Skip to comments.A Study of Sloth in the Life of Lot
Posted on 07/02/2015 6:37:22 AM PDT by Salvation
A Study of Sloth in the Life of Lot Msgr. Charles Pope July 1, 2015
In daily Mass this week (the 13th week of the year) we have been reading through Genesis. Tuesdays reading highlights a significant spiritual problem: sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth is a sorrow, sadness, or aversion to the good things God offers. Rather than being joyful and zealous to obtain these gifts, the slothful person sees them as too much trouble to obtain and is averse to the changes such gifts might introduce into his life. This is clearly the case with Lot, who resists the attempts of God to rescue him and his family from the sinful city of Sodom, which is about to be destroyed. Lets examine his struggle in several steps.
I. Roots Lots personal troubles were many, but for our purposes his problems began when he pitched his tent toward Sodom (Gen 13:12). Abraham and Lot had grown very rich (almost never a good thing in the spiritual life) and realized that their flocks were so large that one part of the land could not sustain them both. Thus they agreed to live in different sectors. Abraham left the choice of areas to Lot, who (selfishly?) chose the better part for himself. The area where Sodom was is now a deep desert, but at that time the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt (Gen 13:10). And thus it was that Lot took his family and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
II. Risks But Sodom was a wicked city, filled with false worship, greed, insensitivity to the poor, and the approval and practice of homosexuality. I will not be writing on that in detail in this post, as I have already done so in previous ones.
But here is the risk that Lot takes: he turns his face toward Sodom and willingly exposes his family to the grave moral threats there. And it does indeed affect them. Ultimately, his wife cannot bear to leave, looks back, and is lost. His daughters escape, but later engage in the grave sin of incest. Lot, too, will find it hard to flee Sodom, finding Gods offer to save him to be too much trouble. Hed rather stay, whatever the risk.
If youre going to swim in muddy water, youre going to get muddy. And that mud gets in your ears and in your soul. This is what Lot risks and what results when he pitches his tent toward Sodom.
Many of us, too, think little about the risks that television, the internet, music, and culture pose to us and our children. Too easily we risk our eternal salvation and that of our children by pitching our tent toward Sodom through easy commerce with a world that is poisonous to our faith. Even if some things are troublesome, many of us make little effort draw back and limit, even in little ways, the influences that are contrary to our faith.
III. Resource Lot has only one resource in his favor: Abraham is praying for his neer-do-well nephew. He asks Gods destroying angel to spare Lot and his family (Gen 19). God agrees to this and acts to save Lot in spite of himself. Really, its the only thing that saves Lot.
It is true that Lot was just, in the sense that he did not approve of the sin around him. But neither did he act to really protect himself or his family from it. Something about Sodom appealed to him. Perhaps he thought he could make money there (or perhaps the trains ran on time). Whatever the benefits, Lot weighed them more heavily than the risks.
And so, too, for many today, who leave the TV on no matter the risk because it entertains or has some other perceived benefit that outweighs the obvious risks. Or those for whom its just too much trouble to monitor the websites their children visit or the music they listen to.
It really is only Abrahams prayers that save Lot, who would live with sinners, from dying along with them. Thus, dont forget the power of prayer for some of the neer-do-wells you may know. God may act to save them before the Day of Judgment simply because you prayed for them.
IV. Root Sin But here comes the heart of the story: sloth. The angel warns, Flee! But Lot hesitates. Fleeing is hard work; it means leaving things behind that you like. Perhaps Lot thinks, Maybe the warnings of destruction are overblown; maybe it wont really be so bad. Here is what the story says: V. As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom. When he hesitated, the men, by the LORDs mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: Flee for your life! Dont look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away! Oh, no, my lord! Lot replied, You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. Its only a small place. Let me flee thereits a small place, is it not? that my life may be saved. Well, then, he replied, I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of. Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there. That is why the town is called Zoar (Gen 19:15-21).
Wow, this is sloth with a capital S! So lazy and settled in with sin has Lot become, that hed rather accept death than expend the effort to flee. Not only that, he cant even manage to rouse himself in order to save his family. Its all just too much trouble. Sloth is sorrow, sadness, or aversion.
Thanks to Abrahams prayers, the angels literally drag Lot and his family out of the city and repeat the warning: Flee! God who made you without you, will not save you without you. So Lot must cooperate. But still, Lot sees it as all just too much trouble. In effect, he says, Man, those hills look far away. And theyre not nearly as nice as this valley. Its going to take a lot of effort to get there. Do I really have to go that far?
And here is another aspect of sloth: compromising with evil despite knowing the danger. Even if it occurs to many that some things in their lives need to change, they try to minimize those changes. The Lord tells us that we cannot serve two masters, that we cannot serve both the world and Him. In other words, we must decisively choose God over the demands of this world whenever there is a conflict. But many, realizing that this may introduce uncomfortable situations or have financial impacts, begin to negotiate with their conscience, saying, Im basically serving God well, at least mostly. Maybe its enough if I do a few holy things and serve God for the most part. And then I can still serve the world and enjoy its fruits, too. Maybe Ill serve God 80% and the world 20%. Hmm well, maybe thats a little too ambitious. After all I have a career and I dont want to risk that promotion. How about if I serve God 60% and the world 40%? Is that enough?
Thank God for His mercy! (And thank Abraham for his prayers.) We are a real mess. As the text shows, God will take the little he can get from Lot, at least for now, in order to save him. But God shouldnt have to take this from us. Only grace and mercy can spare us from ourselves.
