Some of the laziest people I know are workaholics. But most aren’t.
The lazy-overachievers push themselves night and day in a vain effort to convince themselves they are not lazy, not sloths or couch potatoes or blights on humanity. But most lazy people are under-achievers of the first order.
The workaholic has his own demons to tame, so we will leave him to them.
The rest of us are just cotton-pickin’ lazy.
Who would have thought that the ancients would have identified sloth as one of the deadly sins? It looks so tame, so benign. It doesn’t hurt anyone, but just lies there on the couch doing nothing. How could that be a sin?
The sloth rises from the bed at 10 am and whiles away the day, then rises from the couch at 10 pm wondering where the time went. Where the time went is into the trash bin, into deletion, never to be recaptured.
The sinfulness of sloth is that it wastes life. It denies that “this is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). It takes what is God’s and buries it. Sloth is life-denying, and thus rebellion against the purposeful Creating God.
I know about laziness. You too?
Now, I’m known as the guy who rises early and works late, who gets up in the night to tweak something and stays at it for hours.
As a young minister, I went for years without a vacation or taking an off day. From the outside, it looked noble to everyone except my longsuffering family. On the inside, I was living in fear. I was afraid of being accused of laziness, of not doing enough, of not earning my pay.
From the outside, that does not look like sloth. But my heart is where sloth resides.
In the same way that some part of me is an unbeliever, a thief, a liar, and an adulterer, I am lazy. The urge is ever-present, the all-too human tendency toward rebellion and indulgence. Staving it off is a never-ending chore.
Now, one reason we know laziness is so prevalent across humanity is that Scripture–particularly Proverbs–has so much to say on this subject, none of it good.
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise (Proverbs 6:6). The ant, says Solomon, is worthy of our study. Unlike the ancient philosopher-king, we have seen nature films depicting colonies of ants working and cooperating and fighting. We stand in awe of this little critter.
Now, Solomon clearly knew nothing approaching what today’s scientists have learned about ants. And yet, what he said is exactly on target. The ant, as well as the squirrel in my back yard, puts us to shame.
The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly (Proverbs 26:16). The person who does not get up off the couch to run the vacuum or wash the dishes or to earn his pay in the office always has reasons and excuses.
For the record, here are the Proverb references to sloth and laziness: 10:4,26; 12:24; 13:4; 15:19; 19:15; 20:4; 26:14-16.
First, let’s say what laziness and sloth are not.