Lent: Sloth – Jesus is the Better Rest
Meditation on Matthew 11:28
Dorothy Sayers has no kind thing to say about sloth. “In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing. Lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years…”
She continues by noticing that we have masked sloth as busyness. “It’s a favorite trick of this sin to disassemble itself under the cover of a whiffling activity of the body… if we are busily rushing… we cannot be suffering from sloth.” She adds that all other vices provide covering fire, distracting us from Sloth’s advance. Gluttony offers furious indulgence; Covetousness gets us productive to beat the Joneses; Wrath cleverly tells us that our only response to an evil world is the loud, vicious, incessant cursing of it. It’s all busyness, but it’s also all sloth. It is a refusal to do what we aught (fight sin), and a refusal to rest in what we aught (Jesus).
Sloth is like the incantation of the witch in The Silver Chair. Her evil powers almost convince Puddleglum and the kids that the cave is the only real world. The sun isn’t real – they just imagined a bigger and better lamp. Aslan isn’t real – they just imagined a bigger and a better cat. “Be content with the cave,” she lilts, “the cave is all there is, sleep now.” Or for our purposes, the spell reads: “Don’t fight the sin. Jesus’ rest is a mirage. Sloth is better.”
At the bottom, one of the prime reasons we don’t crucify lesser desires is that we believe the witch. In her fog of false promises, we forget that Narnia is better than the cave. We forget that the rest of Jesus is better than the abdication of our responsibilities. We don’t do what we aught because we believe sloth is better rest. But Narnia is real, and Jesus is better.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Jesus says our weariness comes first. He expects tired souls. The only prerequisite for coming to Jesus is being heavy laden. When we come poor, tired, and weary, he provides the rest. When the battle to fight sin is hardest and our weakness most evident, it’s then that Jesus breaks out the softest pillows, the warmest blankets, and the most fortifying drinks. Forget the broken promises of sloth and come to Jesus, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.