[Column] Be Not Slothful

Once there lived a king. One day, he summoned wise men to seek their advice on how to promote people’s welfare and prosperity. The wise men carefully discussed and studied day and night and finally summarized their ideas in twelve volumes of books. The king, however, was not pleased and asked them to further summarize the content of the book. The wise men gathered again for fervent discussion and came up with one sentence that summarized their ideas contained in the books. What do you think this sentence was? It was “nothing is for free.” Nothing is for free in the world. If you sow sin you reap sin and if you sow righteousness you reap righteousness. While you reap regrets and poverty if you sow laziness, you reap prosperity and blessing if you sow diligence. The Bible calls sloth a sin and advises against it. What are the characteristics of the slothful?

They are prone to provide excuses. “The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”(Proverbs 26:13). Although lions are not usually seen on the street, the sluggard says they roam around either out of intimidation or as a petty excuse when undertaking given tasks. There is a popular saying that goes, “Heaven helps those who help themselves.” Only those who make effort or those who are diligent and hardworking will prosper. We worship Jesus Christ whose belt is righteousness (Isaiah 11:5). We must remove from our hearts all that is not “righteous” such as complaints and grumbles and remain faithful to God using our talents and gifts. As Mother Teresa said, “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”

The slothful love to sleep. “As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” (Proverbs 26:14). As a door has a limited range of movement, so does the sluggard. There is a French proverb “On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs” which means “One cannot expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.” Likewise, you cannot start a new day without breaking free from sleep. A sound sleep is a blessing from God to those who work hard. However, turning on bed is the path to poverty (Proverbs 13:21). We must awake from spiritual sleep and stay alert through prayer and the Scriptures. Those who pray in the morning experience faithfulness of the Lord (Lamentations 3:23) and those who meditate on the Word of God grow in His knowledge (2 Peter 1:8; 3:18).

The sluggard exhibits diligence only in his mouth. “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth” (Proverbs 26:15). Lazy people in general despise working. Many of you must be familiar with Millet’s masterpiece. It depicts a male farmer who stands with bowed head at the church bell and a female farmer who clasps her hands for prayer. Entitled The Angelus, a form of Christian prayer, the painting reveals a very important message. Upon careful examination, it is evident that sunlight falls not on the farmers’ heads or the church but on the pitchfork. This profoundly demonstrates Millet’s work ethic and philosophy. He has depicted the sanctity of labor by casting light on the pitchfork. Those who attend to their labor with happiness and work up a sweat are the happiest.

Laziness kills (Proverbs 21:25). In fact, BBC News reported that “Sedentary living is the most prevalent disease, biggest silent killer and greatest health threat facing developed countries.” It is interesting, however, that lazy people often consider themselves to be wise. “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly” (Proverbs 26:16). No sluggards see themselves as foolish. While their bodies remain inactive, their mouths are constantly at work to criticize, judge, interfere, and boast.

The faithful are called by God to fulfill their God-given responsibilities and duties. Let us not “be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). God honors and protects the diligent (Proverbs 22:29; Psalm 31:23). We must feed on the faithfulness of the Lord (Psalm 37:3). Nothing is for free in the world. We reap as we sow in life. Let us not be slothful but zealously serve the Lord so that we may reap abundant blessing.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you very much for this inspiring article. God bless you, Rev. Hong.

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