PRAYER MEETING - JULY 31, 1997 - AUGUST 7, 1997
Talks By Ed Tarkowski


We said that one of the underlying factors of gluttony is that the glutton just wants to have fun, and he seeks to do that in excess. When he isn't indulging himself, he gets drowsy when it comes to responsibilities. How many times, for instance, have we told our kids to do something and we hear, "Mom, I'm too tired!" and 10 minutes later they are outside running around. Or, how often have we heard Mom say, "Don't be so lazy." Why do we hear these things? Because, kids just want to have fun.

Slothfulness - The condition of not liking to work or being active; laziness.

Holman's Bible Dictionary:

SLOTHFUL A loose, undisciplined person. The Hebrew term can refer to a bow not strung or equipped with an arrow for action (Ps. 78:57; Hos. 7:16). A same or related Hebrew root describes a loose tongue or mind as deceitful (Job 13:7; 27:4; Pss. 32:2; 52:4; Mic. 6:12). The slothful person cannot lead but becomes subjected to another's rule (Prov. 12:24; compare 10:4; 19:15). God's work must not be done in such a spirit (Jer. 48:10). See Ethics. A second Hebrew term refers to that which is difficult, heavy, hindered and indicates foolish laziness or sluggishness. The tribe of Dan was encouraged to take the new territory and not be slothful or reluctant (Judg. 18:9). The wise, hardworking ant illustrates the opposite of sloth (Prov. 6:6), while the slothful wants only to sleep (Prov. 6:9; compare 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:16). The virtuous woman is the opposite of slothful, not having to live with the results of idle sloth (Prov. 31:27). Ecclesiastes apparently coined a word for slothfulness twice over and the resulting decay of present gain (10:18). Jesus condemned a wicked, slothful servant (Matt. 25:26) but praised and rewarded the "good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23).

This description of a sloth says such a person is loose, meaning a waywardness with a view to doing what he wants, since slothfulness is tied to gluttony. Apparently he can be a gossip, having a loose tongue and can't trusted to be told anything in confidence. Holman says he is also deceitful, using lies and deceit in order to get what he wants and to enable him to do only what he wants to do. He appears to be a follower, subjecting himself to other people's rule because he doesn't really think for himself.

Strong's says,

SLOTHFUL - 6101. 'atsal, aw-tsal'; a prim. root; to lean idly, i.e. to be indolent [lazy] or slack:--be slothful.

The meaning here is "to lean idly," and I get the impression of Hee-Haw hillbillies. If any of you have seen Hee-Haw, the slothful hillbillies would be laying around chewing on straws, or leaning against posts along with their dawgs. They could care less what was happening, not even wanting to talk. As they talked to each other, it was like listening in slow motion as the words struggled to come out of their mouth. The building some of them leaned on could fall down and they could care less. Nothing in the world really seemed important to them or bothered them.

The Ant - An Encouragement To The Sluggard

Concerning the ant, Scripture says this, using the word "sluggard," which comes from the same Hebrew word meaning slothful:

Prov 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

Poverty - we will see that this word ties to envy, jealousy, lust, self-preservation at the cost of others. Poverty inflames all of these, but it is slothfulness that creates the poverty to start the process:

(Prov 23:21 KJV) "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."

Where you see slothfulness, you most likely will see these things follow, as in gluttony. When called to account for the lack created by his slothfulness, the sluggard suffers from a sudden case of vagueness or outright excuses, lies and deceptions.

Slothfulness - Just Plain Laziness

The following scriptures show that slothfulness is pretty self-explanatory. A sloth is just plain lazy, and just does not want to be responsible for anything. He just wants to have fun, and avoiding responsibilities is part of his lifestyle. When things go wrong because he ignores responsibility, he will often save face by placing the blame for any problems on others. Responsibilities are subtly or blatantly passed on to others, adding extra burdens to their own responsibilities. In some cases, it is a matter of doing the sloths responsibilities or perish. We will see the truth of this in some of the scriptures that follow.

The Sloth - The Hungry Sleeper

Things usually catch up with the sloth, as described in this Proverb:

(Prov 19:15 KJV) "Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger."

"Casteth" means fall, asleep. Slothfulness causes one to fall into a deep sleep. Spiritual slothfulness is even worse than temporal slothfulness. In Ephesians, Paul said,

Eph 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

This Proverbs says, "an idle soul shall suffer hunger." When I read that, I believe it told me the meaning to this one:

(Prov 19:24 KJV) "A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again."

Why? Why would a sloth not so much as bring his hand to his mouth again? Because there is no food in it. The slothful man suffers hunger, and it is not just a hunger in his stomach. Like the prodigal, he glutted himself on what he wanted to do - having fun, and sometimes with riotous living. Eventually the food runs out, and he has nothing to put in his mouth. What is the reaction of the sloth to this? Proverbs 19:15 indicates he simply goes to sleep instead of dealing with situation. That's why Paul said,

2 Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

And to Timothy he wrote,

1 Tim 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Slothfulness - It's Power To Destroy

The glutton may drink away the household money or piddle it away on his own pleasures while the family begs bread. Do you know any alcoholics? If you do, you know what I mean. But with the sloth, laziness eats away provision for the family and puts the burden on them while he sleeps his life away. Ecclesiastes 10:18 warns,

(Eccl 10:18 KJV) "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through."

