13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Proverbs 26:13–16, NKJV).
Diligence is a hallmark of faith (Rom. 12:11; Heb. 4:11; 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:5, 10). Laziness fails to see daily opportunities to serve God, our families, brethren, and neighbors. Laziness serves the desires of Satan, not God. Solomon’s wisdom teaches us to be diligent in every part of our lives as it identifies the indicators and dangers of idleness. (1) The lazy person always has an excuse for not meeting his responsibilities (v. 13). Real or imagined dangers and difficulties content the lazy to remain so (Prov. 22:13; 20:4). God will use us to accomplish His work when we diligently seek and do His will (Matt. 19:26; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 11:6). (2) The lazy person fails to use his time wisely (v. 14). He sleeps when it is time to work (John 9:4). As a result, he is unprepared to successfully meet life’s challenges (Prov. 6:6-9; 19:15). We must redeem our time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). (3) The lazy person does not want to work (v. 15). The answer to his problem is staring him in the face, yet he is unwilling to work (Prov. 19:24). There is no reward in life or eternity for the apathetic and negligent soul (Prov. 12:27; 13:4; Eccl. 5:18-20). (4) The lazy person comforts himself with his pride (v. 16). He is self-deceived, lacking the perception needed to change his condition (Prov. 16:18). Let us be diligent in things temporal and eternal. Otherwise, “the desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (Prov. 21:25).
Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks. (Ecclesiastes 10:18, NKJV)
Apathy is harmful to spiritual health and vitality. Apathy in this context is “an attitude of indifference and unconcern toward spiritual things. It generally ignores spiritual matters in order to place a greater emphasis on material things” (“What Is Wrong With Christian Apathy?,” Biblical Proof). Spiritual indifference is one of the besetting sins in our age of affluence, convenience, and leisure. Like ancient Israel, it is easy to become “at ease in Zion” and neglect “mercy, justice and faith” toward God and fellow human beings (Amos 6:1-6). Often generated by pride, it robs Christians of giving due time and attention to spiritual responsibilities and opportunities (Amos 6:7-8). We succumb to spiritual laziness when we are quick to address material concerns yet neglect our spiritual needs. Our hedge against spiritual apathy is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Faith, activated by godly priorities to the will of God, helps guard against spiritual decay (see Romans 12:1-2).
“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” (Proverbs 20:13, NKJV)
Wisdom teaches us we cannot recapture wasted time. Sleep is used to describe idleness and inaction. Lack of attention to our daily tasks brings want (Proverbs 6:6-11). Loving idleness squanders the precious commodity of time. Instead of laziness, we are urged to open our eyes, see the work set before us, and then get busy addressing it. The result will be food to eat, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Jesus reminds disciples to avoid idleness when He urged personal evangelism in John 4:35: “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” He used it again when He spoke of the urgency of doing the work of God in John 9:4: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” You do not know how much time you have on the earth. So, use your time wisely, and enjoy temporal and eternal blessings (Ephesians 5:16).
25 The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare. (Proverbs 21:25–26, NKJV)
The lazy person is not righteous. Laziness leads to unfulfilled desires culminating in death. Rather than labor to satisfy one’s daily needs, being lazy leads to the additional sins of covetousness and greed. Consumed by longing for that which he does not have (and will not work for), the lazy person remains unsatisfied. The righteous person, on the other hand, is industrious and supplies his needs. By diligent labor he has more than enough for himself. He shares with others instead of greedily hoarding his goods. Do not be lazy; it only leads to want, greedy desire and death. Instead, thank the Lord for the work you have to do. Do your work with gladness, serving the Lord and helping others (Col. 3:23).
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6–11, NKJV)
Ants are fascinating to watch. They labor away, working ceaselessly to feed themselves. And, they work together (how many divided ant hills have you seen?). The ant exerts itself, teaching us to do the same and so avoid the danger that comes with laziness. An even greater danger exists when we choose to be spiritually lazy rather than being “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). There is spiritual work that needs doing. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (Jno. 9:4). Learn from the ant and know the value of labor. Then, like Jesus, be a diligent and faithful worker for God.