Laziness is sin that the Christian must learn to put to death. In this message Pastor Brian shows the rebellion of laziness, the range of laziness, the results of laziness, and finally the remedy of laziness.
Putting Laziness To Death
In 1985 Bob Black wrote an essay entitled The Abolition Of Work. This is how he introduces his topic, “The Abolition of Work” read, “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.”
I daresay, Bob Black speaks for a great many people today. In fact, he is the spokesman for the world concerning work. When I’m doing a job for one of my customers and I am leaving, often they will say, “Don’t work too hard,” or “Take it easy!” When I ask someone how they are doing, they will often say, “Not too bad. It’s Thursday. Almost to the weekend.” In other words, what is subtly being communicated, is that work is bad, and leisure time is good. Americans live for the weekend. They live for ease, and leisure, and fun, and entertainment. In fact, I believe one of the greatest idols in America today is entertainment. Many people are literally addicted to it. And our advanced technology has made entertainment more alluring than ever before. When I was growing up as a kid, there wasn’t a whole lot of entertainment. We owned a little black and white TV. That was it! So, what did we do? We played outside all the time. We loved sports, so we would play baseball, basketball, and football year round. In fact, there was a vacant lot right next to our house, so we removed all the shrubs, and bushes, and built a baseball diamond. We even painted a line across the street with the words “Home Run” over it. We also spent time building rafts and floating down the creek, building forts, and riding bikes. But today, most children spend the bulk of their free time looking at a screen, whether that screen is a TV, computer, phone, or ipad. No wonder there has been a huge rise of obesity in children. Although technology can be a great blessing and used for good, it can also be a curse if it is misused.
The church in centuries past preached against Christians getting involved in the entertainments of the world. They preached against the theatre, cards, dancing, etc. Today, we have embraced all the world’s entertainments whole hog, just as long as we remove profanity and nudity from them. Many churches will modify their evening service on Super Bowl Sunday, so that they watch the game, and insert a mini message during half time. What is going on when men leave church early on Sunday so that they can see the ball game on TV? Or what does God think of us spending 5 minutes in prayer, and then 3 or 4 hours on Facebook, or watching TV or movies, or computer or video games? This is a huge problem in the church of Jesus Christ in America today, and one that we need to face head on.
This morning we continue our series on “Putting Sin To Death” and the sin we are going to focus on is laziness. The Church fathers compiled a list of the 7 Deadly Sins. They consist of: Pride, Envy, Anger, Laziness, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust. Notice that laziness made the list of one of the 7 Deadly Sins! I suppose before we go any further we need to define our terms. Laziness is simply being opposed to work. It is a disinclination to work. Remember that faith is coming to God to find satisfaction in Him. Unbelief is turning away from God to find satisfaction in something else. Well, laziness is turning from God to find satisfaction in ease and entertainment. This is the spirit of the world, and the spirit of the age, and the child of God must repent of this worldly perspective in order to do the will of God.
This morning we are going to look at 4 aspects of laziness: The Rebellion, Range, Results, and Remedy of Laziness.
1. The Rebellion Of Laziness
God Is A Worker. Genesis 2:2 says, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” So, why did God work for six days and then rest on the seventh? Was it because He was tired? Of course not! I believe it was to set an example for man. God worked diligently for six days in a row, then rested for one day, so that man would understand that he too should work diligently most of the time, and then, when necessary, stop to rest in order to strengthen him to work again. The world says, “Work so you can rest.” The Christian says, “Rest so you can work.” Work is the goal! Work is what God wants us to be doing. To be idle, and unproductive, and wasting your mind, time, and resources is sin against God.
Jesus Is A Worker. Jesus said in John 5:17, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” He said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” In John 17:4 He said, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” Indeed, we refer to what Christ accomplished for sinners as His finished work!
The Spirit Is A Worker. 1 Peter 1:1-2 says that we are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. In Hebrews 13:20-21 the author prays that the God of peace would equip us in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” Paul said in Phil. 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Do you see that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all diligent workers? If we are to be godly, we will have to be like God. And since God is a diligent worker, you and I can’t be godly, unless we are also diligent workers. We should emulate God in His moral qualities. I believe that diligence is a moral quality, and laziness is a moral defect. Because we are born of God, we should emulate His example and also be diligent workers ourselves.
God Gave Work Before The Fall. Many people believe that work is a curse. They think that work is a result of the Fall. We read in Genesis 2:15 “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Cultivating and keeping a garden requires work! And God gave Adam this work before sin came into the world. Sin caused work to become more difficult and frustrating, but work is not God’s curse on sin. Work is God’s blessing to man. Even if Adam had never sinned, God would have given him work to do, because God knows that work brings blessing, satisfaction, and joy to man.
