The Sin of Sloth

The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Prov. 21:25).

- Proverbs 21:25–26; 26:13–16

When many people envision Paradise, they picture Adam and Eve living a life of luxury and ease. Such a vision is not faithful to the biblical account of our first parents before their expulsion from Eden. Genesis 2:15 reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” This word, to work (or to till), carries with it the connotation of industry and diligence. Man was not made to be idle but to employ his talents and gifts faithfully and diligently. Work itself is not a result of the Fall. The curse of the fall has made man’s work more difficult, and his flesh rails against it. The solution is not to long for a life of ease but to put one’s hand to the plow, to refrain from laziness, and to be diligent in one’s calling.

While all poverty is not due to negligence and laziness, much is. The Bible says, “If a man does not work, he will not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). But how many in our society expect to eat when they are unwilling to work? The consequences of such laziness affects not only the individual, but entire communities and nations. Diligence in work not only advances an individual but a whole society. It frees people from ungodly dependence on others; whereas, laziness enslaves people and brings them to the lowest point in society. “ ‘He is perpetually needing counsel of others, and hanging upon it,’ ” Bridges wrote of the sluggard. “In the grand concern, he is the slave of his own lust; in the worst service, under the most degrading tyranny; ‘wicked’ because ‘slothful,’ and ‘cast out and condemned as an unprofitable servant’ (Matt. 25:26–30).” If a sluggard claims to be a Christian, his laziness casts a shadow on the blessed name of Christ. His testimony to the culture brings ridicule on Christianity in general. But how contrary is the testimony of an industrious and diligent person. What glory can you bring to the name of Christ as you work with commitment and diligence under the scrutiny of unbelievers? Live, then, in such a way that your commitment to hard work will cause others to praise God in heaven. Likewise, teach your children to despise laziness and find satisfaction and joy in work, so that a generation may be raised to the glory and praise of God.

Coram Deo

Make specific changes in your life to fight laziness. This can include your vocation, physical exercise, and spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, attendance at worship, and service. If you have children, establish guidelines for housework, school work, and spiritual exercise to help them overcome laziness.

Passages for Further Study

Proverbs 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 18:9; 19:24
Ecclesiastes 10:18

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