Proverbs 19:15

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.


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Slothfulness is doing a job slowly. It is dreading work and resenting the effort it requires. It is a lazy attitude and effort toward a job; and it starts a vicious cycle. Laziness saps your energy, slows you down, intimidates your spirit, and puts you to sleep. Laziness begets more laziness, until you are a worthless bum. It leads to, “I’m too tired to do anything; I think I’ll take a nap.” Soon you are too “tired” to even eat (Pr 19:24: 26:15)!

What are the consequences of laziness? In a godly world, you would starve to death. Jesus Christ of the Bible does not allow lazy people to eat (Pr 20:4; II Thess 3:10)! An idle soul – a person not working at something – shall suffer hunger. Because you are lazy, noble employers will not promote you or pay you very much; you will stay in lowly jobs and get poorer and poorer (Pr 10:4; 12:24; 13:4). You will soon not have enough to eat.

What is slothfulness? It is acting like a sloth! What is a sloth? The sloth is a mammal that lives in the trees of South America. They move very slowly – upside down. They are the slowest land mammals and travel very sluggishly on the ground (only 5 feet in a minute). When moving through the trees upside down, they travel at a quicker speed (about 12 feet in a minute). Sloths are very lazy animals and sleep an average of 15 hours per day.

Each day brings tests to prove whether you are a sloth or not. One is in the morning, when it is time to get up. What do you do? If you roll over, cuddle yourself under the blankets, and wish you did not have to get up, you are a sloth. Solomon mocked your antics in bed as resembling a door on hinges, turning back and forth in the comfort of your covers until poverty has destroyed you (Pr 6:9-11; 24:33-34; 26:14). Diligent men are thankful for another day, a place to work, and things to do; they get up and get going.

Another daily test is when you face an unpleasant task, like a sink full of dirty dishes, or a large lawn needing to be cut on a very hot day. You will either, jump on the job and go at it with full strength, or you will tell yourself how miserable it is that you have to work so hard, and groan and moan all the way through it. Do not be a sloth! Do not think about how hard a job is! Think about how thankful you are for health, strength, sunshine, lawnmowers, grass, and having your own yard. Get out there and make it look beautiful.

The hard worker gets done first, enjoys working hard, has a sense of accomplishment, and is rewarded by God and men. He is going somewhere. He drives his new car past the yard of the slothful and sees him trudging behind his mower. The slothful man finishes much later, complains about everything, is crushed by a defeated and exhausted spirit, and has his used car repossessed. Fire that bum! The hard worker is happy, promoted, and asking for overtime. The slothful man desperately just wants to take a nap.

It is all about attitude. And your attitude is a choice. If you get up slowly and wish you were still in bed, you will sap your energy and put yourself in slow motion. If you start a job with a sigh and resentment, it will seem like a mountain and take forever. Every job to the slothful man has a hedge of thorns in the way (Pr 15:19). But if you leap up in the morning, thanking God for another day to serve Him, you can be done with several jobs before noon, have a full sense of accomplishment, peace, and joy, and be a great success.

It is a choice. Do not sit. Do not think about what you need to do. Do not think about it being hard. Do not think about how long it will take. Start the first job now. Get at it! Do not think! Work! Before you know it, the task is over, you are refreshed by the joy and reward of a job well done, you are rejoicing in your abilities, and men will promote you.

A street bum, a panhandler, who sits and sleeps all day near his park bench, began with a choice one day to not work hard. One day of not working hard made it easier to be slothful the second day. In just a few days, he had lost the habit, conviction, drive, and joy of hard work. He lulled himself to sleep, the sleep of a bum. Sloth! Open your paper bag and drink your cheap wine! Fall down in the gutter and sleep in your own vomit!

What is the cure for bums? A nation could get rid of them by ending social assistance to such people and firing slow employees. A nation’s productivity would leap. Prosperity would abound much more than it does. Starvation is the best teacher of good work habits (Pr 16:26; 20:4). Men have a universal tendency to be thankful and motivated to work, when their belly button gets closer to their backbone. If your nation stopped protecting and subsidizing the slothful, men would learn to work, or starve. Either way, society and the workforce are purged of those unworthy of food and drink. What glorious wisdom!

What is the cure for you? Do not make excuses (Pr 22:13; 26:13,16). Get to work. Learn that extra time in bed is a horrible waste (Pr 6:9-11; 20:13; 24:30-34). Get up. Attack your job with fiery zeal, as to the King of kings, and think about working for kings, for that may be your next job (Pr 22:29; Col 3:22-25). Work is pleasure and a privilege to the godly man, and he will be content with whatever abilities and job God has given him.

Parent, this is a great lesson to teach your children each day. It matters little who discovered Bolivia, that the atomic number for titanium is 22, or that Spanish for nachos is nachos! But it does matter how children get up in the morning and attack their tasks for the day. Hard work and a zealous attitude are not the properties of any race, nationality, or temperament; they are rather the marks of the children of God. If you have learned God’s wisdom from this proverb, you will not subsidize, protect, or pamper lazy children.

Christian reader, the lesson of this proverb applies to all areas of your life, not just employment, washing dishes, or cutting the grass. It includes your attitude and efforts in your marriage, in child training, in personal devotions, prayer, and the worship of God. Are you ambitious, committed, energetic, and fervent in all these duties as well? There is only one way to live and approach your responsibilities – all out for the glory of God!

Never think for a minute that this doctrine is only found in the Old Testament. Paul condemned slothfulness in the New Testament (Rom 12:11; I Thess 4:11-12; Eph 4:28). He ordered the churches not to let lazy people eat (II Thess 3:10-12). And he called for the exclusion of any church members compromising these orders (II Thess 3:6-15). The grace of God that converts sinners, and the proper preaching of His Word, will transform men from the slothful habits and thinking of this lazy and spoiled generation.

The blessed Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul were diligent workers. Jesus often did not have time for leisure (Mark 3:20-21; 6:31). He did not want night to come, because He would have to quit working (John 4:34; 9:4; 17:4). Paul labored more diligently than the other apostles (I Cor 15:10). He preached during the day and worked at night; he preached during the night and worked during the day (Acts 18:3; I Thes 2:9; II Thes 3:8).

There is no room in the kingdom of heaven for lazy and slothful people (Matt 11:12; Luke 9:62; 13:24; I Cor 9:24; Phil 3:14). Neither Jesus nor Paul was slothful, and they are both your examples (I Cor 11:1). They put their hands to the will of God and did it with all their might, just as you should do in the various duties God has given you (Eccl 9:10).