I have the privilege of working with the best Associate Pastor, Ben Falconer. He is not lazy! But his sermon a few weeks ago on laziness (from the book of Proverbs) was especially good. Laziness is one of the most respectable sin, and often the busiest among us are the most guilty.

I asked if I could post Ben’s notes. They are worth perusing.


Consequences of Laziness

Consequence 1: You will bring harm to yourself.

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

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

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

Consequence 2: You will cause harm to others.

Best-case scenario: 10:26 – Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.

Worst-case scenario: 18:9 – Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.

Social scientist Charles Murray identifies what he calls the “New Lower class: pleasant, inoffensive folks who consume more than they produce…They may break no laws and break no windows, but by not contributing, they are destroying.” A society can absorb the underproduction of a few people, but when that number reaches into the millions, the consequences are high for everyone.

Characteristics of Laziness

Characteristic 1: You have trouble starting your work.

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

14:23 – In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Alexander MacLaren, a nineteenth century Scottish preacher, says this about procrastination: “No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant.”

Characteristic 2: You have trouble finishing your work.

12:27 – The slothful will not roast his game; but the diligent man will get precious wealth.

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

19:24/26:15 – The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Characteristic 3: You have made an idol out of leisure.

21:17 – Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

John Piper famously challenges the American dream of retiring early and seeing the rest of life as one uninterrupted vacation on the Florida beaches. When God calls us to give an account for the last 20 years of our lives, our massive seashell collection won’t seem very impressive.

Characteristic 4: You are undisciplined in your sleep.

6:9-11 (24:33) – How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

19:15 – Slothfulness casts into deep sleep; the idle person will be hungry.

20:13 – Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes and have plenty.

26:14 – As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.

Characteristic 5: You are prone to making excuses.

22:13/26:13 – The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”

Characteristic 6: You are restless with unsatisfied desires.

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

21:25 – The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.

Bruce Waltke writes, “The appetite keeps normal people alive by driving them to work to satisfy it, but it kills the sluggard because his hands refuse to satisfy it. His unfulfilled craving kills him both by starvation and frustration.”

Characteristic 7: You are wise in your own eyes.

26:16 – A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.

One college professor wrote, “Even in engineering classes, many of the U.S. students expect to be given A’s for inhaling and exhaling, and look at you like you have four heads if you suggest that perhaps coming to class, doing homework, and studying might improve their grade.” Our pride and over-exalted self-image has made us lazy.

Cure for Laziness

3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Jesus Christ not only redeems our souls from the pit, he also redeems all aspects of our lives—our time, our attitude, and our work ethic. God gives grace when we are lazy with our time and with our minds. He has not only set a perfect standard for us in the Law, but he has also provided the perfect fulfillment of the Law in his Son Jesus Christ. When we repent of our sin and trust in him with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding, then we not only have forgiveness in Christ, we also have the righteousness of Christ clothing us before the Father. Christ’s Spirit in us empowers us to live in accordance with his Word. And so we can acknowledge him in all our ways.

In his Proverbs commentary, Derek Kidner says, “The wise man will learn while there is time. He knows that the sluggard is no freak, but as often as not, an ordinary man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals and too many postponements. It has all been as imperceptible, and as pleasant, as falling asleep.” Laziness isn’t loud and abrasive. We don’t often notice it in ourselves or those around us. But with all the ease of our culture, we may be quietly drifting off to sleep in the cradle of laziness. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Look to Christ and invite him to redeem your life and to redeem your time.