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Sloth 怠惰

Today we’re going to continue our look at the seven deadly sins and their blessing counterparts. We’ve already looked at pride & humility and envy & contentment. Today we start by looking at sloth.

A. What is sloth? 怠惰とは何でしょうか? The first answer you might think of is “laziness” and that is certainly part of the answer. But if we only think of sloth as laziness then we’re going to miss the heart of it and fail to learn from it.

Sloth is absolute indifference – to God, to the Truth, to other people. 
“Sloth is a condition … that has given up on the pursuit of God and Truth and the good.” Jonathon Dykes – Syd Ang Min.

So more than simply being lazy in body, sloth has just as much to do with having a lazy heart and a lazy mind.

It’s interesting that sloth is a unique sin because it is a sin of omission. (All the other primary sins are something that we do that we should not be doing.)
Sloth is the absence of a positive behavior (rather than the presence of a negative behavior).

Three ways that sloth appears in our world: 怠惰は次のようにみえます。
1. As selfishness 身勝手さ
Because there is a feeling of hopelessness, we turn inward and become apathetic towards anything but our own survival. We no longer care for anything outside our personal world. We are unwilling to give ourselves to anyone or anything that doesn’t directly benefit or support us. 直接自分の得にならない、自分を支持しない人や物に自分を費やしたくなくなる。

2. As busyness. 忙しさ
A favourite trick of sloth is to actually hide itself under endless physical activities. Then we feel we can’t be guilty of sloth. The busyness helps us to avoid the big issues in life. Important things are replaced by urgent things. (My priority is to spend time with God, show love to those around me, share the gospel, but! I’ve got to send that email, got to pay that bill, got to finish that homework assignment or that report…)

Sloth often calls itself ‘tolerance’. Believes in nothing. Cares for nothing. Seeks to know nothing. Interferes with nothing. Truly enjoys nothing. Truly loves nothing. Hates nothing. Finds purpose in nothing. Lives for nothing. Remains alive only because there is nothing worth dying for.怠惰はしばしば‘寛容’とも呼ばれます。何も信じない、何にも関心を持たない、何も知ろうとしない、何にも干渉しない、何も心から楽しまない、何も心から愛さない、何も憎まない、何に対しても目的がない、生きがいがない。ただ死ぬ価値がないから生きている。

3. As affluence. 豊かさ
Where there is abundance, people are no longer content to seek God to satisfy their needs but rather they indulge themselves – which leads to other sins like gluttony and other abuses. 裕福な人々は必要を満たすため神を求めるのに満足せず、欲しいままにのめり込んでいってしまいそれが暴飲暴食や乱用などの罪につながっていってしまう。

B. What is the opposite of sloth? [open question] 怠惰の反対は何でしょうか?
Zeal. 熱心
We need to be a little bit careful with zeal because it can be easily misunderstand and easily abused. A lot of terrible things have happened in the world because of misplaced zeal.
Paul (Saul) was zealous when trying to destroy the church. The 9/11 terrorists were zealous. Satan is zealous for souls and to destroy God’s creation.

So when we talk about zeal, we need to understand it as a righteous, godly zeal.
Galatians 4:18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.

Understanding that, let’s contrast sloth with godly zeal:
Where sloth tends toward the ordinary, zeal tends toward the holy.
Where sloth is personally and socially indifferent, zeal is deeply concerned for righteousness and justice.
Where sloth is self-focussed, zeal is God-focussed.
Where sloth is passively destructive, zeal is actively constructive.

Zeal is an attribute of God. Look in the Bible at what was achieved by the zeal of God:

2 Kings 19:31 (also Isaiah 37:32) – Israel’s deliverance from exile
For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:7 – Mankind’s deliverance from sin through Christ
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Scripture encourages us to be zealous, just like God. 聖書は神のように熱心であるようにと促しています。
Proverbs 23:17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Did you know there are very few moderating adverbs in the Bible? (explain adverbs)
We are not told to pray occasionally, to love our neighbours moderately, to rejoice from time to time, to serve God intermittently, to repent slightly or to follow Christ periodically.

We are to be zealous. 私たちは熱心であるべきです。
With regards to works:仕事において Rev 3:16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
With regards to prayer: 1 Thess 5:17 Pray without ceasing. 祈りにおいて
With regards to joy: Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 喜びにおいて
With regards to devotion to God:神に対する献身において
Deut 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Even secular work:信仰に関係のない仕事においても Col 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

We are to be zealous in our faith. 私たちは信仰において熱心であるべきです。

Deut 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Now, let me pause here for a moment just to clear up a possible misunderstanding. Zealously serving God does not mean that we are only capable of thinking and talking about Jesus, the Bible and church. That would just be boring and annoying. When we wholeheartedly serve God, we don’t narrow our lives to church related activities and speech only. (“So heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly good.”) Rather, we include the Holy Spirit in all areas and endeavors in our lives. Sure, there might be some unhealthy areas of our lives that we have to cut if we are to zealously follow Christ. But there should also be many areas that we continue with or enter – artistic, sporting, entertainment, technological, social interests etc. And as we embrace these interests and the people who share them with us, we shine the light of Jesus into them.

Likewise, being zealous doesn’t mean that we must be busy or take on a bigger load. It might. But on the contrary, it might mean doing less, so that we can do those things with a true godly zeal. The yoke of Jesus is easy and light. So we can be zealous for rest, too.

We live the gospel in all we do. So living a life of Godly zeal is not a narrowing of our lives or a busying of ourselves. If anything, it’s a broadening of it and a casting of light into our world.

In all things, we endeavour to be wholeheartedly Christlike. すべてにおいて、私たちは心からキリストのようになる努力をするのです。

Take time to meditate on the truths we’ve been talking about today and the call to be zealous for God. In prayer, confess any sin of casual or indifferent living and ask Jesus to strengthen you so that you might produce fruit in keeping with godly zealousness. Examine yourself and ask God to search your heart – how can you be more zealous in seeking God, in serving Him and in loving others? 神に熱心になり、何気なく生きている罪を告白し、神の御心にかなった熱心さを保ちながら実を結び、あなたの心を神に探ってもらいましょう-神を求めるのにもっと熱心になるにはどうすればいいでしょう。