The Consequences of Laziness
The book of Proverbs is an intensely practical book. It reminds us that a godly life is lived out in the everyday events of our journey. As Derek Kidner writes, “Its function in Scripture is to put godliness into working clothes.” In many ways, Solomon’s writings are both immensely profitable and distinctly uncomfortable.
One lesson that Proverbs teaches us is the consequences of laziness. The biblical text uses the word “sluggard” to refer to a lazy person. It’s not a contemporary word, but it is a suitable word—one that describes a habitually inactive person whose lifestyle is framed by indolence and dormancy.
The sluggard, we learn, is hinged to his bed (Proverbs 26:14). This could mean that the person rises from bed after lunchtime or simply that they make little or no progress in their daily work. They don’t like to be approached directly or to be held accountable. When asked, “Will you do this?” they resent the follow-up question: “When are you planning to do it?”—or, in the words of Proverbs 6:9, “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” They never actually refuse to do anything, but they put off tasks bit by bit. They deceive themselves into thinking that they’ll “get around to it,” but minute by minute, they allow opportunity to quietly slip away.
In Proverbs 12:27, Solomon also tells us that “whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” In other words, a lazy person does not finish what they start. But we, as followers of Christ, are called to a kind of perseverance that, as we work unto the Lord, will reap a harvest in due season if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9). As we remain accountable in Christian community, we can help each other see our blind spots so that the excuses we make for our lazy behaviors don’t become larger issues of self-indulgence.
The real tragedy of the sluggard’s life is that laziness is not an infirmity but a sin. Contemporary culture drives many on a quest for an overabundance of so-called leisure. But believers can set a radically different example. God created us to work with a purpose: that we may let our light shine before others so that they may see our good works and give glory to our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16). The best adventure you can have is found along the pathway of goodness and duty. The greatest reward is not in leisure and ease and ducking out but in giving and giving and not holding back. How will that shape your approach to your day, and your tasks, today?
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
6Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
9How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
12A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
13winks with his eyes, signals3 with his feet,
points with his finger,
14with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
15therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
16There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
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