First up. Could laziness be the original sin? A lot of theories surround what exactly constitutes original sin. Those in the literary fields usually attribute the original sin to the discovery of sexuality, pointing to the serpent as a phallic symbol, but then, those in literary fields usually think everything is Freudian. More ancient commentary on original sin tends towards the idea of concupiscence. That word means lust or desire, encompassing the literary idea and adding a generalized greed for power, knowledge, wealth, or whatever.
However, as I amble along Scott Peck’s classic, The Road Less Travelled, I recently came across this notion of laziness as the original sin. He asks why Adam and Eve do not ask God for an explanation of why it is they must not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They did not bother to get to the truth of the matter; they merely accepted a stranger’s word for it.
I probably lack the theological expertise to fully delve into this area with any scholarly authority. Well, I definitely lack the scholarly authority. However, currently, the most common explanation of original sin is simply disobedience. But I think there is a real connection between disobedience and laziness that bears exploration.
I remember when I first entered into prayer ministry. Being the enthusiastic person that I generally am, I thought everyone would line up. After all, free healing! How cool is that? And I got to see some people really set free. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing Jesus show up and make some crooked paths straight.
I heard constant complaints about all sorts of ills, from depression to anxiety, but if pressed, these same people who confessed to constant emotional misery, would not consider pursuing help of any kind. I finally began to mentally categorize them. As I grew in maturity myself, the better I was at allowing people to be who and what they were, without expectation. But I also learned to steward my energy and channel it only into those who really wanted something different for their lives.
So from my observations, it seems that three kinds of laziness dominate the refusal to grow. I have no difficulty attributing these kinds of laziness that keep us from growing to original sin. After all, it is the mere fact of our tendency towards sin that the Genesis story is about. And I think that most sins can be traced to different kinds of laziness. After all, we lie because it is easier; we steal rather than work, and we commit adultery rather than put the effort into our marriages.
Three Kinds of Laziness
- Mental Laziness. This is not a guilt trip to make sure you do your homework. However, while I fully understand that the body of Christ is filled with diverse opinions, too many people believe what they want because to find out differently would cause a lot of hassle.
Many times, people would decide, for instance, that prayer ministry was a deception. When I asked them about the reasons for this theological assumption, they couldn’t really give one. They didn’t actually know much about what it was, but they had heard someone else say something about it and so were perfectly content to let that someone do the thinking for them.
If you are miserable in any area of your life, the first step is, of course, to admit to yourself that you are miserable. But the second step is to educate yourself. Think you are depressed? Look up depression. Struggle with anxiety? Find out how other people cope. My research into healing from abuse has had an effect that has literally affected hundreds of people, including my own life and the lives of my children. If you are stuck, you must start making an effort to get unstuck. No one can live your life for you.
- Emotional Laziness: One of the central reasons we suffer from emotional issues is because we will move heaven and earth to avoid feeling our feelings. Someone wise once told me that we don’t have to fix our emotions. They aren’t broken. We just have to feel them. So many people that have come to me are clearly suffering from terrible grief or trauma. They become paralyzed by the fear of experiencing or facing their loss.
Denial is the ultimate form of emotional laziness. If we pretend that a problem isn’t there, maybe it will go away. Maybe we can escape feeling bad. But most of the emotional abandonment and neglect I see comes from this deep-seated laziness within us. Empathy takes work. Emotions are tiring. Loving someone well takes a lot of effort. We tune out, both to avoid our own moods but also to avoid the discomfort of deep attachment.
Or we attack. A temper tantrum lets people know that we are not emotionally available. Anger then surrounds us like a moat filled with crocodiles. I write this and the words from Simon and Garfunkel come to my mind. I am a rock. I am an island. I touch no one and no one touches me.
- Spiritual Laziness: The care and feeding of the human spirit is arguably our most important task as human beings. I am not talking about the requisite devotional time and church on Sundays, though those can be a part of it. Your spirit longs for the presence of God. If it does not, then your spirit is asleep. How can you tell if your spirit is drowsy? Do you fall asleep the moment you are in an anointed service? Are you emotionally and mentally blank? For some, the mere mention of God infuriates them.
Your spirit is the eternal part of your whole makeup. It is in your spirit that you feel the presence of God, who is of course, spirit. Your spirit has dreams. Not nighttime dreams. Destiny dreams. But being in the presence of the Holy Spirit is convicting. He wants to transform us from the depths on outward. He may do a lot of the work, but transformation is well…transforming. Nothing easy about it.
As I write this, I can think of several areas in my life in which I need a heavenly work ethic. The heavenly work ethic is weird. People all get paid the same. The yoke is easy, the burden light. All our good deeds count for nothing. Faith is the currency and love is the foundation. We cease from our striving and labor to enter the rest. It is not about doing. It is about being.
At least I have learned that striving isn’t the way out of laziness. Actually, a lot of striving is just more avoidance, which amounts to laziness of sorts. Just not physical laziness. The way out of these three kinds of lazy traps is the same way out of the conundrum of original sin. Here are a few hints:
- Know your enemies. Not the backbiters at work or the frenemies at church. I’m talking about the world, the flesh, and the devil. Each of these lie to you. Are lying to you right now, in fact. But ask yourself this: Are you willing to hear the truth? You may not always know the difference between the two, but are your ears willing to listen to anyone other than your three enemies?
- Be willing to fail or be wrong. The fear of failure is a bear trap. I see brilliant people wasted because they dare not risk failure. The emotional cost is too much, they figure. But if you are willing to see and hear the truth, then expect to find out things that are uncomfortable. Sometimes no pain really is no gain.
- Relax your grip. The laziest people I know are controllers. Yeah, they are often very hard workers. But they would rather keep everything under wraps then deal with the uncertainties of human relationship. Everything is an exchange. But life is full of ups and downs. Don’t avoid the roller coaster, not that you can. Instead, enjoy the ride.
- Learn to abide. If you attach yourself to the Source of all life, you will find yourself reanimating. Moving parts that haven’t moved for a while makes for some soreness. But you don’t have to be a slave to yourself and your sins anymore. A rewarding mental, emotional, and spiritual life requires growth. It requires abiding in the vine, as the little branch you are.
I am going to end this piece with one of my favorite poems. I am including it as a link. The title is Spiritual Chickens. It cracks me up every time I read it. And then it convicts me. What lengths am I willing to go to in order to avoid facing a reality that is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging? The poem ends with the line, “Better to just go crazy.” And you know, every person who has told me that they suffer from an endless number of mental or emotional problems, says just that when they refuse to face uncomfortable realities.
Also, if you have not read this, you must. If you are interested in spiritual growth, then this is a classic. Think of it as an act of spiritual, mental, and emotional growth. You will know so much more about yourself if you read this.
And while you are at it, this book will grow your spirit. I first read it fifteen years ago. I still think about it almost every week. It changed me deep in my spirit.
*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission off any purchase you make at no cost to you. But honestly, if that bothers you just go straight to Amazon. I just really want a world filled with people who have read these books.
For more on the topic of maturity: