“Work is always healthier for us than idleness; it is always better to wear out shoes than sheets.”
~ C. H. Spurgeon
Issues of laziness are inevitable in a world steeped in seeking instant gratification. It is a matter that, as with all things, is best addressed by seeking counsel from the Word of God. While little might be wrong with instant coffee, snacks, etcetera, harm awaits anyone who would attempt to copy-paste such an idea of convenience into real life. Nothing is instant about our daily living. Whoever supposes the opposite to be true will soon start having an attitude of laziness that is not agreeable to any society–even the heathen societies that care less for the glory of God.
As believers, we need to remind ourselves of critical truths regarding this matter and how the Bible challenges and rebukes us to walk away from the vice of laziness.
What is Laziness?
Laziness is the lack of desire to engage in meaningful and necessary duties. It is to be idle while there is work to be done; to shun away and refuse to expend energy on the things put under our care. It is the extreme opposite of rest.
What is Rest?
Rest is to cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength. Rest does not make sense when work is absent. Naturally, our bodies and minds get tired after engaging in some work. We think while we work and use our bodies as well. When these are not used, there is no need to think about resting.
In the Beginning
In Genesis 1, we are introduced to a working God. Scripture says that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). To create is to make something from nothing. In physics, work is defined as force plus distance, and for God to do all that he did, he wasn’t just sitting there doing nothing. Now, we know that God, in His sovereignty, spoke, and things came into existence. Some may say, Well, there is no work done there. He only needed to talk (Genesis 1:1-25). But that is far from the truth. It was work enough for God to bring forth by speech into existence things that never existed before.
On the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-27), God created the living creatures according to their kinds; livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth. After this, he created man in his image and likeness. m
Man was the only creature God made using his hands, as recorded in Genesis 2:7. He took the soil from the ground, created Adam, and breathed the breath of life into him. So we see that, in the beginning, God set forth the example for working.
Secondly, we see at the beginning that God passes over the responsibility of work to his creation-man. The ground is said to have needed some work, but there was no man to work it (Genesis 2:5). Ten verses later, God puts man in the garden to work it and keep it. Therefore, we cannot ignore the responsibility bestowed upon man to be a worker by God. We can define work as taking care of God’s things under our supervision–and they are many!
For example, my family is under my supervision as a father, and their needs are my responsibility. My work, education, business, siblings, and body are under my care. It means I am responsible to God for all he has placed at my feet.
Since Eden and after the fall, man’s responsibility is to care for what God has given him. There is no room for us to assume a lazy outlook in life even with this basic reasoning. Eve came to help Adam accomplish the mandate placed upon him by the Lord God. Therefore, both men and women are called to be workers, one way or the other. Thomas Brooks says, “By doing nothing, men learn to do evil things. It is easy slipping out of an idle life into evil and wicked life. Yes, an idle life is evil, for man was made to be active, not idle. Idleness is a mother sin, a breeding sin; it is the devil’s cushion-–on which he sits; and the devil’s anvil-–on which he frames very great and very many sins.”
Scriptural Warnings Against Laziness
Because work is central to the furtherance of God’s kingdom, Scripture is not silent about the vice of laziness. In it, we find cautions and even possible and definite consequences of living a lazy life:
Poverty and Shame
“He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” Proverbs 10:4-5.
Besides natural circumstances, poverty is an overflow of a lazy mind and body. When we refuse to work with our hands, we send ourselves down the lazy street, and there is nothing there to be gained except shame and regret. When we are lazy, we deny our minds to expand and think through ideas around us that can make our lives better (Proverbs 14:23, 24:30-32).
Hunger and Deep Sleep
“Laziness casts one into a deep sleep,
And an idle person will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 19:15.
Scripture tells us that the Lord gives sleep to those he loves (Psalm 127:2). When Solomon laments the vanity that accompanies man’s toil (Ecclesiastes 2:22), he should not be misjudged as being anti-work. Instead, he bemoans the idolizing of work which will always leave us empty. Work is a blessing from God, and sleep for the obedient worker a gift from a loving God (Psalm 127:2). Laziness produces a different kind of sleep; the kind that leads to further unproductiveness rather than refresh. Whoever would be lazy ends up suffering hunger. There is something around us that we can do to help get a slice of bread and a pint of water or milk.
Delusions and Procrastination
“The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” Proverbs 22:13.
A delusional mind paints a good picture of the narratives of lazy people. Solomon says that this person goes as far as claiming that there is a lion outside. If you have sat with lazy people, you have likely been treated to stories that make no sense. They find reasons for qualifying their actions, most of which are tales. They will do so as long as possible to avoid doing the work they were meant to do.
Dismissal and Dishonour
Jesus never gave room to those that love a lazy lifestyle (Matthew 25:14-30). Three men were given varying talents, but one decided against multiplying his and buried it in the ground instead. He earned the wrath of his master, who ordered that the talent be taken away from him and that he be thrown into the place of utter darkness, away from others.
No one trusts a lazy person because there is so much loss with them. Nothing in their hands prospers. If we love laziness, we must be reminded that our dismissal and dishonour are nearer than we think.
Challenge for the Lazy Minded
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” -Proverbs 6:6–8.
iny though these creatures be, ants offer us some of the most valuable lessons against laziness. A few obvious ones are:
- Be wise – Part of practising wisdom is knowing how to manage our time. Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16 that we need to make the most of our opportunities. Take time and plan through matters and get busy. Be wise.
- Possess initiative – Do not be used to working because someone is watching. That is lazy and out of order. Ants have no leader, yet they plan themselves correctly and without fail. Every ant understands that its contribution is vital for the safety, health and wellbeing of the whole colony. So they all get working. Therefore, know what needs to be done and do it, not waiting to be supervised.
- Plan strategically – Do not wait till trouble comes, then spring to action. Read the signs and learn the seasons, then prepare in advance. Anticipation helps our minds to plan forward and mitigate failure and other emergencies. Ants know the seasons, yet they use no calendar. How much more do we who have an education and are made in the image and likeness of God? Surely, we can do better.
The End of the Matter
Laziness goes against the character of God. Man is made in the image of God and ought to always reflect God’s nature. God is a worker, and Jesus said as much (John 5:17). We are here on earth as stewards of the gifts of God, and he expects that we, like good servants, will multiply them (Matthew 25) and be glad in them. Paul said that the lazy man who does not work should not eat either (2 Thessalonians 3:10). So arise and refuse to be a lazy soul.