Modern conveniences have made life so easy for Americans that many have become lazy both physically and spiritually. Americans do not have to work nearly as hard for the basic necessities of life as those who lived in past generations, and this has resulted in the loss of a work ethic. Consequently, many have become unwilling to make the efforts needed to obtain those things that still require hard work, such as wisdom, knowledge, and righteousness. The modern generation wants to watch rather than to read, to receive rather than to earn, to look good rather than to be good, and to get a degree rather than to get an education. These are the marks of a lazy society, and they portend a terrible future for this nation.
The book of Proverbs is filled with admonitions against laziness. These passages expose the folly of laziness and the damaging effects that laziness has, especially on the lazy person himself. In most cases, the temporal applications of these passages are immediately apparent, but let us focus on the spiritual applications, for the effect of spiritual laziness is spiritual ruin.
First, let us consider the spiritually lazy person’s condition. He is starved for sustenance because he refuses to work for the spiritual food he needs (Prov. 19:15; 20:4), which is the word of God (Matt. 4:4; 1Pet. 2:1-3). So many people have Bibles sitting on their shelves collecting dust while they go about in ignorance and spiritual starvation. They are like the sluggard of Proverbs 19:24, who “buries his hand in the dish, and will not even bring it back to his mouth.” Unless someone spoon-feeds them, they will not learn of God’s word, and they will die, even though the truth was theirs for the taking. They are unlike the busy ant, which does not need someone to tell it to work for its food, but does so in order to live (Prov. 6:6-11). Instead, they sit by idly, starving for the word of God, but too lazy to feed the hunger they do not perceive.
Inwardly, a spiritually lazy person convinces himself that he is justified in his laziness. He sees his laziness as a virtue, for “the sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer” (Prov. 26:16). He does not work like others because he thinks he is smarter than they are (“I’ll work smarter, not harder”). Moreover, he makes excuses for his laziness, indicating that work will somehow be a hazard to him (Prov. 22:13; 26:13). Nevertheless, despite his refusal to work, the sluggard craves the fruits of labor without making the efforts (Prov. 21:25-26). His sense of entitlement leads him to believe falsely that he will receive the blessings that rightfully belong to those who diligently work for them.
Finally, a spiritually lazy person will suffer the ruin of his own soul while immeasurably damaging others as well. His failure to work not only results in no progress on his part, but it also impedes the progress of others. He becomes a burden and a hindrance. “He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys” (Prov. 18:9). In a similar passage, Solomon wrote, “Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks” (Eccl. 10:18). Therefore, the sluggard’s end will be punishment – “The slack hand will be put to forced labor” (Prov. 12:24). Like the lazy steward in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the spiritually lazy person will not be able to account to His Master for his failure to work, and he will be cast into outer darkness.
Therefore, let us be diligent to work “for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). Notice 1Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” This charge leaves no room for spiritual laziness and promises no reward for the spiritual sluggard. Hence, we must take advantage of the opportunity and the talents that God has given us while we can, for “night is coming, when no man can work” (John 9:4).
Stacey E. Durham
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