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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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1. Gospel usage.—The noun ‘sloth’ is not found; the adj. ‘slothful’ (ὀκνηρός) occurs once only (Matthew 25:26). The wicked, slothful, and unprofitable servant is silhouetted once, for all men and time. The words, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant,’ ‘were in the Gospel well coupled; and the first epithet was grounded on the second, he being therefore wicked, because he had been slothful’ (Barrow). It is the man of one talent, and he who has buried the same, that is guilty of the sin of sloth. That is true psychology. But let every man give heed unto himself. Genius has yielded to this sin as well as mediocrity. Stewardship of five talents has been neglected, and equally in that case the ‘precipitate’ of character has been sloth.

2. The life of Jesus a rebuke to slothfulness.—The Saviour was in all respects a complete opposite to ‘the slothful servant.’ The zeal of the Lord ate Him up (John 2:17). Early and late He wearied not in welldoing, but accomplished what was given Him to do. ‘Our great example, the life of our blessed Lord Himself, what was it but one continual exercise of labour? His mind did ever stand bent in careful attention, studying to do good. His body was ever moving in wearisome travel to the same Divine intent’ (Barrow). His practice stimulates to diligence, His preaching warns to avoid sloth. The Apostle Paul was built on the same model. When he bids men be ‘not slothful in business’ (Romans 12:11 Authorized Version ), these are the words of a man who was in labours most abundant (2 Corinthians 11:23).

Literature.—Bruce, Parabolic Teaching of Christ, ‘The Talents’; Horton, Proverbs, ‘Idleness’; Barrow, Sermons, on ‘Industry’; Drummond, Natural Law in the Spiritual World, ‘Degeneration’; Stalker, Seven Deadly Sins (1901), 115.

John R. Legge.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Slothfulness'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Friday, June 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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Slowness of Heart
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