Proverbs: Laziness Vs. A Good Work Ethic — Cougan Collins

God’s Word reveals a lot about laziness. There is nothing wrong with occasionally being lazy to rest from our labors. Even Jesus took breaks from His ministry to relax. However, some abuse being lazy. Instead of resting from their labors, they rest from their rest, but God doesn’t want us to be like this.

For example, humans’ first job was gardening (Gen. 2:15). Of course, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were kicked out of the garden of Eden, and their light work turned into hard work, which was necessary to survive (Gen. 3:17-19).  From that point forward, there has always been work to do. Paul tells us we are supposed to work with our own hands (1 Thess. 4:10-12). He makes it clear that we are to work and not be lazy.  According to Paul, if they don’t work, don’t let them eat:

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.  For even when we were with you, we commanded you this:  If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.  For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, nor working at all, but are busybodies.  Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess. 3:7-13).

Paul also told Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).  These are strong words worthy of our attention because if we are lazy and will not provide for our families when we are capable of doing so, Paul says we have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. Think about that. A lazy Christian who will not work to provide for his own is considered worse than someone who doesn’t believe in God, which means laziness can keep us out of heaven.

Solomon had much to say about the lazy person:

“Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids.  Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.  Go to the ant, you sluggard!  Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.  How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep — so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Prov. 6:4-11).

“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov. 10:4).

“The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Prov. 12:24).

“The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession” (Prov. 12:27).

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Prov. 13:4).

“The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing” (Prov. 20:4).

“Do you see a man who excels in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men” (Prov. 22:29).

“I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Prov. 24:30-34).

“The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road!  A fierce lion is in the streets!’  As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.  The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.  The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (Prov. 26:13-16).

The Bible instructs us to have a good work ethic when laboring for others or the Lord.  Solomon said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl. 9:10).  Paul talked to the Colossians about the responsibilities of husbands, wives, children, and bondservants, and concluded by saying:  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col. 3:23-25).

When we work for others, we must do so with enthusiasm as if God is our boss.  As verse 24 says, we will receive the reward of the inheritance.  If we are lazy, we will be repaid for the wrong we have done.  We should also have a good work ethic when working for God in the kingdom.  As Paul said, we are to do works befitting repentance (Acts 26:20), and there should be no lack of diligence on our part (Rom. 12:11).

A great example of this comes from Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25. A master leaves three servants in charge while he is gone. He gives one servant five talents, another servant two, and the third got one. While he is gone, two servants get to work and double what they had, but the one talent man buried his and did nothing. When the master returned, which represents Christ’s final coming when we will give account for what we have done in the kingdom, two of the servants were faithful. They received their reward, representing the faithful Christians who have labored for the Lord and will enter heaven. However, the one talent man represents lazy Christians who don’t labor for the Lord and will not enter heaven. Notice what the master tells him:

“…You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have no scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:26-30).

We must not be lazy as Christians or use excuses of why we can’t serve the Lord.  Making excuses or being lazy will not get anything done, but it can cause you to suffer the same fate as the one talent man.  However, when we are diligent workers, we bring glory and honor to God (Matt. 5:16).

So let us never give up working for the Lord, knowing that our work is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

P.S. — Please note that this article is not about those who cannot work due to physical or mental limitations.

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