In this chapter we'll look at the problem of laziness and how we can deal with this sin in our lives.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
- Genesis 1:1
From the very first view we have of God we see Him doing something. In Genesis He is creating the universe.
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
- Genesis 1:27-28
In the first contact that God has with man we see God giving man his first command: to work, produce society and manage the creation. Note that the command to work comes before the command to not eat the forbidden fruit.
We see that from the very beginning God has required mankind to spend energy in work of one kind or another. Even after the "fall" God repeated the command that Adam must work (3:17), except that now, because of sin, his work would be less productive than before. It is interesting to note that neither Adam nor Eve were busy working at the time of the temptation by Satan.
Description of a Lazy Person - Dictionary
The dictionary describes laziness or the lazy person in this way: "..one who does not like to work; one who finds activity or effort distasteful." Let us examine this definition more closely:
1. Does not like that which requires physical or mental effort (work). What are some of the reasons for this attitude?
Immaturity – Some would rather play than work. Some people play and call it work thereby hiding their laziness in play activity or choose to do what requires the least effort.
Selfishness – Physical and mental effort require the giving of self, and a lazy person is basically a selfish one. This is the real problem: a lazy person loves himself too much to give any of himself away in work or service.
2. Laziness loves idleness.
Lazy people love inactivity, sleep, lounging and entertainment more than work. Anything that requires effort or the pain of giving is negative in their experience. Their happiness comes from self-indulgence and easy diversion rather than the satisfaction of accomplishment, effort or service.
Some might say, "This is my life and I can be lazy if I choose to." But the Bible paints another picture of laziness and the true character of the lazy person from God's perspective.
Description of a Lazy Person - Bible
1. A lazy person is wasteful
He also who is slack in his work
Is brother to him who destroys.
- Proverbs 18:9
The lazy person wastes his time, energy, talent and opportunities by not using, under using or improperly using them. Lazy people often invest time into things which are not work, just time fillers. Remember, they avoid work and replace it with activity they like. For example, the file clerk at a company I worked for before going into full-time ministry: she filled her day with busy work to avoid the job she had to do:
- Cleaned her desk
- Put stationary in order
- Talked on the phone
- Long breaks/lunch with pre-break routine
- Wrote birthday cards, shopping lists
She had her day scheduled with these so she could avoid real work as much as possible. She was insulted when asked to do more and requested an assistant. She was fired because her laziness caused her to waste the company's time and money. Lazy people are a burden because they waste other people's time and money since others have to work harder to make up for their laziness.
2. A lazy person is full of excuses
13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road!
A lion is in the open square!"
14 As the door turns on its hinges,
So does the sluggard on his bed.
- Proverbs 26:13-14
A lazy person is an expert at making excuses: why things should be done tomorrow; why things are not finished; why things are too hard, too far, too complicated, too much, etc.
The reason why a lazy person doesn't succeed is always someone or something else. Usually the lazy ones end up using all of their energy being jealous of others who succeed and blaming them for their own lack of success.
For the lazy person, an obstacle is something which will provide them with an excuse to avoid an effort of some kind. For a diligent person an obstacle is something that forces them to figure out another way of getting the job done.
3. A lazy person is wise in his own eyes
The sluggard is wiser in his own eyesThan seven men who can give a discreet answer.
- Proverbs 26:16
Lazy people know everything, they know all the answers, you can't tell them anything. But the truth of the matter is that lazy people avoid two things at all costs: effort and truth.
It's a vicious cycle. If they admit the truth (their problem is laziness) they will have to work (make an effort), and they don't like this. So the most effort they make is to avoid the truth.
The Danger of Laziness
Sins are sins because they can harm us in some way or another. Laziness presents a real danger to those who are guilty of this sin:
- Laziness leads to poverty – Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4; 19:15
Not just physical poverty but emotional and spiritual poverty as well. Lazy people make no effort for physical things so they won't do it for emotional or spiritual rewards as well.
- Laziness leads to shame – Proverbs 10:5; 26
A disordered life caused by laziness brings shame on those who depend on you. Those things that bring honor to a person come with effort. A distaste of making an effort brings the opposite: shame.
- Laziness leads to dissatisfaction – Proverbs 13:4
Eventually one's laziness robs that person of the many joys in life that others have. Lazy people who don't acknowledge the truth grow envious of others and depressed about their own condition.
- Laziness leads to slavery – Proverbs 12:24
Lazy people still want things but become indebted to others for them. It takes no effort to create debt, but lots of effort to pay them off. So not all poor people are lazy, but most lazy people end up being poor financially, emotionally and spiritually.
And this is not someone else's fault! It is not bad luck, lack of opportunity or talent. It is just plain laziness!
How to Deal with the Sin of Laziness
Enough about the sin itself, let's examine some ways to deal with it. No one is 100% lazy. It is one of the many sins that we all have to deal with at one time or another. Some are more prone to this sin just as some are more prone to anger or sexual sins. However, if this is the sin you struggle with here are some ways to effectively deal with it.
1. Acknowledge the truth
This is the hardest step for any sin - to actually admit that this one is true for us. Nothing that you need in order to help you change will come to you, or be given to you if you do not confess your fault first.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
- I John 1:8-10
The forgiveness for the sin itself and all that it has caused, plus the power to overcome it, begins here.
Once you acknowledge the hard truth about yourself you can begin to change. People don't usually change because they either don't know, don't believe or are in denial about the truth concerning themselves. However, if you accept that laziness is really a sin you're guilty of, here are three things you can actually think and do to bring about a meaningful change:
A. Recognize and accept that you have to work. That you work or make an effort to find work is God's will for you. You're happier and healthier when you obey His will in this matter.
B. Do it now! Don't put off until tomorrow what can be reasonably done now. Procrastination is the lazy man's effort at working. He sees the task and makes the effort to put it off until later, promising to work tomorrow. The effort will always be made, but in the future. When the future comes the effort is always rushed, at the last minute, sloppy and full of excuses.
Putting off is a habit. It needs to be replaced with a new habit: doing it now. This is true repentance. It requires faith to do things now and not wait until the time is right, or everything is perfect, or you feel like it. If it has to be done - do it now! Repentance from laziness means you have to work, and you should do things right away.
C. Have a Christian's attitude towards the work that you do. To care for your work and to do it well is a witness of your faith. The purpose of work is not just to counterbalance laziness or provide for our needs, but also to provide for others in need (Ephesians 4:28). We must remember that our work is an offering of service to God, not men (Colossians 3:22-24).
People without Christ see work as a means to an end. I work to produce wealth, power, comfort and satisfaction. Solomon says that here on earth, work is man's greatest source of comfort and joy (Ecclesiastes 2:24). But for the spiritual man or woman in Christ, work is much more than this. For them work is:
- A witness of an honorable life before society.
- An expression of love for one's family as well as those in need.
- A sincere offering of love and service to God in Christ.
A Christian can, in good conscience, achieve riches, power and satisfaction from work, but realizes that these things are not the objectives of work.
I've said that laziness is a difficult sin to conquer because it is not just a habit (like smoking), it is a character trait. Laziness is a dangerous sin because it can lead to the ruin of our lives and a loss of faith in God. Repentance is difficult, slow and painful, but can be done. True repentance requires:
- Admitting the truth.
- Beginning to do today today's things and not procrastinate.
- A change in attitude about work itself to a more Christian view in order to see it as:
- A witness of faith
- An act of love
- An effort at Godly service
If you repent in this way, God will bless and reward you richly.