A personnel manager rejected a job applicant because the firm was overstaffed. But the would-be employee persisted, “The little bit of work I’d do won’t even be noticed!” Then there’s the story of a laid-back couple who were sitting in front of the fireplace one evening, actively engaged in doing nothing at all. The wife said, “Jed, I think it’s raining. Get up and go outside and see!” The husband, still gazing lazily into the fire, sighed and said, “Just call in the dog and see if he’s wet.” Comical stories aren’t they? Or are they?
Some have suggested that laziness is on the increase in our land and some surveys that have been conducted would tend to support that notion. I find these studies quite interesting, because in my little world, I find that most of my family and friends seem to be on the other side of the spectrum. (Incidentally, workaholism is not the creative, or biblical alternative to laziness).
Laziness holds third-place of the seven deadly sins in a traditional list dating back to the early days of the church. While laziness is not specifically mentioned in the biblical list of the seven things that God hates, found in Proverbs 6:16-19, it is poetically and powerfully alluded to in the previous verses of that same chapter.
Proverbs 6:6–11 says, “Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. 7 Without leader, administrator, or ruler, 8 it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest. 9 How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, 11 and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.”
As a student I remember reading that ants can carry up to 20 times their own weight. More recent studies reveal that they can carry up to 50 times their body weight and some worker ants are capable of lifting 100 times their own body weight. Comparatively speaking, a 180 pound man should be able to lift 180,000 pounds. Proverbs tells us that we should “observe” these incredible little creatures and learn from them. (Perhaps just before sprinkling that white powder on them at the edge of our lawns?)
For the Christian, there is an appropriate and balanced middle ground between laziness and workaholism. The primary focus is upon God being at the center. First, we recognize that, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor over it in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Second, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).