Digging a hole is work. When we read the Gospels, we imagine that ancient Israel is always hot—except during Christmas. If you are hiding money, like this third slave does, you want to dig a deep hole. The ground is hard. Shovels are heavy. This man who is digging deeply is sweating buckets.
His obstacle in this story is not laziness, but apathy. Sloth, the sixth deadly sin, goes by the Latin term acedia, “without care.” The problem with the third slave is that he does not care. He is working hard to find the easiest option. He digs a hole because he is terrible with money and thinks this is safe.
Sunday is not a good day for a lesson on needing to work more like slaves. Some of us feel a religious obligation to take a nap on Sunday. How is this a helpful story for ministers whose weekend starts on Sunday at noon?
The way to read this parable without feeling defensive is to recognize that the money the third slave hid was not his to hide. This story is a warning when we think that we have done our duty by merely keeping what we have been given. We need to give God what is due to God.
When we realize that everything is God’s, we are free to think more generously. Taking a nap on Sunday does not make us lazy any more than being at the office all of the time makes us hard-working. We can lie on the couch and think the best of an unpopular person instead of what others think. We can forgive a snarky comment instead of nurturing our anger. We can pray for a week of sharing the gifts we have been given.
What gifts would you share if you cared more?
God, forgive me when I choose the easiest option because it is easy. Teach me to love more. Amen.