I have had the nickname Sloth since I was a teenager. There are people in college that probably never knew that my real name was Scott.
You would have to ask my friend David why he started calling me Sloth but apparently the name fits my approach to life and general countenance. It is interesting that Sloths are trending now. You can’t walk into a store without seeing stuffed Sloths, t-shirts with Sloths on them, or flip around the web and not see sloth videos and sloth references.
Strangely enough, the term sloth also makes the list of deadly sins. This has obviously nothing to do with the animal but is a life characterized by lack of motivation and effort. But are we just talking about work ethic and productivity?
Rebecca DeYoung, in her book Glittering Vices, points the reader to the ancient Christian view on sloth. That the vice of sloth is not just a lack of diligence but a lack of diligence in matters of the faith. It is the unwillingness to work to care for Growing Up.
This lack of effort is a demonstration of a limited level of love for God. For if love for God was truly present then the person would have the motivation to work on their spiritual life and apply the discipline to take on hard tasks for the benefit of God and our own development. DeYoung states, “Both inner and outer manifestations of sloth are thus linked to one’s religious commitment and one’s attitude toward the demands of the spiritual life.”
And it is not just the couch potatoes that can be accused of slothfulness. The over-busy and the go-go overachievers can be just as slothful because in their constant effort towards productivity and industriousness they fail to take the time or the intention to devote themselves to God and develop into Christlikeness.
How does one remedy a slothful tendency to neglect love’s demands on our self? One thing that can be done is to stop treating God as a means to get what I want without any personal responsibilities of my own. Just like an effective marriage requires work and effort and sacrifice to cultivate the relationship, our commitment to God is not all mountain tops and worship highs and comfort zones. We need to take the long view and develop a sense of intention that sees past the immediate for the greater reward of a lasting, sustainable, and eternally rewarding commitment.
I am proud of my nickname for it reminds me of those incredibly interesting, monklike creatures but it also reminds me of the necessity of commitment, true love, and even sacrifice needed for a healthy Christian life.