By Mike Willis
One of the dangers of modem life is rearing children to be lazy. Living in the suburbs, there are no cows to milk, wood to chop, and gardens to hoe; dishes are done by a dishwasher, clothes are washed by a washer and dried by a drier. Consequently, many young people are reared without good work habits. They are taught to waste their time watching TV, listening to records, and going to recreational outings. Anytime some are told to do something, a howl of protest is registered.
Many who have been reared without good work habits have become adults with no ambition, willing to live on welfare. Others hold jobs but have an attitude of “the company owes me a living.” Corporate production is low and the cost of goods increases. Some national woes could be cured by good work habits.
Laziness Is A Sin
God condemns laziness as a sin (cf. Matt. 25:25). The book of Proverbs uses approximately thirty-three verses to condemn laziness. Apparently, God saw laziness as a danger facing young people.
Things Which Keep People From Working
There are many reasons people will not work. The book of Proverbs calls our attention to these:
1. Too much sleep. “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” (Prov. 6:9-11). “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Prov. 26:14; cf. 19:15; 20:13). Some young people are allowed to sleep late in the morning, drag themselves to the TV, and lay around all day long. When night comes, they are ready to party.
2. Too much talking. The wise man called attention to the tendency of wasting one’s time talking when he wrote, “In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury” (Prov. 14:23). When some are left with a job to do, they do not get the job done because they have wasted their time talking, whether on the phone or person to person.
3. No motivation. Some have no motivation to work; they have no ambition (cf. Prov. 19:24; 26:15). Why should some be motivated? Their parents buy them any and everything they want. They have never learned to earn anything. Hence, they learn to wait for someone to hand it to them on a silver platter.
4. Procrastination. “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow” is the motto of lazy people.
The Traits of A Lazy Person
1. He is full of excuses. “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason” (Prov. 26:16). For every reason that you can give him to do a job, he can give you two for not doing it. He may say, “It is too cold (or hot) to work” (cf. Prov. 20:4), although everyone else is working in the same weather. He will decline working for fear of being hurt (cf. Prov. 22:13; 26:13), although the chances of him being injured are remote.
2. He wastes what he has. “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious” (Prov. 12:27). The lazy man will not even take care of what he has. His laziness will allow even what he has to deteriorate. “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down” (Prov. 24:30-31). “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster” (Prov. 18:9).
The Natural Fruits Of Laziness
1. Laziness brings poverty (Prov. 6:11; 24:33-34). “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Prov. 10:4-5). “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing” (Prov. 13:4; cf. 19:15; 20:4; 23:21).
2. Laziness puts one under tribute. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute” (Prov.12:24). Those who work hard prosper and move into positions of authority; those who are lazy become poor and move into positions of subordination.
3. Laziness leads to unfulfilled desires. “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not” (Prov. 21:24-25). Just because a man is lazy and poor does not mean that he doesn’t want anything; it simply means that he cannot buy what he wants. Consequently, he is dissatisfied because of his unfulfilled desires. Uncle Remus said, “Lazy folks’ stummocks don’t git tired.”
The Consequences of Laziness
1. Shame. “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Prov. 10:5). Who can be proud of a lazy son?
2. Obnoxious to others. “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him” (Prov. 10:26). A man who hires an employee who is lazy will find him to be obnoxious and soon will fire him.
3. Gossip. Those who have nothing to do tend to waste their time talking about things they shouldn’t (1 Tim. 5:13).
The Virtues Of Diligence
In contrast to being lazy, the wise man instructed men to be diligent in their work. Here are some of the things said about the diligent worker:
1. His is self-disciplined. “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” (Prov. 6:6-8). The ant works without a boss watching his every move. So does a diligent man.
2. His desires motivate him. “He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him” (Prov. 16:26). He sees something that he wants, so he works in order to obtain it.
3. He comes to prosperity (Prov. 10:4). The natural fruit of hard work is prosperity. The worker who produces is generally paid more, given more raises, and advanced in position more often than the lazy worker.
4. Has good mental health.
“Work brings its own relief;
He who most idle is
Has most of grief”
(Ironquill, Today, via Familiar Quotations, John Bartlett, editor, p. 791a).
“An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop.”
Rather than looking at work as if it were a curse from God, we need to understand that it was a part of God’s original plan and will for man (cf. Gen. 2:15 – man was to dress and keep the garden of Eden prior to the curse which sin brought). We are privileged to have a job, to be able to earn a living, and to do something productive.
One of the methods of punishing the criminal is to put him in a prison where he has nothing to do day after day. This is punishment, not a bed of ease. To be able to work is a blessing which God has given to us. We should consider ourselves fortunate that we are not physically or mentally disabled to the point that we cannot have a job.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 18, pp. 546, 567
September 17, 1987