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Sloth & Zeal

25 February, 2018

Kids’ Sermon

Exotic animals quiz. What animal is this?: 1->8

  1. Blob Fish
  2. Tarsier
  3. Tardigrade
  4. Pipe Fish
  5. Goblin Shark
  6. Slug
  7. Thorny Devil
  8. Sloth

The Bible talks especially about two of these animals:
The slug and the sloth. And when it talks about the slug(gard) and the sloth, it’s talking about people who are lazy in their body, people who are lazy in their mind, and people who are lazy in their heart.

Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.
Proverbs 13:4
A lazy person is as bad as someone who is destructive.
Proverbs 18:9
As the door turns on its hinges, So does the sluggard on his bed.
Proverbs 26:14

Let’s look at some everyday examples of this:

Dad says, “You need to do your homework.”
Do you lie on the sofa and pick your ear, or do you jump up and do it?
You see that Mum needs help wash the cleaning.
Do you hide in a room, pretend you didn’t notice, and play Nintendo; or do you help mum with the cleaning?
You know in your heart that you should get up in the morning and have a quiet time, reading your Bible.
Do you roll over and sleep some more, or do you get up – and wake up! – and have a quiet time?

The Bible gives good advice about this. It talks about the consequences of being a sluggard.


  • don’t have friends
  • don’t have money
  • don’t have a good education
  • don’t have God What a sad life!

Now, the opposite of the sluggard is?

  1. Elephant seal
  2. Scorpion
  3. Ruby(Dog)
  4. Deer

The answer is d. A deer. The Bible describes deers as running free and fast, they are sure-footed, graceful, and best of all, they prance. It’s great to prance, isn’t it? Prancing goes well with a festal shout.

And when we live with energy and passion and determination – like a deer – then we find our lives look the opposite of the sluggard:

  • We have lots of friends
  • We have plenty of money
  • We learn a lot at school
  • We get to know God, and that’s the best thing of all.

So don’t be one of these: [slug].

Be one of these: Ruby Deer.


Mini-sermon 1. Sloth

In the kids’ talk today we talked about the sloth and the sluggard. I’d like to talk a little more about the sin of sloth. I want to talk about it because it’s easy to be affected by this sin and not be aware of it. For many, it’s a hidden sin.

Sloth has been defined in church tradition as one of the seven capital sins. A capital sin is a core sin that leads to other sins. That alone doesn’t concern me so much, but what does concern me is that of the seven capital sins, sloth is the only sin of omission. That is, all the other capital sins are sins of commission – bad things that we do. Sloth, being a sin of omission, is the absence of goodness, and that is why we often miss it.

So what is sloth?

If we only think of sloth as laziness then we’re going to miss the essence of it and fail to learn from it. Sloth is absolute indifference – to God, to the Truth, to other people.

Our key verse here is Mark 8:34. It should be familiar to you by now:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Mark 8:34



Sloth keeps us from doing this, in three ways.

  1. The sin of sloth leads us to not take God seriously. The sin of sloth leads us to not take sin seriously. The slothful person tends to avoid or put off dealing with these issues by becoming very busy. This is effective for the sloth because no-one can then accuse them of being lazy. But the reality is, you can be very busy and still be guilty of sloth. We are called to seriously seek God first in all things, and to live with a holy fear of God. But with sloth, there is no fear of God.
  2. The sin of sloth leads us to not seek God passionately. The sloth tends to take a casual approach to life choices, including speech, relational commitments, and spiritual decisions. As such, often the world evangelises them more than they evangelise it. I see sloth in those who ask questions about the faith, and who are given answers and resources, but who are later found asking the very same questions again because they were never passionate about finding God, or knowing the Truth, in the first place. With sloth, there might be tacit agreement and a liking of faith, but there is no devotion to God.
    怠惰の罪は神を熱心に求めないようにします。 怠惰であれば、神への献身はありません。
  3. The sin of sloth leads us to not take God personally. The sloth likes and agrees with the basic tenets of the faith, they embrace church culture and find meaning in the sacraments (baptism and communion), enjoy fellowship, and possibly even enjoy the pastor’s sermons very much, but with sloth there is no heart for God.

So in the end, the sloth might appear to embrace God and walk in faith, but just like the second and third seeds in the parable of the sower, they are easily distracted, easily intimidated, they never fully commit, they never grow to maturity, and they never persevere to become fruitful in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s quickly review:

  1. The sin of sloth leads us to not take God seriously so there is no fear of God.
  2. The sin of sloth leads us to not seek God passionately so there is no devotion to God.
  3. The sin of sloth leads us to not take God personally so there is no heart for God.

But Jesus said, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.
Luke 10:27



We must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him if we are to be His disciples.
Mark 8:34


Watch out for the sin of sloth because it will keep you from fulfilling these most important and central commands! Don’t let sloth keep you from having a dynamic relationship with God.

So what do we do if we agree with this, and we want to seriously, passionately and personally follow God, but we find ourselves vulnerable to sloth? The spirit is sort of willing, but the flesh is weak. There is an antidote to sloth, and that antidote is zeal. Godly zeal. We’ll look at this in just a moment.

Mini-sermon 2. Zeal

The antidote to sloth is godly zeal. So how do we increase our zeal? Four things.

  1. To build godly zeal, know that God is serious, passionate and personal about you.

We know this from John 3:16. God has demonstrated how serious He is about you through the sacrifice of His Son.

Listen to how passionate God is for the salvation of all people:

‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
Ezekiel 33:11


(+ Luke 13:34). God is very passionate about your salvation.

Listen to intimate God wants to be with us:

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
Romans 8:16,17


(+ Matthew 10:30) We are the children of God. It doesn’t get any more personal than that.

God is serious, passionate and personal about you.

  1. To build godly zeal, surround yourself with faithful, fruitful believers, and then imitate them and be influenced by them.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12


The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 12:26


Don’t be lead astray by anyone or any group, no matter how smart or funny or beautiful or magnificent they might be. Surround yourself and spend time with faithful, fruitful believers.

  1. Read.
  • Read the Bible

Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me.
Jeremiah 15:16 (Living)


It’s a familiar teaching, but be sure to read God’s Word daily.

  • Read other books

I’ve been really happy to see how many people have been borrowing books from our growing church library. Some have even been returning the books when they’re finished. Please do that! We’ll be having some book reviews in the weeks ahead. Reading books is one way that we can be influenced by others who are faithful and fruitful in their walk with God. It’s also another excellent way to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds.

  1. Praise

In the psalms, we see the key to King David’s heart: he chooses to turn his heart towards God in praise. He uses the most precious gift God gave to man — a free will — to decide to turn to God. He chooses to worship God, and each time David decides in his heart to turn toward God, to praise and worship God as an act of his will, God’s heart responds with an empowering.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
2 Chronicles 16:9


David’s heart choice for God is the deciding factor in his life, and this makes all the difference.

Let’s choose to have the same zealous heart for God that David had. If you have questions, don’t stop seeking answers until you find them. If you’re distracted by the temptations of the world, practice seeking first the Kingdom of God. If you’re feeling indifferent, put into place the other strategies I’ve been talking about today.

Let’s do that now, by praising God with a willing heart, and letting His Spirit lead us before His throne.