The Sin Of Laziness

Brent Lewis

YOU MAY BE SURPRISED TO find the number of times the Bible treats the subject of laziness. The book that instructs us about righteousness of character has nothing complimentary to say about indolence. The honor of hard work is extolled by the Scriptures and the shame of laziness is made equally clear. Christians are observed by others. The work ethic of a jaded society must not become the standard for God's child.

God calls the lazy man a "sloth" (Proverbs 12:27) and a "sluggard" (6:6). Webster says a sloth means "disinclination to action or labor" and that sluggish means "indisposed to exertion." Some people are in want because of circumstances beyond their control; such people deserve the assistance of others, including God's people (Ephesians 4:28). Other people are in want because they are "indisposed to exertion" and they deserve no help from anyone. The wise man says of the sluggard, "So shall thy poverty come as a robber, and thy want as an armed man" (Proverbs 6:11). What should be the fate of the man who can, but will not, exert himself -- who continually says, "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands" (6:10)? He is entitled to every bit of the poverty he has earned.

Sleep is the major occupation of the sluggard. "Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and the idle shall suffer hunger" (Proverbs 19:15). "As the door turneth upon its hinges, so doth the sluggard in his bed" (26:14). His excuses for not working are novel, if not logical. But then it doesn't take much of an excuse for one who is lazy. It's either too cold to get out ("The sluggard will not plow by reason of the winter," (Proverbs 20:4) or too dangerous ("The sluggard saith: There is a lion without; I shall be slain in the streets," 22:13) or too something else.

The results of laziness are obvious. Many people's lives and surroundings are in shambles, simply because they will not get up and do something about it. Solomon says, "I went by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, the face thereof was covered with nettles, and the stone wall thereof was broken down" (Prov 24:30-31). Lazy people may have their house falling in around them, their yard grown waist-high in weeds, their children ill-clothed and ill fed -- yet they will merely keep watching TV. Such people are not only undeserving of any help, but the Bible teaches that we sin if we help them. Jesus called the slothful man in Matthew 25:24-26 a wicked man (in spite of his excuses) and Paul said, "This we command you, if any will not work, neither let him eat" (1 Thess 3:10).

What passage will we cite as justification for helping such a person? He deserves no help; let him starve. Solomon said, "By slothfulness the roof sinketh in, and through idleness of the hands the house leaketh" (Ecc 10:18). Paul said, "But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8).

The lazy man is his own worse enemy. He misses one of life's richest experiences -- the satisfaction of a job well done. "The desire of the sluggard killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor" (Prov 21:25). It kills his spirit and his self-respect; how can he have any? And it actually kills him a day at a time, for he has no worthwhile purpose for living. An indolent man is a dead man who can't be legally buried.

I don't know what it would take to get some people to go to work. Our society seems to endow laziness. Maybe we should threaten to shoot all who are able, but unwilling to work. The public would never agree to that. But it seems that some need the threat of dire circumstances to stir them to activity. Like the jockey who always whispered to his horse before the race: "Roses are red, violets are blue; horses that lose are made into glue." Perhaps something like that would do it.

One thing is for sure. Those who are Christians must determine to be productive, responsible disciples of Christ in every area of their lives. They must be, as Paul said to the Romans, "in diligence not slothful" (Romans 12:11).

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