What Is the Sin of Acedia and How Can Christians Combat It?
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up - Galatians 6:9.
Acedia - the sin of sloth or laziness -- is the enemy of moral achievement and the agent of cultural bone rot. Isaiah exposed this in his day when he lamented, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14).
Secrecy and camouflage accompany its weakening of the conscience and vitiating of the will. Acedia easily becomes a habit of the heart, a way of being that blends in with the moral mediocrity—or even debauchery—of the day. Vice it is, but a crafty one. Monks and nuns of the medieval age understood acedia, both in experience and in concept. They called it “the noonday demon.” Theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas and John Cassian, wrote about it in depth. Yet Christians today hardly mention it or even know its meaning.
Scripture condemns laziness, warns of its results, and commends diligence in doing goodness. Many of these anti-indolence texts are proverbs.
Through laziness, the rafters sag;
because of idle hands, the house leaks—Eccles 10:18.
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.—Proverbs 18:9
In a longer proverb, King Solomon tells us to look to the ant for rebuke and exhortation.
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man (Proverbs 6:6-11).
If the lowly ant is industrious in its realm, then how much more should God’s image-bearers get about the work of having dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:26).
Jesus, in The Apocalypse, issues these flaming words against laziness:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 4:14-16).
Jesus, whose ardor led him to the Cross to please God and redeem God’s people, does not tolerate tepid religion. He did not take up and go to the Cross to make us comfortable in our conformity to custom and convenience.
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