Laziness is a spiritual problem. Always. It’s also a universal issue. Even the most productive people have sneaky ways to be lazy; little distractions and insignificant tasks they use to avoid the harder tasks that really matter. What did Jesus say about laziness?
Our Struggle with Laziness
Let’s face it: It’s very tempting to set aside our most important responsibilities to indulge in our pleasures. When this becomes a habit, we become like the sluggard from Proverbs: “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled …” (Prov. 13:4).
We can easily get to the place where we don’t want to try new ventures, are unable to finish what we start, find it difficult to respond to God’s call – we become restless, apathetic, helpless.
There’s a reason the fourth century Christians listed sloth as one of the seven deadly sins. Laziness in any form is a spiritual problem.
Jesus and Laziness
Jesus told his disciples, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). We’re burning daylight, Jesus seemed to say, let’s not waste what little time we have!
Defending himself and his mission, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).
Jesus went from village to village preaching and teaching, healing hundreds of people. In one scene, early in his ministry, he is portrayed as having one very long day of work, from sunup to sundown (Mark 1:21-34). Yet, he was never too busy to stop and help someone (Mark 5:30).
Let me clarify one thing – Conquering laziness is not about being more productive.
The Biblical mandate against sloth is not meant to make you a more effective machine. On the contrary, it might mean you do less. It’s simply a way to connect you more intimately to your eternal purpose.
When Jesus told his disciples – “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (John 9:37) – his solution was not for them to do more work. Instead, he said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (John 9:38). In other words – the work is overwhelming so we better get on our knees!
Three Biblical Truths About Laziness
The antidote to laziness is not to dig deeper and try harder – it’s to get more connected to God. Here’s why.
1. Work is a Spiritual Discipline.
The accomplishments I am most proud of are the ones that took hard work. Those times when the demands were high requiring me to dig down deep and become something more; the pressure to work harder or be stronger; even the suffering that forced me to dig deeper.
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Prov. 10:4).
Jesus saw his work as a fulfillment of God’s call on his life. “’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (John 4:34).
I’ve performed almost 300 funerals in my 30 years as a pastor. One thing I’ve learned from that experience is that every life leaves a mark on this world. The why and how of your work is what determines that mark.
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23).
2. Work pleases God.
God created the Sabbath as a day of rest from all our work (Gen. 2:1-3).
When I was kid and my Dad was trying to get me to do my chores on Sunday, I would remind him that it was the Sabbath and we were supposed to rest. “But Son, you have to work for six days before you can rest,” he would say in a frustrated tone.
He was right. Written into the Sabbath commandment is the assumption that you will work for six days!
Paul (who may have been a workaholic) clarifies – “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).
We work hard for a purpose and that purpose is to bring glory and honor to God. Paul goes on to say, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1 Tim. 4:15).
3. We were created to work.
God created Adam and Eve and immediately put them to work (Gen. 1:28; 2:15). Some mistakenly think that work was introduced after the Fall of Adam and Eve. Not true. Work simply became harder after the Fall. Work was built into creation from the beginning and will be a part of eternity in heaven.
When we work we not only bring glory to God, we also fulfill our eternal purpose.
Laziness kills us from the inside out – not because it makes us less productive – but rather because it makes us unfulfilled.
Conquering laziness is not about being able to produce more. It’s about being able to bring glory to God and fulfill our reason for living.