Formations Lesson for June 20- Sins of Indifference- Sloth
June 4 2010 by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville

Focal Passage: Proverbs 6:6-11; 24:30-34  

Bernard Boyd taught New Testament at my college. One day he lectured on Mark 3:28-30:  blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the famous unforgivable sin. It wasn’t some legal technicality, he said, some secret word that, once spoken, damned you forever. People were accusing Jesus of getting His power from the devil, not God (v. 22). The sin was unbelief.

And it’s unforgivable, Dr. Boyd said, because if you don’t believe in Jesus, you certainly won’t ask for or accept His forgiveness. 

He told about a woman who was terrified that she had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, whatever it was, and that God would never forgive her. Dr. Boyd told her, “Madam, if you’re worried about it, you haven’t done it.”

Sloth is like that. If you’re worried about it, you’re probably not doing it — not yet. But it can slip up on you.

Sloth is not common laziness, like not doing your chores. It’s a spiritual condition.

Neither is it just being spiritually slack, like sleeping in on an occasional Sunday morning. It’s much worse.

The Latin term is acedia (a-SEED-ee-a), from a Greek word for “carelessness.” It means deep malaise, utter indifference, apathy, unconcern. Spiritually, you couldn’t care less.

It can also mean failing to nurture or cultivate: not taking care. The metaphor in Proverbs 24:30-34 is perfect: “a vineyard in ruin due to sloth’s neglect,” the Learner’s Study Guide says. The weeds take over, the walls fall down, and nobody cares.

It happens. Spiritual neglect can lead to spiritual “care-less-ness,” then spiritual ruin. Skip enough church, and eventually church no longer matters. Don’t read your Bible, and one day you can’t find it. Fail to live intentionally for God and for others, and you’ll forget how.

The opposite of sloth is caring: loving God and neighbor, and showing it. But love, untended, fades. Not overnight, but sooner or later.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard told a parable: A wild duck, migrating south, stops in a barnyard for the free food and decides to spend the winter. Next spring his wild cousins soar overhead, flying north. The duck tries to join them, flapping his wings and echoing their calls, but he’s grown too fat to fly.

The wild ducks come again, southbound in the fall. The grounded duck watches the sky longingly as they go. Years pass, until the day comes when the wild ducks wing their way over the farm, uttering their haunting cries, and the duck in the barnyard no longer notices at all.

That’s sloth.     
6/4/2010 4:29:00 AM by Ed Beddingfield, pastor, First Baptist Church, Fayetteville | with 0 comments

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