Sloths Are Not Slothful

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and the negligent soul shall suffer hunger. – Proverbs 19:15

As the slowest of mammals, sloths move so little that algae can grow on their fur, giving it a greenish tint that allows them to blend into trees perfectly. Long claws allow them to hang high on branches, which is lucky since they could never escape a predator on the ground. Amazingly, sloths can eat, sleep, and even give birth while hanging in trees. If this doesn’t make you believe in a creator God, then I don’t know what will. No “research and design team” could come up with that!

You can see why scientists in the 1600’s named this chill animal “sloth,” after the deadly sin most commonly associated with laziness. But it turns out sloths are not really lazy. They’re quite efficient given the weak fuel they put into their awkward bodies. It can take sloths an entire month to complete their digestion process. That’s why they have such large tummies and low activity levels. Those slow digesting leaves in their stomachs account for two thirds of their body weight.

So don’t blame the sloth for being slow. In fact, don’t even accuse a sloth of being slothful. Turns out they’re just doing the best they can with what they have. Come to think of it, that may account for a lot of “slothful” people too.

It’s easy to look down on someone’s lack of activity from a distance. But next time you’re tempted to do that, how about you try doing this instead? Try giving birth while hanging from a tree by your toe nails. And then come tell me who’s lazy.


Creator of all Creatures, thank you for feeding our various needs at our various speeds.

Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion

16177.jpg About the Author
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.