2 Thess.3:6-14. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they ought to follow his example. He and Silas and Timothy had worked night and day so they wouldn’t be a burden to any of them. He goes on to tell them that if a man will not work, he is not to eat either. Then he tells them that he has heard there are some among them who are doing no work at all. He commands them in the Lord Jesus to work and eat their own bread. Further, Paul commands the church to keep away and not associate with anyone who will not work! Do you see how serious laziness is? We are not even supposed to associate with a person who will not work. Laziness is a respectable sin. No one ever gets called on it. I can’t think of a single sermon I have ever heard on laziness in the last 38 years of being a Christian! Yet, it serious in the eyes of God!
1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Of course, in order to provide for others, you will have to work. Yet, this verse tells us that if a person doesn’t provide for his own, he’s worth than an unsaved person!
Acts 20:34-35, “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Eph.4:28, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”
Those last two passages tell us why we should work. We are to work hard so we can help others and share with those in need. If you are a lazy person, and refuse to work, you will never have anything to give or to share or to help others in need. Rather, we are to be so hard working that we have a surplus. We can not only meet all the needs in our family, but have a surplus so we can give to the poor and finance the cause of the gospel around the world.
1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
Matthew 25:26, “You wicked, lazy slave.” Notice that Jesus associates laziness with wickedness. Let that sink in. To the extent that you are lazy, you are also wicked.
My friends, laziness is sin. It is evil. It is contrary to the nature of God. God has called every Christian to be careful to be zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14). A good work requires work! It requires effort and exertion. You and I will never live according to the will of God until we are diligent and hard workers. One of God’s principle designs in bringing us into this world is to work!
2. The Range Of Laziness
Physical Laziness. Physical laziness is why so many employees show up to work late and leave early. They take long breaks and hour and a half lunch periods. Their goal is to do as little work as possible. This is also why people won’t exercise. Simply knowing that exercise will improve our health is not enough to get Americans to exercise. We are only making this worse for our children by allowing them to sit and look at a screen for hours and hours every day. We should limit their exposure to TV and video games, and then let them go outside and play. When I see children glued to a screen I know they are making some big mistakes that may affect them for the rest of their lives. Physical laziness is a huge problem today.
Mental Laziness. God made us as intelligent and rational creatures. He gave us a wonderful gift in that three pound muscle inside your head. However, people today don’t want to think. They don’t want to learn and study and grow intellectually. All around us there is so much to learn! I don’t know about you, but I find learning fascinating! I have discovered the world of Youtube documentaries, and I have learned so much about the Civil War, Hitler, the Abolitionists, the Women’s Rights movement, killer whales, crocodiles, strange sea creatures, serial killers, life in prison, and on and on it goes. I love learning. It makes life fun and exciting to continue to learn. In the late 1990’s it was discovered that 99% of students knew who Beevis and Butthead were, but only 23% knew that James Madison was the principal framer of the Constitution. Many people don’t read any more. I’m not talking about reading novels. I’m talking about reading non-fiction. We have mentally checked out. We know about sports heroes and movie stars than we do about what is going on in the world, or the cause of the gospel in the world. The most diligent among us only use about 10% of their brain. Many of us use less than 1%! That’s shameful. We should be readers and thinkers. We are told in the Proverbs (8:10-11) that we should seek after wisdom as though it were silver or gold or previous jewels. I encourage you this morning to stop vegging out, and seek after the joy of learning!
Spiritual Laziness. For the Christian, this is probably the worse form of laziness of all. We find it so hard to pray! Why? Because it feels like work (Col. 4:12). We can sit and watch TV for four hours, but we can’t pray for 15 minutes! What’s wrong with us? We are lazy! We have little time to help others in need. We won’t carve out an hour or two a week to share the gospel with lost people. Donald Grey Barnhouse, “The one thing people dread more than anything else is to have to go to church on Sunday morning and be made to think.” They want to come to church and be entertained! In any church, 20% of the people do the work, and 80% of the people sit and watch them do it and complain! This is a problem for all of us – retired people too. The world’s opinion is that we work all our lives, so that we can retire at 65 and play for the rest of our lives. My friends, where do you find that in the Bible?! Yes, you may have to slow down because of the frailty of your body, but we are never to retire. Every single one of us, no matter how old we are, should be active, doing whatever we can to serve others and God. If you only have a heart to want to do something productive and useful, you can! You have time to play your video games and read your novels. Then you have time to write prisoners encouraging letters. You have time to cook up a meal for someone in the church who is sick. This is an ethical problem, like drinking, or sex, or overspending. Laziness causes us to misuse the talents and time God has given us. You do realize, that you are not your own, and that you have been bought with a price? If you do, you know that your time is not your own to do with whatever your flesh wants. Your mind is not your own to do or not do whatever you want. God shouts, “Up and be productive with your body and mind while you still can!” The Puritan, Thomas Manton wrote, “Everlasting joys will not drop into the mouth of the lazy soul; these things are not trifles, they will cost us diligence and seriousness.”
