A Warning Against Idleness
Imagine driving down the road and coming to a house that is broken down and overgrown with weeds. First, you assume that no one lives there. But then you see someone through a broken window. You wonder if the owner is sick and unable to care for the property. Then they wander outside and they look full of health. It turns out that they are simply lazy.
That, of course, is the scene described in this proverb: a sluggard lives on the land, and his vineyard is a testimony to his laziness.
Sluggards don’t set out with the desire to live in poverty and disgrace. Rather, when challenged with work, their attitude is marked by key characteristics that many of us may find in our own lives if we are willing to gaze into the mirror of God’s word.
A sluggard doesn’t merely enjoy his bed; he is hinged to it, making a lot of movement but no progress towards anything substantial (Proverbs 26:14). He never flat-out refuses to do anything. Rather, he just puts off tasks bit by bit, moment by moment, and deceives himself into thinking he will get around to them.
A sluggard is also masterful at making excuses. Possessing no mind to work, she always finds reasons to continue in her idleness. There is nothing difficult about taking out the overflowing trash bag, but the sluggard will rationalize her failure to follow through on even the simplest of duties.
Sluggards will, quite ironically, always be hungering for fulfillment, because, by virtue of their posture of heart, they never find it. It’s always “out there somewhere,” but it’s never realized. The souls of sluggards crave and gets nothing, not because they can’t but because they won’t. In their overabundance of rest, they are restless.
When laziness comes to mark our existence, we may convince ourselves that we really are prepared to run ten miles, start writing that paper, or finish that project—but we are only living in the realm of imagination until our reality is changed by God’s power and grace.
Beware of looking at idleness as some sort of minor detail or small problem. Laziness is not an infirmity. It is a sin. Little by little it can affect the whole of our lives, growing with unperceived power—and Satan is longing to lull us into defeat. In what ways are you tempted to be lazy? What are you putting off or making excuses for, and why? Will you confront this sin and ask God to help you deal with it ruthlessly, immediately, and consistently?
Warning Against Idleness
6Now 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. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.4
13As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
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