Sloth

This period of being indefinitely confined to one’s home has forced many of us away from our familiar busy schedules, especially for those of us whose exams have been cancelled. We are now given the opportunity to do things we typically don’t have the time for. To upgrade ourselves via online courses. To work on projects that we are interested in. Maybe, to read some new books (Bible or otherwise). Or perhaps, to do some indoor exercise and get that body shape we always wanted. By putting this valuable window to good use, we are sure to emerge from confinement a better, stronger person.

That’s what I tell myself, at least.

Now, more than a month since the end of Lent term and the mass exodus from Cambridge, my wisdom and knowledge have stagnated while my waist enthusiastically expands. For all the claims of productivity I convince myself with, my attempts at doing any form of work have been replaced by computer games, watching YouTube videos, browsing of social media and a delusion that there is always time tomorrow. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus talked about the parable of talents, where three servants are each given some amount of talents (1 talent = approx 36 kg of silver) and assessed by the amount of profit they made using it. Looking back, I am easily in danger of being counted as the wicked and slothful servant, who buried the talent he received and did nothing with it.

All over the news, I see rising death tolls, increasing measures of social distancing and eulogies for a crashing economy. Indeed, these are difficult times for many facing loss of jobs and hospitalisation of loved ones. For them, taking it easy in the productivity aspect is probably warranted. However, God has also been kind to a good number of us, who can weather this pandemic with relatively little worry for food or shelter, giving us excellent conditions to make the most of this period and achieve something. Yet, my output is disproportionate to what I am given, as described well in Proverbs 21:25 “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labour.”

Throughout the Bible, the servants of God, from the prophets to the apostles, laboured day and night, despite facing circumstances uglier than anything we see today. Jesus Himself worked hard for the short thirty-odd years He was on earth. Although He has nowhere to lay his head and faced repeated persecution, Jesus ministered tirelessly without complaint. If being Christian means to follow Jesus, then we mustn’t neglect emulating His work ethic in difficult times. Our work might constitute preparing a Bible sharing, or finishing a course assignment, or finishing a project. Whether or not the work is overtly Christian in nature, we are encouraged to work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that we are ambassadors of Christ and our every action has the potential to glorify Him.

Therefore, while the world may be at a standstill due to Covid-19, our minds should not be. I have seen many positive examples amongst us – fellow students running online campaigns ranging from charity fundraisers to free tuition for the less fortunate. Our alumnus, Isaac Newton, supposedly developed calculus during the university’s closure due to the Great Plague in 1665. These great role models push us to be the good and faithful servant of the Lord, to be steadfast and diligent in our work. With all this time on our hands, now is the chance to perhaps finish up unfinished projects, participate in online social ventures, do some bible study or learn some new skills.

As for me, I probably should stop procrastinating and get back to work.

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