3. The Results Of Laziness
I am going to go to the book of Proverbs, and show you want it says about the sluggard. A sluggard is a habitually lazy person. So, what does the book of Proverbs say about the sluggard. Well, it reveals 7 results of laziness.
Laziness Destroys Self-Motivation. One of the great qualities I always look for when hiring someone for my window cleaning company is someone who is self-motivated. It is so hard to find today! Prov. 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” Have you ever looked at an ant hill? What are those ants doing? They are busy, busy busy! They are all scurrying around, carrying things in and out. And these ants have no Chief, Officer, or Ruler cracking the whip and shouting orders. They don’t need another ant prodding them and pushing them so that they work hard. Their nature is to be diligent. They are self-motivated. It comes from within them. We should learn a lesson from the ants. Do you need someone pushing or prodding you in order for you to work and be productive? If so, it is a sign of laziness.
Laziness Causes Us To Be Unprepared For The Future. Prov. 6:7-11 goes on to say, “Which, having no chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.” What is Solomon saying here? He’s saying that the ant works hard to prepare for the future, but the sluggard doesn’t. He lies down and sleeps and folds his hands. The result? Instead of storing up food and money and resources for the future, he becomes poor and needy. Are you poor and needy today? It may be because you have been lazy in the past.
Laziness Brings Unhappiness. Proverbs 21:25-26, “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; all day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back.” This proverb is telling us that the lazy man is going to have a miserable life. His desire for ease and pleasure and amusement will put him to death. He craves and never gets what he wants because he won’t work. Proverbs 15:19 says, “The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” This proverb compares the two different paths. The path of the upright is as a highway. It is broad and spacious and easy to walk that path. But the path of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns. In other words, it is difficult, nigh to impossible to get along that path. There is no way to get through that hedge of thorns. The thorns will cut and scrape and shred you. The lazy man’s lifestyle hurts him. It leaves him miserable, unhappy, restless and dissatisfied. On the contrary, the diligent person experiences happiness, and satisfaction in his work. Parents, unless you teach your children to work, they will grow up lazy and unhappy. That’s why I think it is destructive to just give your children what they want without having to work for it. If they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and can have whatever they want without working for it, they won’t value what they have, will never learn to be diligent in work and probably lead unhappy lives.
Laziness Brings Poverty. Proverbs 24:30-34, “I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.” Now I need to be clear here. I am not saying that every poor person is that way because they are lazy. There are many people who are hard workers, but have come to poverty because of other reasons. But this passage is telling us that a lazy person is very likely to become poor in the future. Maybe not at the beginning. But over many years, laziness will produce poverty. If you want to be poor, and never be able to provide your own needs or give to help others, go ahead and lead a lazy life. But, if you want the joy of prospering in life and being able to help others, you must shrug off laziness and cultivate diligence in work.
Laziness Causes Us To Make Excuses For Not Working. Proverbs 26:13, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!” Now, in those days, cities were built with walls around them to give protection from enemies. Lions didn’t just walk into cities and stand in the open square. This statement of the sluggard is preposterous. It is ridiculous. But that’s the point! The sluggard says that he can’t go to work because there may be a lion who will kill him if he does. Now, I know that sounds ridiculous, but the lazy person is full of excuses, rationalizations, and justifications why he didn’t do what he should have. “Teacher, I don’t have my homework, because my dog ate it!” “I didn’t clean up my room, because an alien zapped me and made me play the video game instead!” “I can’t come to church because it’s too far to drive.” As a business owner, I have heard it all when it comes to excuses for why someone can’t come to work. People who make excuses for why they can’t come to work or complete a job don’t last long in my company. They are fired very quickly.
