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Lazy In The Bible

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The lazy man desires what hard working people want: house, food, vacations, money for college and retirement. But the lazy man’s desires remain unsatisfied, while the diligent gain wealth.

It is impolite today to describe people as lazy, let alone suggest that laziness will lead to poverty, but that is how Proverbs mainly sees the world. Solomon knows that oppression, ill health, and lack of opportunity play a part in some having little, and there are plenty of ill-gotten gains. But the main issue in desiring and having versus desiring and not having is hard work versus laziness. It is condescending and dehumanizing to hide that fact from the poor.

Laziness in Solomon’s day described farmers who made excuses for not working their fields. “He who watches the wind will never sow, and he who looks at the clouds will not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:4).” Any excuse will do. The lazy man says, “there is a lion in the street (Proverbs 26:13).” Laziness today shows itself especially in laziness of mind. With regard to “word problems,” the attitude of my Algebra students was, “I’ll do 50 practice problems, I’ll do 100, but please, Mr. Edgar, oh please, don’t make me do word problems and have to think.” The sluggard starts a job, but won’t finish. He works only in spurts when he feels like it. He may not bother to get along with co-workers, another kind of laziness. Some just don’t go to work regularly. And amazingly, “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Proverbs 26:16).”

There is an academic cottage industry devoted to explaining (and excusing) people who are lazy: they live in a society where people like them have not been rewarded for their work in the past; their “social capital” is low; they have other “values” than those of the wider society. The explainers’ big mistake is thinking that laziness needs explaining, but laziness is quite normal. Laziness has characterized many civilizations, for example, those who where masters made slaves do the work. Perhaps that is why the Church in the slave-based Roman Empire constantly taught the virtue of hard work. Here is Paul talking to the Ephesian elders: “You yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:34-35).’” Diligence, not laziness, is what needs explaining.

Deep down the lazy man rebels against God’s curse on work. We labor by the sweat of our brow, weeds always interfering, work rarely “fulfilling,” often drudgery. Work is work! But he who submits to its demands will generally see his desires fulfilled, as the proverb teaches. Not so for the lazy man.

The Bible, a comprehensive guide to life, addresses various aspects of human behavior, including the concept of laziness. In this blog post, we will delve into the biblical perspectives on laziness, examining the consequences associated with a slothful lifestyle and seeking insights on how to overcome this prevalent challenge.

Laziness in the Bible: Unraveling the Consequences and Solutions

**I. *Scriptural Warnings Against Laziness*

A. Proverbs: The Wisdom Literature:

  • Explore the Book of Proverbs, a rich source of wisdom, which repeatedly warns against laziness and its detrimental effects on one’s life.

B. Idle Hands and Poverty:

  • Discuss the biblical principle that connects laziness with poverty, drawing attention to passages that highlight the consequences of neglecting one’s responsibilities.

**II. *Parables and Stories Illustrating Laziness*

A. The Parable of the Talents:

  • Analyze the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), examining the consequences for the servant who chose not to invest and grow what was entrusted to him.

B. The Ant and the Sluggard:

  • Explore the vivid imagery in Proverbs 6:6-11, contrasting the diligence of the ant with the sluggard’s tendency to sleep and neglect work.

**III. *Slothfulness in Leadership: A Biblical Warning*

A. Ecclesiastes Reflections:

  • Discuss the reflections on work and laziness found in the Book of Ecclesiastes, particularly addressing the consequences of idleness.

B. Leadership Responsibilities:

  • Examine instances in the Bible where leaders who were negligent or lazy faced significant consequences, emphasizing the importance of diligence in leadership.

**IV. *Solutions to Laziness: Wisdom from Scripture*

A. Diligence and Hard Work:

  • Extract wisdom from passages that emphasize the virtues of diligence, hard work, and the satisfaction that comes from fulfilling one’s responsibilities.

B. The Value of Planning:

  • Explore the biblical concept of planning and foresight, discussing passages that encourage individuals to approach life with purpose and intentionality.

**V. *Spiritual Laziness: A Deeper Look*

A. Neglecting Spiritual Growth:

  • Discuss the concept of spiritual laziness, exploring passages that caution against neglecting one’s relationship with God and the pursuit of spiritual maturity.

B. The Call to Spiritual Discipline:

  • Examine the biblical exhortations to spiritual discipline, emphasizing the importance of prayer, study, and active engagement in one’s faith journey.

**VI. *Overcoming Laziness: Practical Steps*

A. Self-Reflection and Accountability:

  • Encourage self-reflection on personal tendencies toward laziness and the importance of accountability in fostering positive change.

B. Setting Realistic Goals:

  • Discuss the biblical principles of setting realistic goals and working diligently towards them, recognizing the value of purposeful living.

10 things the Bible says about laziness


We take a look at what the Word of God has to say about spiritual and all kinds of laziness.

Proverbs 6:9–11 -

“How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

Proverbs 10:4 -

“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Proverbs 12:11 -

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.”

Proverbs 12:24 -

” Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”


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Proverbs 13:4 -

“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

Proverbs 14:23 -

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 18:9 -

“Whoever is lazy regarding his work is also a brother to the master of destruction.”

Proverbs 19:15 -

“Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry.”

Second Thessalonians 3:6 -

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 -

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Conclusion: Embracing Diligence and Purpose

Laziness, as depicted in the Bible, is not merely a physical state but also extends to the neglect of spiritual and personal growth. By unraveling the consequences of laziness and exploring the solutions provided in Scripture, we gain valuable insights into the importance of diligence, purpose, and responsibility. As we reflect on these teachings, may we be inspired to embrace a life marked by active engagement, spiritual discipline, and a commitment to fulfilling our God-given responsibilities.

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