to have more stuff than his neighbor, is playing the sloth just as much as the man who [wastes]… his life on an Xbox….The sluggard and the workaholic both express self-centeredness. They both live out a desire to control their own lives. Neither lives to love. Neither lives to worship.
A slothful person may a busy woman, but it has to do with HOW she uses her time. Busy slothfulness does not live to love. It does not live to worship God and serve others. A slothful heart craves control and comfort. It dreads being deterred, interrupted or asked to go out of its way to serve another. The life pursuit of a slothful heart becomes “personal happiness”, yet that happiness is just out of reach. That is because true happiness and joy are found in Christ, not in a safe, comfortable and controlled life we fashion for ourselves.
So if we recognize a comfort-seeking, distraction-hungry root taking hold in our hearts, what are we to do?
“Sloth at its core is a lack of appetite for God’s gifts. Sloth is a blindness and deadness to God’s beauty.”
Slothfulness is a lazy love. In order to wake up to God’s gifts, the author says we must first trust and hope in an unseen Savior, his resurrection from the dead, and his future return. Christians should then live lives fueled by this knowledge. This creates an appetite for the things of God
In light of this awareness, we can be diligent in our daily routines, working unto God and not unto men; investing our love and service into our people and the purposes God has for our lives; and then continually seek out ways to be wide awake to our awesome God!
In Christ’s love,
*Killjoys; Chapter 5, Sloth, written by Tony Reinke