V. Results But note this: grace and mercy need to have their effect. We cannot go on in sloth forever. We have to allow God to heal this deep drive of sin in us or we will be destroyed. Lot is saved for now, but great tragedy is still in store for him. His wife will turn back in longing for Sodom and be lost. His daughters cannot get Sodom out of them and will later turn to incest (Gen 19:30ff). And from this incest will be born the ancestors of the enemies who will later afflict Israel: the Moabites and the Ammonites.
And what of us today? What role have we played in pitching our tents toward Sodom? What happens to us and to our children and grandchildren when all we do is express shock at the condition of the world but expend little real effort to protect ourselves from it or actively change it? What happens to us when we learn to live off the fruits of our Sodom, and make easy compromises with the world in terms of greed, insensitivity to the poor, and sexual confusion? What happens when Gods plan to rescue us through the gifts of chaste living, generosity, and more simple living, is rejected as too much trouble or as requiring us to give up too many things that we like? Many think to themselves, I know my favorite television show has bad scenes, but I like the story line and I want to find out what happens at the end of the season. I know I should be clearer and firmer with my children, but that leads to conflict and I hate conflict, and besides theyll complain if they cant have a smart phone. And its so much trouble trying to monitor their Internet activity. And and and
What happens when we do this, when we slothfully reject Gods offer of a better, less-compromised way? Well, we dont have look far; we know what happens. We and the people we love get lost, wounded, corrupted, confused, and even die, both physically and spiritually.
The virtues opposed to sloth are zeal and joy. Zeal for Gods truth and the beauty of holiness, and a joyful pursuit of the life God offers us are gifts to be sought. Sloth is very pernicious and has cumulative effects. We havent done well, collectively speaking. Its time to turn more zealously to God, to appreciate the truth of what He has always taught. Its time to gratefully, joyfully study His ways, and live them and share them with others.
Here, then, is a study of sloth in the life of Lot, a lesson more necessary and urgent today than ever before.
Interesting too for our times, the one day we should rest, we dont. Heres an old song from the Moody Blues that recalls Sunday rest:
Monsignor Pope Ping!
One of the greatest sins I see among FReepers.
Yet Peter referred to Lot as righteous.
“pitch a tent towards Sodom.” Beavis and Butthead understand.
....here is the risk that Lot takes: he turns his face toward Sodom and willingly exposes his family to the grave moral threats there. And it does indeed affect them. Ultimately, his wife cannot bear to leave, looks back, and is lost. His daughters escape, but later engage in the grave sin of incest. Lot, too, will find it hard to flee Sodom, finding Gods offer to save him to be too much trouble. Hed rather stay, whatever the risk....
....Lot has only one resource in his favor: Abraham is praying for his neer-do-well nephew. He asks Gods destroying angel to spare Lot and his family (Gen 19). God agrees to this and acts to save Lot in spite of himself. Really, its the only thing that saves Lot.
It is true that Lot was just, in the sense that he did not approve of the sin around him. But neither did he act to really protect himself or his family from it. Something about Sodom appealed to him. Perhaps he thought he could make money there (or perhaps the trains ran on time). Whatever the benefits, Lot weighed them more heavily than the risks....
....So lazy and settled in with sin has Lot become, that hed rather accept death than expend the effort to flee. Not only that, he cant even manage to rouse himself in order to save his family. Its all just too much trouble. Sloth is sorrow, sadness, or aversion. Thanks to Abrahams prayers, the angels literally drag Lot and his family out of the city and repeat the warning: Flee! God who made you without you, will not save you without you. So Lot must cooperate. But still, Lot sees it as all just too much trouble. In effect, he says, Man, those hills look far away. And theyre not nearly as nice as this valley. Its going to take a lot of effort to get there. Do I really have to go that far?
circlecity: Yet Peter referred to Lot as righteous.
Indeed he did:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;You'd think that Msgr. Charles Pope would listen to the words of his first pope, but instead he proves himself a scripturally illiterate idiot.
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished...
-- 2 Peter 2:4-9
Ha-ha, sloth. I love it.
(i)Only grace and mercy can spare us from ourselves.
Excellent essay! Thank you.
Lots wife was a pillar of the community too...
Salt of the earth she was...
Sunday School teacher: “Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.”
Little Johnny nods and says: “My mother looked back and turned into a telephone pole.”
In contrast with the Sodomites, Lot was certainly righteous. That doesn’t mean he was perfect.
Lot could have been a "righteous" man who was "vexed" about the evils of his neighbors, and still have been too slothful to act effectively. He still had his "tent pitched" there within the moral stench of Sodom, still was reluctant to do what the angel said, still said the hills were too far away, still (arguably) had stayed in the environs so long that he's partly responsible for his wife and daughters being corrupted: his wife because she looked back, his daughters because they later turned to sexual vice themselves.
Lot could be "just" and "vexed" with the evil, and still have this flaw of being too passive and too much of a procrastinator, having to be grabbed by the hands and dragged out of harm's way.
Or do you think that righteous men must be faultless? He did have the fault, I would argue, of offering his daughters to be gang-raped, and of getting so drunk his daughters could exploit him sexually.
So if Lot was a "just" man, he was also one with, shall we say, a certain amount of imperfection.
Of course you don't "get" my objection. I'm convinced you didn't even read my post.
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