What is lollygagging? This strange word has come to mean wasting time, idling, dawdling, trifling, loitering, etc., primarily to avoid work or some other undesirable activity. No one really knows the origin of this term, but some have traced it to mid-nineteenth century America. Regardless of its origin, lollygagging is an ancient practice that is addressed frequently in the Bible, although not by that name.
The book of Proverbs is especially strong in its denunciations of laziness and lollygagging. It commends the clear, righteous, and godly alternative to lollygagging, which is work, diligence, and industry. Consider a few of its messages on this matter:
These are just a small sample of all the Proverbs concerning laziness and diligence. Other Proverbs pertaining to this issue are 6:6-11; 10:4-5, 26; 12:11, 24, 27; 13:4; 14:4; 15:19; 16:26; 19:15, 24; 20:4; 21:17, 25-26; 22:29; 24:27, 30-34; 26:14-15; 27:18, 23-27. After you have read all of these, you will get the point. Lollygagging over necessary work is wrong, and it will be punished.
The book of Proverbs is not the only book of the Bible that warns us against lollygagging. Consider the book of Ecclesiastes, which states, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going" (Eccl. 9:10). Notice how this verse leaves no place for even half-hearted effort, but rather it demands a full application of our strength to the work we have to do. It has been said that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and God's word confirms this. This particular message from God's word also gives us a potent motivation for giving a full effort in whatever we do, which is the looming reality of death. Our time in this world is severely limited (Ps. 90:10; John 9:4; Jas. 4:14), and there will be no time to finish or redo our work when we go to the grave.
In Colossians 3:22-25, the apostle Paul wrote an instruction for slaves that has applications for all of us concerning diligence in our work. Consider this passage:
This passage, along with its companion
passage in Ephesians 6:5-8, warns us against the practice of
So then, what kind of effort will you give? Do you do with your might whatever your hand finds to do? Are you guilty of eye-service and man-pleasing? Obviously, lollygagging about necessary and required work is not a commendable practice, and it is one that all Christians should put away. Especially when it is concerning the work of the Lord, Christians must work with great effort and sincerity, for our Master is coming at a time when we will not expect Him (Matt. 24:45-51). "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" (1Cor. 15:58).
Stacey E. Durham
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