The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 6 - “Leaving Laziness”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” we saw how to find fantastic friends and we learned about the worst of all sins-Pride. Today we are going to look at leaving laziness.

The word often used for lazy in the Authorized King James Version is "slothful" or "slothfulness." A sloth is a slow-moving, tree-dwelling mammal that hangs from tree branches and feeds on fruit and vegetation. The sloth is so lazy that it hangs by its claws for days at a time. It does nothing but eats and sleeps, so it is considered the laziest of all creatures.

The Bible also calls a lazy person a "sluggard." Do you know any "human" sloths or sluggards? You may be surprised at who is truly lazy because slothfulness or laziness is selective. We can all be lazy in certain areas of our livesusually the most important areas. We can be workaholics and still be lazy. In this lesson we are going to look at two things, the cost of laziness and the cure for laziness.

#1) The Cost of Laziness

-Laziness spoils relationships. Laziness is most often seen in our neglect of other people. One of the best examples of the cost of laziness occurs just hours before Jesus was crucified. After the Last Supper, Jesus takes His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. He leaves most of the disciples at the gate and tells them: Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder (Mt 26:36b). Then, He takes Peter, James, and John with Him deeper into the garden. These men were His inner circle, His closest disciples. Jesus tells them: My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death (Mt 26:38a). He then tells them to, “Tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matt 26:38b)

More than any other time in His life, Jesus needs the support, love, and prayers of His three closest friends. Of all the people on earth, surely He can count on Peter, James, and John. But what happens? When Jesus returns, He finds all three asleep! He asks Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matt 26:40b) Can you hear the hurt and disappointment in Jesus' question? Just when He needs them most, they are too tired and lazy to watch... one hour.

Let's apply this to our lives. Have you ever come home really tired after a hard day's work or a tough time at your job? Your spouse and kids are waiting for you to express your love for them. You have the opportunity to give your kids a hug and listen to what they have been anxiously waiting to tell you about their day, which to them is just as important as your day is to you. You also have an opportunity to express your love and appreciation to your spouse in front of your kids. But you are just too tired.

After supper you collapse in your favorite easy chair with the newspaper or turn on the TV for the rest of the evening. You miss the opportunity to play with your kids, maybe help them with their homework, and pray with them before they go to bed. Those opportunities to express your love are gone for all eternity and you will never have this time again.

You didn't miss those opportunities because you are a mean person or because you don't care about your family, but because you are too lazy to do the important things when you are tired. This is the story of most workaholics. They get everything done at work, even when they are tired, but when they get home to their spouses and kids, they are too tired and lazy to take part in the really important things in life. Most of the important things in life are done by people when they are tired, but who refuse to be lazy. Proverbs 15:19 says, “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns, but the way of the righteous is made plain.”

This means lazy people always have excuses, or a hedge of thorns, that prevents them from doing what they should, but the righteous get things done. Most marriage problems are the result of laziness because marriage is mostly just plain hard work, and one or both marriage partners are too lazy to make the necessary effort. Laziness is also often the culprit in parental problems because parents are often just too lazy to listen, help with homework, or get involved in their children's lives. Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

If we don't plow when we have opportunity, the day will come when we will look at our relationships and find nothing. Many parents say, "Well, when things slow down at work, I will have more time for my kids." Parents let me tell you from experiencethat time never comes. Proverbs 12:27 says. “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

Lazy people don't take care of their possessions because they don't value what they have, but a diligent person values and takes care of his possessions. The most important things in our lives are our relationships, but laziness spoils them. This is true not only in our human relationships but our relationship with the Lord as well. Most Christians don't have the close relationship with the Lord they should because they are just too lazy to be faithful in Bible study, worship services, reading their Bible, praying, etc.  We said that Laziness spoils relationships.

-Laziness stifles good intentions. Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Because the flesh is weak, our good intentions are often nullified. Have you ever wanted to lose weight? Did you lose weight with just good intentions? If we want to get in better physical or spiritual shape, enrich our marriages, or improve our relationships with our kids, we need more than good intentions. Nothing will improve until we put forth the effort and make the necessary changes.

Proverbs 13:4 says that, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” This means the desires of a lazy person are not fulfilled because he or she is not willing to put forth the necessary effort. We are a nation of "couch potatoes." We are a generation of people, who want everything to be easy, but the most important things in life don't come easily; they take a lot of hard work.

We looked first at the cost of laziness and we said it spoils relationships and stifles good intentions. Now, let's look at...

          -We must Spotlight areas of laziness. Your laziness may be found in your family relationships, your relationship with God, your money management, etc. Spotlighting areas of laziness may require praying the prayer of Job in Job 6:24 where he said, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” The Lord knows our weaknesses and we need to come to Him in prayer asking for help.

-We must Seek God's forgiveness. Honestly confess laziness as the sin it is. Ask God to forgive you for all the opportunities you have squandered. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

-We must not procrastinate. Procrastination will only allow time for things to get worse. "One of these days" really means "none of these days." We are always going to make changes "tomorrow." Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Don't wait for a better time. We often try to cover up our laziness by saying we are waiting for a better opportunity. The person who really wants to change finds a way, but the person who doesn't really want to change always finds an excuse. We are all good at making excuses. Benjamin Franklin said: "People who are good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else."

About what have you been making excuses? A good way to find out is to fill in the following blank: "One of these days I'm going to________________________________________." Ecclesiastes 11:4 tells us that, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” In other words, if you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. What will it take for you to make that important change you've been putting off? All the good intentions in the world will not make any difference.

Paul encouraged the believers in Rome with these words from Romans 13:11-14, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

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