The Sin of Laziness (Sloth) and What the Bible Says About It

As Americans, we pride ourselves on being hard workers.  We are so busy, and we often brag to each other about how busy we are.  It is a status symbol.  To admit that you are not busy, or to confess sloth, is anathema.

But, we are actually quite lazy many times.  I heard Chip Ingram define laziness once as not doing what you should be doing at the time.  Proverbs 20:4 bears this out.  Thus, just because you got 150 emails answered doesn’t mean you aren’t lazy.  It only means you weren’t being lazy if you should have been doing that at that moment.

Further, as Americans, we are addicted to entertainment and leisure.  Entertainment and leisure are not necessarily evil.  There is a time to rest, etc.  However, the amount of time that most Americans dedicate to entertainment and leisure rises to the level of idolatry.  I think many, if not most, Americans view work and everything else in their lives as what they have to do to get to entertainment and leisure.  “How long until I can lay down on the couch and watch TV [or browse the Internet or post on Facebook or whatever other leisure activity you might want to insert here]?” is an overriding question for many people I believe.

I taught on this in Marriage Builders last Sunday in the context of how laziness interferes with the ability of the husband to lead the family.  I agree with Doug Wilson that laziness is a sin to which men and boys are naturally prone.  Therefore, if we hope to lead our wives and families, we as men must constantly combat the sin of laziness.

To help us do that, I used a number of passages from the book of Proverbs to demonstrate how the Bible portrays laziness or sloth.  For example, laziness is infuriating (Prov. 10:26), obvious (Prov. 24:30-34), and shameful (Prov. 10:4-5).  It also makes excuses (Prov. 22:13) and demonstrates an idiotic lack of task completion (Prov. 12:27 & 19:24).  Further, it love frivolity (Prov. 28:19), is never satisfied (Prov. 13:4 & 21:25-26), prevents real rest (Prov. 19:15 & 26:13-16), is a harder way to live (Prov. 15:19), is wise in its own eyes (Prov. 26:16), and leads to want and misery (Prov. 6:6-11, 13:4, 19:15, 20:4, 21:25-26, 24:30-34, 28:19).

Not a pretty picture!  Sometimes it is helpful to see sin for what it is.  Once we see it in all its folly and filthiness, it is often easier to resist it.  Thus, the presentation of the picture above.

Last week I ran out of time in presenting some solutions.  So, this week in Marriage Builders, I am going to discuss some of the solutions to laziness and sloth.  I will give some practical ideas of how to combat this sin, and, hopefully, that will help us to lead the families that God has given us.

The following is a list of some verses from the Bible on laziness.  They are in the English Standard Version.

Proverbs 6:6–11
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 10:4–5
4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.

Proverbs 10:26
Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.

Proverbs 12:24
The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

Proverbs 12:27
Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.

Proverbs 13:4
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 15:19
The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.

Proverbs 19:15
Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

Proverbs 19:24–25
24 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth. 25 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.

Proverbs 20:4
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

Proverbs 21:25–26
25 The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Proverbs 22:13
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”

Proverbs 24:30–34
30 I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, 31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 26:13–16
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. 15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Proverbs 28:19
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.