Sloth can be defined as a couple of things - laziness, depression, slowness, procrastination, refusing to act or obey, the "I don't care" attitude... those are just a few. Some other ideas we discussed related to sloth - doubt, hopelessness, despair, suicide, God doesn't care, the suspicious feeling that Jesus was lying when He said "your sins are forgiven."
But what we need to think of when we hear the term "sloth" is death. Death of the soul. Death of our faith. That mind-numbing, couch potato state of existence where we don't feel, don't think, don't act. It means there is something terribly wrong on the inside!
Even in little doses, sloth can kill. You guys brought up the outbreaks of staph infection in American schools. Why is this happening? Because people are too lazy to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. Yuck! They are lazy and are giving you poo germs when they shake your hands because they couldn't take 30 seconds to wash their hands. 30 seconds of laziness causes massive outbreaks of nasty and very deadly disease all over the place.
A clue that sloth is knocking at your door:
Any time you think, "I should..." and you don't, that is sloth creeping in. Anything from getting out of bed, to helping your mom with the dishes, to giving that homeless guy $50. If you think, even for one second, that you should have done something, then you should have done it! If you don't, you are allowing sloth to enter into your heart and you risk death!
How do you prevent sloth? Easy, well, sort of... you practice the spiritual disciplines. The what? The spiritual disciplines. These things all by themselves are a sort of Christian busy work. But unlike your busy work at school, these activities keep your mind focused on the things of God and help to transform you into the character of Christ. What are they? I thought you would ask so I listed a few here:
Scripture Reading & Study
Stewardship of Time and Money
Silence & Solitude
A guy named Donald Whitney wrote a book & study guide/workbook on these disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is pictured above.
Check it out here:
http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/books.html (scroll down a bit, the 4th & 5th books listed)
You can also get some cool resources he's made for his seminary classes here:
Remember one more important thing about sloth and what makes it so dangerous. Because we have decided not to be in the word or we have decided not to follow God, we often have doubt creep into our spiritual lives. We aren't renewing our mind like we should (with the BIBLE) so we forget that God is all knowing, all powerful, and truly in charge of everything around us. When we forget this we are tempted to look to the common "gospel" of our culture - the idea that we can command God to do whatever we want. (remember the true gospel = Christ on the cross NOT God gimme this or gimme that) We know in our head and in our heart that God is everything and Christ died so we could have access to God, but if we start to let sloth sneak in, we can doubt that God cares about us and may even doubt our salvation. That's crazy! I don't know about you, but I don't EVER want to doubt the sin-covering sacrifice that Jesus made for me and my horrible sins.
I know we talked about a whole lot of other things, but we just couldn't fit it in to this post.
Here's a link to the article I read about the atheist goal to destroy your faith. Remember the author, Dinesh D'Souza, is a former atheist and is quoting other atheists. (The Atheist Indoctrination Project)
I hope this kicks you into righteous anger that causes you to read scripture and learn to defend your faith.
Avoid Sloth with everything in you - your life depends on it!