October 10 Laziness Robs Others of Benefits
“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys….The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.” (Proverbs 18:9; 21:25-26)
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who believes that he or she is truly lazy, except for honest Christians who admit to the sins of omission, which is true for all of us. However, Proverbs’ biblical view of laziness is slothfulness—the refusal to work appropriately, as we are commanded or the covetousness that leads to a belief in personal entitlement. Only people can be lazy. Machines can cease to function and are said to be broken; computers and devices that don’t work need to be updated. I guess a lazy person can be said to be both—broken and in need of new software. When a car doesn’t start, it’s driver and passengers are inconvenienced, lacking the transportation they need. When our devices are not up-to-date some of the apps don’t work, so we can’t do our online banking or email a family member or friend.
When a lazy person doesn’t work, that individual isn’t the only one affected. Proverbs 18:9 states that someone who is slack is just like someone who destroys things. Not working deprives a person of the income needed for his life, but it also robs others of the profits they may earn from his purchases or the gifts he might otherwise give to some. “Americans have become lazy, argues economist Tyler Cowen…They don’t start businesses as much as they once did. They don’t move as often as they used to. And they live in neighborhoods that are about as segregated as they were in the 1960s. All of this is causing the U.S. to stagnate economically and politically, Cowen says in his new book: ‘The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.’ Growth is far slower than it was in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and productivity growth is way down, despite everyone claiming they are working so hard. Innovation is painful. That’s why we don’t do more of it.” (1)
Proverbs 21:25 makes the shocking assertion that the one who doesn’t work is killing herself. John Gill says, “The desire of the slothful kills him…because he cannot have what he desires, being unwilling to work for them, it frets and vexes him to death, or puts him upon unlawful methods to obtain them, which bring him to a shameful death.” (2) In our day, it is not easy for a lazy person to starve to death; there are homeless shelters, roadside collections, and social agencies caring for many who are not working, either legitimately or illegitimately. I am no judge of who is deserving and who isn’t. I’m just saying that it’s an issue, as this college student admits, “The biggest reason our generation is considered lazy is because many of us act very entitled…like we deserve everything without working for it. We were raised in a time when discipline was starting to ease up and things were just handed to us. This has created many problems for our generation because we do not like when something does not go our way or we do not get something we desperately want…We are a lazy generation and that is partially our own fault for not exploring other possibilities of ways to handle the world as we grew up.” (3)
Laziness is a real issue, and not just for the younger generations. There are retired folk around who do much that is productive, to benefit others, as described in Proverbs 21:26. But there are just as many who spend their time relaxing and “enjoying the life they are entitled to have” after working hard. However, while the Bible speaks well of resting from our work regularly, there are only a handful of places where the elderly are described as those who receive rather than those who give. Paul admonished the Thessalonian believers to follow his example, by working to support themselves and said, “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) As for an even greater example, we look to Christ, who is also our strength.
We all have a little bit of laziness in us when it comes to unpleasant things or tasks that seem overwhelming. However, being slack is something that detracts from our relationships and quality of life. What might you do that you have put off for some time? How do you want the younger or older generation to describe you?
(1) CNN, April 12, 2017, https://money.cnn.com/2017/04/12/news/economy/us-economy-big-problem-tyler-cowen/
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 21:25, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-21.html
(3) Jonathan Joyner, The Marlin Chronicles, The student newspaper at Virginia Wesleyan University, http://marlinchronicle.vwu.edu/?p=7212