I did not appreciate hard work when I was child; however, I am glad my parents instilled in me a work ethic. Sadly, an aversion to work has become an epidemic in our society. Latest statistics reveal nearly 50% of Americans are gorging at the social welfare trough. I am all for assisting the poor, needy and unemployed; however, the problem today is there is little incentive or desire to work. We are plagued with what the KJV colorfully describes as the slothful and the sluggard.
Human nature is constant and it comes as no surprise that laziness was a subject Solomon addressed with his son and the apostle Paul identified in the church. Solomon summed up the tragedy of laziness in these words:
Proverbs 19:15 – “Slothfulness [laziness] casteth into a deep sleep [lethargy]; and an idle [slothful; slack] soul shall suffer hunger [famished; famine].”
Laziness breeds a lethargic spirit; an outlook on life that inevitably leads to hunger and a spirit of discontentment. Solomon paints a portrait of the lazy man in verse 24:
Proverbs 19:24 – “A slothful [lazy; indolent; sluggish] man hideth [covers; conceals; buries] his hand in his bosom [lit. dish; bowl], and will not so much as bring it [his hand] to his mouth again.” [note – Proverbs 26:15]
What a picture of laziness! Lacking modern utensils like a fork or spoon, men in ancient times would share a bowl at mealtime and use pieces of bread to scoop food out of the bowl. In Solomon’s portrait, the sluggard is so lazy, so indolent; he falls asleep with his hand in the dinner bowl!
Slothfulness not only pervades society, its tentacles are in the church! Many have commented, “10% of church members do 90% of the work”. The 1st century church faced that same challenge—too much work and too few willing to work! In his letter to Christians in Rome, Paul exhorted: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). To the church in Thessalonica, he wrote: “…do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11b).
What is God’s will? Work! Work hard. Give an employer an honest day of labor.
When it comes to ministry, don’t be a spectator, be a participator!
Paul offered a solution for laziness that would be a well-advised motto for your home, our church and society: “…if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)