By Randy Harshbarger

The work ethic is certainly a part of Bible teaching. God intended for man to be busily engaged in meaningful labor. Adam and Eve were given the responsibility to “dress and keep” the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Paul says that when we labor we should remember that we are working “unto the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23). If a man will not work he should not be allowed to eat (2 Thess. 3:7-10). Jesus was not a lazy person. John 9:4 says: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:: the night cometh, when no man can work.” While the emphasis of this verse is primarily spiritual, one could not meet with the crowds, instruct the apostles, and confront many enemies, if he were a lazy person. Our Lord felt compelled to do what had to be done and he did not wait until he “felt like working” or until “everything was just right.” Consider a few admonitions from Proverbs about this Bible subject.

Proverbs 6:6-11: Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 19:15: Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

Proverbs 12:24: The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs: 18:9: He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

Proverbs 21:25: The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor.

Proverbs 22:13: The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

What can we learn from these verses? First, we can learn how to work from watching others. The sluggard needs to consider the industry of the ant. The ant labors incessantly to provide for himself. The sluggard stays in bed too long. Second, laziness breeds more laziness. Many get used to the ideal of not working and like it. Third, the lazy man will always be under the control of others. When he makes no effort to provide for himself and his own, he becomes subject to the control of others. Fourth, to be lazy is to waste one’s life and opportunities that God has given. We must be good stewards of these blessings (1 Cor. 4:2). Fifth, the lazy man sits around all day dreaming about gold and silver and gets nothing; the industrious man gets busy and does something. Sixth, if you do not want to work any excuse is good enough!

Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 22, p. 676
November 19, 1992