What does the Bible say about laziness?
Question: "What does the Bible say about laziness?"
Answer: Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion tends to remain in motion, and an object at rest tends to remain at rest. This law applies to people. While some are naturally driven to complete projects, others are apathetic, requiring motivation to overcome inertia! Laziness, a lifestyle for some, is a temptation for all.
The lazy mind thinks, “Just five more minutes on this computer game, and then I’ll do those dishes”, “My boss won’t notice whether or not I do my best work”, “Someone else will do it.” Lazy people spend more time making up excuses than the time it would take to complete a project. Because their greatest concern is their own comfort, they are energy-stealers and time-wasters. After all, being entertained is more exciting than showing hospitality; being in debt is easier than paying the bills; and being overweight is more acceptable than exercising and dieting. They have an aversion to work.
Is work a punishment for sin? No. Although sin’s curse made man’s labor difficult (Genesis 3:23), God designed work for man before the fall (Genesis 2:15). Because the Lord, who is a working God, ordained work for man, laziness is sin.
Laziness Described in Proverbs:
A lazy person hates work.
(Proverbs 21:25) “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.”
A lazy person loves sleep.
(Proverbs 26:14) “As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.”
A lazy person gives excuses.
(Proverbs 26:13) “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!’”
A lazy person becomes a servant (or debtor).
(Proverbs 12:24) “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”
A lazy person strains relationships.
(Proverbs 10:26) “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.”
A lazy person wastes time and energy.
(Proverbs 18:9) “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great waster.”
A lazy person overlooks creation’s example.
(Proverbs 6:6) “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.”
A lazy person believes he is wise.
(Proverbs 26:16) “The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.”
A lazy person seeks comfort.
(Proverbs 20:4) “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.”
A lazy person may come to poverty.
(Proverbs 13:4) “The soul of the lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
Laziness and the Christian:
A new believer is truthfully taught that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But a believer can become idle if he erroneously believes that God expects no fruit from a transformed life. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Slothfulness violates God’s purpose – good works. The Lord, however, empowers Christians to overcome the flesh’s propensity to laziness.
Christians are a new creation.
(Ephesians 4:28) “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
Christians show their faith by their works.
(James 2:18, 26) “. . . I will show you my faith by my works. . . . For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Christians are workers with God.
(1 Corinthians 3:9a) “For we are God’s fellow workers.”
Christians will reap reward for well-doing.
(Galatians 6:9-10) “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
(Colossians 3:23-24) “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.”
Christians’ labors of love are remembered by God.
(Hebrews 6:10) “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name. . . .”
Christians should discipline the lazy.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10-15) “. . . If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not 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. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Christians should work to meet basic needs.
(Acts 20:34-35) “Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Christians should provide for their own household.
(1 Timothy 5:8) “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.”
Christians should labor in God’s strength to evangelize and disciple.
(Colossians 1:28-29) “[Christ] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
Because God ordained work for man, laziness is sin. Even in heaven, Christians’ service to Him will continue, although no longer encumbered by the curse (Revelation 22:3). Free from sickness, sorrow, and sin – even laziness – the saints will glorify the Lord forever. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Recommended Resource: Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot by Max Lucado.
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What does the Bible say about laziness?