Seven Deadly Sins: Part VII – Sloth

Yaaaayyy!! Finally! On to the last in this series. In past months i’ve covered Anger (mistakenly confused with Wrath or unrighteous Anger), Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride and now Sloth.

Sadly, and perhaps predictably, and possibly self-evidently, the one i think i have the biggest issue over.

Idea here? I give a brief def’n of something other, more spiritually aware, people than i have deemed a Deadly or Mortal Sin. capable of unredeeming us if we entertain them in ourselves and would lead us to eternal damnation if we fail to acknowledge and repent sincerely of them.

Then i give an example in my own life and what, if anything i have managed to do so far to overcome it (the particular Sin of the Seven) in my life. Then you add your own examples and solutions – if you would be so kind 🙂

– habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.
– apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue.
– Synonyms: shiftlessness, idleness, slackness.
(From Wikipedia) More than other sins, the definition of sloth has changed considerably since its original inclusion among the seven deadly sins. In fact it was first called the sin of sadness or despair. It had been in the early years of Christianity characterized by what modern writers would now describe as melancholy: apathy, depression, and joylessness — the last being viewed as being a refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world he created. Originally, its place was fulfilled by two other aspects, acedia and sadness. The former described a spiritual apathy that affected the faithful by discouraging them from their religious work. Sadness (tristitia in Latin) described a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent, which caused unhappiness with one’s current situation. When Thomas Aquinas selected acedia for his list, he described it as an “uneasiness of the mind”, being a progenitor for lesser sins such as restlessness and instability. Dante refined this definition further, describing sloth as being the “failure to love God with all one’s heart, all one’s mind and all one’s soul.” He also described it as the middle sin, and as such was the only sin characterised by an absence or insufficiency of love.

The modern view of the vice, as highlighted by its contrary virtue of zeal or diligence, is that it represents the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts. For example, a student who does not work beyond what is required (and thus fails to achieve his or her full potential) could be labeled slothful.

Current interpretations are therefore much less stringent and comprehensive than they were in medieval times, and portray sloth as being more simply a sin of laziness or indifference, of an unwillingness to act, an unwillingness to care (rather than a failure to love God and his works). For this reason sloth is now often seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins, more a sin of omission than of commission.

From the above it seems fair to me to say Sloth, as a Sin, is the unwillingness to Do ‘Something’ towards assuring we follow God’s Will for us, His Children. (Be that an activity, utilisation of a particular skill or talent or learning something of use concerning our self so as to better be able to follow His Will over our own).

God took one day off in the first Seven in which to rest after his labours – if we do significantly less ‘work’ than that it could well be we are engaging in Sloth.

For those readers who may be concerned regarding illnesses, i would think He is well aware of the limits of your ability to perform certain duties for the duration, but i would not let that be a cause for any complacency. i believe His primary desire for us is to love Him, love your neighbour. If you can work on those i feel that constiutes an absence of Sloth. 🙂

So: my sloth? Many and varied. I love to lie in bed in the mornings – been that way since i was a kid in England where getting up to go to school frequently meant getting out of bed before the sun was up in a COLD house and then having a mile or so to walk, sometimes in both snow and darkness or rain alone to reach the school. Not a particularly enjoyable prospect for a seven year old. Times have changed but some habits have not – Sloth! i know this is not of any particular benefit to me and may even be to my cost. It does mean i have a greater than usual ability to stay awake longer than someand so sometimes get to bed late (which adds to the ‘problem’) – but i am working on that 😉

Again, at school, i developed the habit of leaving assignments and study due until the last minute and still somehow managed to qualify for University entrance in my desired field of Science (Chem and Computing Studies) Sloth and a successful entrance examination into a public service career ensured i have not yet completed same (more sloth).

Old habits are hard to break (harder still if you never get started!) 😉

It took me Thirty years to Finally begin any serious approach to come to know God How slothful is THAT? almost 20 years on and progress is somewhat slow and goes in fits and starts. The last 2 years have been somewhat more fruitful, but more in knowledge than productive work outside of myself.

What have i done to overcome it? i said at the start this may be the Sin i have the greatest issue with. Truth is – other than reading Scripture and other research into Christ and my knowledge of the Universe and my place in it (and the odd volunteer or Charity works/donations) and blogging about some of it… i have not actually done all that much. With regards to Dante’s definition as being the only Sin characterised by an insufficiency of love… i AM learning how and who to love with all my heart and mind and Soul and Strength. Slowly.

Any ideas?


  1. discipline.

    it takes discipline to accomplish anything. one thing that ignites me to be disciplined is ‘desire’. so, Love, what do you desire? is that desire strong enough to take precedence over your extended rest and warm blankie?


  2. Good point! Have only ever found one particular desire of mine to be that strong – to get me out of a nice warm bed in a morning.

    Love – pure and simple.

    Except, for almost every human, love is rarely pure and never simple.



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