Am I going to hell because I’m lazy?

Do you know what the seven deadly sins are? According to the Catholic Church, they are: pride, sloth, gluttony, anger, envy, avarice, and lust. Sloth? What’s that? No, it’s not a monkey that hangs upside-down from a tree. It’s just another word for laziness, idleness, indolence, sluggishness, or acedia. Do you know what a deadly sin is? (They’re also known as capital or mortal sins.) Well, if you’re guilty of committing one and die before receiving absolution from a priest, the consequence is deadly; mainly, everlasting damnation! Now, perhaps, you can understand my concern. You see, I’m lazy, and what some may call old, so I may be condemned to hell at any moment!

I know what you’re thinking, if I’m so worried about it, why don’t I change my religion? I’m afraid that’s not much help. You see, all religions, as well as the ancient philosophers, condemn laziness. I even tried Zoroastrianism, but one of their demons, named Bushyasp, is actually laziness incarnate. Imagine having a demon named after you! Don’t ask me to try Confucianism either. I already looked into it. Confucius believed that earthquakes and natural disasters were warnings from above that the “son of Heaven” (Emperor) was too lazy! Even benign Buddhism condemns laziness as one of the Five Mental Hazards (the other four are sensual desire, ill will, worry, and doubt).

What’s all the Fuss About?

I don’t have any problem when God commands, “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not steal,” but, “Thou shalt not be lazy” seems a bit harsh. However, after thinking about it, I came to realize that when we’re lazy, we are guilty of killing. Killing time. Which is another way of saying killing life. For idling away time is not living; it’s lingering. Don’t we grow old more through laziness, than through age? If we want to be lazy, why not just die? Perhaps that is what the Hindus mean by their proverb, “It is better to sit down than to stand, it is better to lie down than to sit, but death is the best of all.”

We’re not only guilty of killing when we’re lazy. We’re also guilty of stealing. For as the scripture of Zoroastrianism states: “If one does not perform duty to one whom the duty is due, one becomes a thief of the duty.” (Avesta, Videvidad 4.1) Goofing off at work? If so, we’re stealing from the boss! The concept that laziness is stealing is an important one. For we have roles to play and people are counting on us to perform our duties. When we fail to do so, we are stealing from them. Yet, it’s not only others that we steal from. For each time we decide to do nothing, we are shortchanging ourselves, stealing from ourselves, robbing our own potential.

Did you ever take a lot of trouble to select a gift only to find the recipient didn’t appreciate it? Ingratitude or thanklessness is not a trait to be admired. Imagine being God and dispensing the greatest gift of all, life. What if that gift wasn’t savored, wasn’t used, wasn’t glorified, wasn’t appreciated? Is laziness a sign of the appreciation of life, or is it an indication of our ingratitude? This is a question my wife asked herself when she saw me slumped over the computer keyboard. Gently shaking me, she roused me from my slumber and asked, “Are you being lazy again?” I awoke with a startle and quickly explained, “No, I’m not being lazy. I was just meditating on the vice of sloth.”

During my meditation, another point arose in my consciousness. Mainly, whenever we are lazy, we are losing momentum or heading downhill. In either event, not a very good place to be. Before laziness becomes a habit, we should heed the following warning, “How long will you lie there sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:9-11) By now you may agree with me that laziness is not as trivial as I first imagined. How can we tell when we’re being lazy? All we have to do is ask ourselves, “Is there a better way for me to use my time?”

Slaying the Dragon of Sloth

If I were to say, “I am lazy,” it implies that I cannot change. But that is not true. Of course, I can change. So, the correct statement is, “I am a person that sometimes engages in lazy behaviour.” The first step in slaying the dragon of sloth, then, is to monitor our thoughts and correct them when necessary. Once we stop saying “I am lazy,” we are preparing ourselves to slay the dragon before it devours us.

We often avoid tasks because we find them overwhelming. We can solve this problem by taking baby steps, or as Mark Twain explains, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Remember, we are never lazy when it comes to the things we want to do; so, it is not a matter of a lack of energy, but a lack of motivation. Therefore, to overcome laziness, we need to master motivation. If our reason to act is great enough, we will have the will to act. We need to think. Think of the reasons why we want to act. Think of and focus on the benefits we will gain by acting. Frequently reflecting on the person we can and want to be can help motivate us to act.

When the CEO of a large company was asked how many people worked in his office, he replied, “About half.” The other half were goofing off. How come? It’s about motivation or the reason for acting. For many people, the sole purpose of work is to make money. In other words, their job is merely the means to an end (money) and not an end it itself. And why do they want money? Possessions. A new car, stereo, or home. If their only reason for working is to make money, they will soon resent their job for “interfering” with the pleasure of spending money and enjoying their possessions.

Our job is not a chore we need to do to get paid, but an opportunity for us to learn, contribute, grow, make friends, solve problems, overcome obstacles, and experience victories. When we see it for the opportunity it is, we will find our job exciting and have little time for idleness. Opportunities abound. They follow us. Whether we’re at home, in the office, or strolling in a park. Opportunities are the rays of sunshine that banish the shadows of laziness. No wonder lazy people appear to be asleep. They are in a stupor, unaware of the opportunities hovering around them. Busy people are aware, awake, and alive. So, instead of worrying whether I’ll go to hell after I die, I think I’ll start focusing on whether I’ll live before I die.


  1. I suffered lot from laziness at I didn’t even know that laziness was a sin now I’m worried bec I’ve been lazy alot in my life kinda worried weather I will go to hell
    For this

  2. Sloth has been in my mind lately alot. having lost my job ~ i keep wondering if i have not tried enough. Over the years I have been overcome by drug addiction, alcoholism, bullying, hate crimes etc etc Insomnia & Loneliness has been my TRIALS…i am always tired thus my credit has been destroyed , my life boring, having lost interest in Love as none have found me….feeling abandoned etc etc……I did work very hard ~ surrounded by so much jealousy ~ that I began to resent my gifts ~ natural charisma & charm etc etc….Now I have been in my apt for 2 months mopping and wondering what to do ~ I am at my wits end. I try to go to the gym , I am constantly on the internet researching the end times. Frought with either involving myself once again in the sensual World or awaiting the end times as seen everywhere ~ so I am at a lost what do I need to do ????

  3. Thank you for this article. I’ve been really considering the ways I have become lazy. I’d love to sit and meditate while questioning all of life. I act only long enough to try out what I have meditated upon. I think the more I learn to live in the moment, the less I will have to think about.

  4. Great article. I’m doing some soul searching this morning and using Google to help me sort things out. In reading “The Road Less Traveled” I came across the idea that we don’t grow spiritually because we are lazy. In my case, I could spend all day reading so that I do grow spiritually. I also spend a lot of time learning how to cook via online websites. My laziness takes the form of always learning, never doing. I can’t get motivated to clean bathrooms, go to the store, cook meals. It’s more exciting to learn how to do these things really well than to actually do the work, but I’m feeling so guilty and inadequate. I’ll try getting motivated to do some work this morning by thinking about what God thinks about my being lazy (Prov 6:9-11). This just might work! Thanks!

  5. I’m not sure if I should call myself lazy. *sigh* I had a job, but I was told by the manager to take some rest for a month because of my frequent absences (to rethink of my plans). Now, I want to work online. *grrr* I’m confused.

Leave a Comment