Solomon and the wise men of Israel identified six characteristics of a sluggard. Our responsibility is to identify these faulty traits, examine ourselves to see if they have taken root in us, and then counter them with specific behaviors that teach us how to be diligent and faithful in our responsibilities. According to the book of Proverbs,
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat. (13:4)
The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;
All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back. (21:25–26)
It is not uncommon for lazy people to be extremely skilled and very creative individuals who possess great potential. They can talk and dream and even sketch out the game plan, but they lack the discipline to pursue their vision. As we just read, their “craving” goes on “all day long,” but little gets accomplished. When pressed for an explanation, their excuses bear witness to their creativity as well as to their unwillingness to apply themselves.
In my observation of people over the years, this kind of laziness results from one of three possible faults:
Lack of Confidence
A profound sense of doubt in one’s own capabilities can be coupled with a fear of exposing this incompetence. In truth, everyone lacks to some degree the confidence to attempt something new or untried. We all take on new challenges wondering if we have what it takes to see the job through to the end. Those who do not want to become sluggards choose to forge ahead with the expectation that, as they try, fail, assess, and grow, they will develop the skills necessary to succeed.
Lack of Skill
Sluggards won’t apply themselves without complete assurance at the beginning that they will not fail. If they lack the necessary skills, they console themselves with pipe dreams and petty assurances they could have succeeded “if only.” Those who do not want to become sluggards recognize their own lack of qualifications, but they decide to acquire the skills they need to accomplish their goals.
Lack of Desire
Sluggards are complacent people—and don’t mistake contentment for complacency. Unlike people who are content with what they have, sluggards feel entitled to greater wealth and more possessions, but they remain unwilling to do what is necessary to acquire them. People who are content feel gratified by what they accomplish regardless of the material reward. Sluggards want the rewards of hard work without putting forth the effort.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again. (26:15)
To avoid the sluggard’s sense of entitlement, pursue worthy goals without regard for wealth or possessions. Invest yourself in something meaningful and derive satisfaction from accomplishments that honor God.
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.