A little slothfulness evolves into much slothfulness. It is habit-forming. When there is much slothfulness, things remain undone and the house itself starts to fall apart, decaying for lack of care while the sloth is out having fun or sleeping. If nobody steps forward to fix things in the moment, the house of the sloth decays. His responsibilities fall on everybody but him. The burden shifts to someone else, and what Jesus said about the burdens of the law enforced by the Pharisees becomes true of the sloth's irresponsibility:

Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

The word "idleness" in Ezekiel 16:49 means "to repose" and God said through Ezekiel,,

Ezek 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

God associated Sodom of Sodom and Gomorrah with pride, fullness (meaning, satiety, as in saturation) of bread (bread meaning, devour, eat). The "fullness of bread" or saturating yourself by eating. That's gluttony, and because there is abundance with no need to provide, there is also idleness in abundance. Once the abundance goes, idleness is left, poverty begins to reign, and slothfulness enters. God says, it's more than that, that that was Sodom to Him..

A Sloth's Deceit: A Hedge Of Thorns

Holman's Bible Dictionary said of the slothful,

"A same or related Hebrew root [associated with slothful] describes a loose tongue or mind as deceitful (Job 13:7; 27:4; Pss. 32:2; 52:4; Mic. 6:12)."

And Proverbs 15:19 says,

(Prov 15:19 KJV) "The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain."

Earlier we mentioned deceit in relation to the sloth. That's what this verse means. The way of the righteous is made plain. His life as a Christian matches the life he lives in the sight of others. In other words, there is consistency in both the outward life and the inward life. Paul was a good example of that. You can tell where the righteous man is coming from.

But the sloth will take you through a hedge of thorns so you can't follow him. In other words, he only wants you to see what he wants you to see because he knows his internal life as a Christian doesn't match up with the picture he paints for others to see outwardly. He's like the drunkard, meaning the glutton. He will deceive you to the hilt to get money for a drink, but when sober, he is totally different because his need of the moment has been satisfied.

(Prov 15:19 KJV) "The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns."
The deceitful ways of the sloth will tell you one thing, but he will do another, and you feel the prick of the thorn. You eventually learn you just can't trust what he says. In the parable in Matthew 21, Jesus asked,

Mat 21:28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

The one son didn't want to work, but after saying no, went and did what the father wanted. The other son didn't want to work in the fields either, and when asked, he deceitful answered, "Yes, I'll go," but then didn't. He told the father what he wanted to hear in order to pacify him while never intending to do what he said. Broken promises are very typical of the sloth. Jesus said that boy will have to hold the door open while the harlots and publicans went in first.

(Prov 15:19 KJV) "The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain."

HEDGE - 7753. suwk, sook; a prim. root; to entwine, i.e. shut in (for formation, protection or restraint):--fence. (make an) hedge (up).

The sloth will entwine evasive thoughts to protect his slothfulness, and to restrain further inquiries into his activities, motives and true intentions, or so his deceits won't be uncovered. Hemming and hawing, he builds this hedge with thorns, and almost anything will come out from his heart.

THORNS - 2312. hedeq, khay'-dek; from an unused root mean. to sting; a prickly plant:--brier, thorn.

All of this is to keep the inquirer at a distance, from getting to close. If one does, the ultimate response is anger as a shutdown or control measure followed by silence. These things are also true of the glutton and the alcoholic. It all stems from pride, which we will cover later.

The Sloth: Easy Food For The Lions

The tragedy of it all is that he only harms himself:

(Prov 21:25 KJV) "The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour."

Even a lion in the streets, seeking whom he may devour, is not enough to get him to do anything. He could care less. He just simply says, "So, I'll be killed by it."

(Prov 22:13 KJV) "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets."

As I said, the sloth and his ways usually catch up with him. The sloth will eventually lose sleep over his problems that he himself has created, tossing back and forth upon his bed:

(Prov 25:14 KJV) As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

The thing he doesn't realize because he refuses to wake up so Christ can give him light is this:

(Mat 25:26 KJV) "His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed:"

That's why Paul said, be

(Rom 12:11 KJV) "[Be] Not slothful in business; [but be] fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;"

The body of Christ is the place for the sloth to work himself out of his dilemma:

(Heb 6:12 KJV) "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

A Final Word

Both gluttony and the slothfulness deeply affect the lives of others, who become disheartened. The parents of the boy in Deuteronomy were certainly disheartened as they saw their words fall to the ground and the pile of rocks at the city gate. The prodigal's father was certainly disheartened as he watched his son walk away from the house jingling his pockets. It was certainly disheartening for the father to look out in the field and not see both his sons working the hot sun. It is hard for the sloth because the very meaning of slothfulness wars against his doing anything about his laziness. It is a deadly trap, killing any incentive to repent from his ways. To gain freedom, he must make strong efforts to be diligent in his responsibilities, to do all as unto the Lord.

Before going to Calvary, Jesus ate the last meal for the glutton. Before He went to the cross, He took last drink for the alcoholic. In giving up the Spirit, He put to rest the deep sleep of the sloth forever. And in His resurrection, ascension and glorification, made all things new to those who accept it.

Next Talk

Greed. - Continued