Laziness Causes Us To Procrastinate. The lazy person puts off what he should do. Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.” After the autumn was the time to prepare the soil for next year’s crop. However, the sluggard procrastinates, and puts it off, saying, “I’m too tired to do it right now. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well guess what? Tomorrow never seems to come! And because he procrastinates, he has to beg during the harvest because he has no crop! Procrastination is a huge problem, even among believers. The procrastinator’s motto is, “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.” If you are a procrastinator, you need to put that to death. The best way to overcome procrastination is to write down all the things you need to do in the order of their importance, and then start with the most important thing, and do not stop until it is completed. Then move on to the next thing on your list. Sure, it takes diligence, but diligence is a Christian virtue which we must cultivate. Listen to the words of this poem by Edward Guest:
He was going to be all that a mortal could be. . . Tomorrow
None should be kinder or braver than he. . . Tomorrow
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too,
On him he would call to see what he could do. . . Tomorrow
Each morning he’d stack up the letters he’d write. . . Tomorrow
And he thought of the friends he would fill with delight. . . Tomorrow
It was too bad indeed; he was busy each day,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
“More time I’ll give to others,” he’d say. . .” Tomorrow
The greatest of workers this man would have been. . . Tomorrow
The world would have known him, had he ever seen. . . Tomorrow
But the fact is he died, and faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
Was a mountain of things he intended to do. . . Tomorrow.
Laziness Causes Us To Not Complete What We Have Started. Proverbs 12:27 says, “A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” Did you hear that? Diligence is a precious possession! It is more to be desired than money or gold or silver. It is precious. That’s why we should seek to cultivate it in ourselves and our children. Now, why doesn’t the lazy man roast his prey? Because hunting and killing the pheasant or deer is the fun part. Cutting up the animal and cooking it is sheer work! The lazy man will only do what is fun. He won’t follow through on difficult tasks. He doesn’t complete what he starts.
Laziness Causes Us To Oversleep. This fact is emphasized over and over in the book of Proverbs. Prov. 6:9-11, “How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.” Prov. 26:14, “As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.” Experts tell us that most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I know there are some exceptions, but if you are in the habit of sleeping 9 or 10 or 12 hours or more a day, that could be a sign that you are lazy.
4. The Remedy Of Laziness
I’m going to give you seven suggestions to kill the sin of laziness.
- Confess Your Laziness As Sin to God. Until you candidly confess your laziness as sin to God, ask Him to forgive you and help you to overcome it, there is little hope you will ever change. This is where it must start.
- Cultivate A Relish For Work. Learn to enjoy your work. Folks, there is a huge amount of satisfaction to working hard. I know this from personal experience. There is a huge amount of joy to be derived from working hard and doing a job well, and then reaping the benefits. When we moved here at the end of 2008, I had zero customers. For the first 5 months, I went out every single day and put up fliers on doors in order to get my business off the ground in Sacramento. In 5 months I put up 25,000 fliers. Now, I wasn’t getting any jobs from this. It was the winter, and no one has their windows cleaned in the winter. But, I had no other way of getting customers, so I just kept at it day in and day out, 8 hours per day all day long. I even bought a little scooter to help me get more up in a day. Now, 9 years later, we have 8 employees, counting Debbie and myself, and 6 company vehicles, and the business keeps growing every year. There is a lot of joy and satisfaction in that. Cultivate a desire for work. Learn to enjoy work for works’ sake. Parents, don’t punish your children by giving them work. If you do, they will associate work with punishment and pain and it will be harder for them to learn to relish their work. You don’t want to send them that signal.
- Remind Yourself That Your Work is One Way You Love Others. When you work, you are loving those that you are providing for (your family). But you are also loving your God and His church by being able to give. You are also loving your employer and your customers by doing a job well for them.
- Establish The Discipline Of Rising Early. After you have slept 7-8 hours, get out of bed! Instead of sleeping in, develop the discipline of getting up early. The people that are most diligent are generally those that get up early in the day. I know a lot of teenagers that won’t get out of bed until 1 or 2 in the afternoon! Don’t be like that.
- Learn To Cherish Time. Time is precious! The Bible is clear that we are to redeem the time, because the days are evil. Time is so precious because once you have spent it, you can never get it back. All of us have a limited supply, and none of us have any to waste. Wasting time is a great sin against God, because in doing so, we waste a life.
- Choose Your Friends Carefully. Choose those people you will be spending time with carefully. The Bible says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” If you hang out with people who use their time wisely, it will inspire you. If you hang out with people who waste their time, you will become just like them.
- Ask God To Change You. If you pray that prayer, you can know God will answer it. If we ask anything according to the will of God, we know He will answer it. And friends, if you pray that God will help you to overcome laziness and be a diligent, productive worker, God will answer that prayer.
I will close by quoting Tony Reinke in his message about Sloth.
- Sloth will cost you joy in God, in your daily routines.
- Sloth will blind you to how God designed vocation as a means for you to love others.
- Sloth will blind you to the needs you can fill.
- Sloth will cost you your love for the local church.
- Sloth will dull you with endless amusements.
- Sloth will blind you to your urgent need for Christ.
- Sloth will close your eyes to the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ.
- Sloth will mute your worship.
- Sloth will rob you of true leisure and refreshment.
- Sloth will kill your richest joys.
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