God calls for diligence in our spiritual lives (Philippians 2:12; 1 Timothy 4:7-8). Even as we often fall into a pattern of laziness in earthly matters, we can just as easily stagnate in spiritual laziness.
Proverbs is a book in the Bible that warns urgently and picturesquely against laziness. Although the most direct application of these admonitions is to the practical and tangible labors of this life, much of the message applies equally to the spiritual realm. Let’s consider a few…
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame” (Proverbs 10:4-5).
This is one of several proverbs that would testify to the connection between prosperity and hard work. (See also Proverbs 20:4; 24:33-34.) Being rich in faith (James 2:5) does not come by chance, but by commitment. Many in the first-century church in Laodicea had become “lukewarm” in their service to God, such that they fell into poverty towards their Lord (Revelation 3:15-22). Proverbs 10:5, in this light, pictures youth – which many frivol away – as an especially good opportunity to grow in Christ, before the responsibilities of adulthood take up so much time.
“Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him” (Proverbs 10:26).
These lines encourage us to think about our level of dedication from the perspective of our Master. If he gives us a task, and we are irresponsible and undisciplined in our commission, it must be quite bothersome to him! Paul makes a similar application regarding distractions while on duty in the Lord’s service: “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4).
“Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks” (Ecclesiastes 10:18).
Here we quote from Ecclesiastes, though Proverbs elsewhere makes similar observations (Proverbs 24:30-32), and we apply it to God’s house, the church (1 Timothy 3:15). Congregations that find success make serious efforts to build up Scriptural knowledge, close fellowship and unity, and real zeal for God’s purposes. Groups that are content just to float with the current soon find themselves “leaking” in division, false doctrine, and stunted growth. Non-working members share guilt if the church breaks down because of these problems: “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
“The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway” (Proverbs 15:19).
To the spiritually lazy, every step on the Lord’s way seems difficult and burdensome. Those that have made the determination to progress, even if it calls for sacrifice, perseverance, and effort are the ones that grow by leaps and bounds and bring honor to God.