by Paul Tautges | December 29, 2014 8:19 am
As a new year rapidly approaches, we think and hear non-stop messages about cranking up our motivation to change. We have a resolution for this and that, for everything except what we need most, that is, to think biblically about being motivated. Why should we be motivated to change? Why should we shun laziness and the reputation of being a sluggard whom no one can depend upon? The Bible is rich with counsel so that we will think biblically, see how seriously God views laziness, and experience change in and through Christ. Here’s a sampling of that counsel from pastor and counselor Adam Embry.
In Proverbs, the lazy man makes two main excuses. In fact, since he never works, he has plenty of time to conjure up excuses and talk about them. Charles Spurgeon said, “the slothful man is represented as having something to say, and I think that there are no people that have so much to say as those that have little to do. While nothing is done, much is talked about.” The lazy man’s first excuse is that he always needs to rest. In Proverbs 6:6–11 we hear how the lazy individual always needs a little nap; this person’s excuse for needing rest is really procrastination. You could imagine the individual saying today, “I’ll just hit the snooze button on my alarm clock a few more times.” Several more minutes’ sleep then turn into hours, which turn into a wasted day. In contrast to the lazy individual is the ant. Some Palestinian ants were known for storing up grain for the winter. Rather than conquering creation by working for God, we are lazy and must learn from one of the smallest creatures, the ant, who instinctively works hard without being told to do so.
The lazy man’s second excuse is that it’s just too risky heading off to work: The sluggard says, “there is a lion in the road!” (see Proverbs 26:13–16; compare 22:13). The unmotivated person thinks that the remote danger of a lion roaming the streets is a reason to avoid work. Now, lions typically didn’t roam the streets of Israel looking for an unmotivated person to devour. Here’s the logic in today’s world: “I can’t drive to work! People die in car accidents!” or, “I can’t go outside to work! I might get struck by lightning!” Work is too wearisome to engage in and so he or she makes more excuses.
The lazy person’s two excuses lead to five serious consequences.
These five consequences can be viewed from a different angle, as laziness negatively impacts our relationships with others (annoying/unhelpful), our well-being (poverty, unfinished tasks, unfulfilled desires), and our eternal destiny (death). The lazy individual’s excuses epitomize an obsessive, selfish care for him- or herself, a disregard for others, and disobedience toward God. “Idleness,” Spurgeon preached, “is selfishness, and this is not consistent with the love of neighbor, nor with any high degree of virtue.” Laziness, then, is a sin that dominates all of life and reflects disobedience to God’s law. It’s a curse we bring upon ourselves and our relationships that will ultimately kill us.
Slothfulness, like all other sins, is deceptive. We never think its consequences are catastrophic. It offers us ease and comfort, but it fails to deliver. Augustine noted this when he said, “Sloth poses as the love of peace: yet what certain peace is there besides the Lord?” As it is with every sin, the solution to fighting laziness is the good news of salvation the Lord brings.
(This brief summary of what the Bible teaches about laziness and its cure is from Adam Embry’s mini-book HELP! I Can’t Get Motivated.]
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