All Take, No Give

In our study of what the book of Proverbs says about laziness, we have discovered two unpleasant character traits common to sluggards. We have also considered practical ways to address these flaws. Today, we learn how a prototypical lazy person handles relationships. (You have undoubtedly seen these characteristics in others. Maybe you’ve been guilty at times?)

  1. The sluggard takes a costly toll on others.

He also who is slack in his work
Is brother to him who destroys. (18:9)

As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself . . . [and] any man’s death diminishes me.”1 This could well be rendered “No one is an island entire of itself, and anyone’s laziness diminishes me.” So much of what we try to accomplish as individuals depends on the efforts of others. When one person fails to pay a bill, everyone in the family is affected. When one team member slacks off, the others must add that person’s work to the list of their own responsibilities. A lazy employee doesn’t simply hold an organization back, but also undermines coworkers’ motivation and drive. A lazy player doesn’t merely weaken the team, but also saps its spirit and deflates its confidence. A lazy pastor doesn’t merely limit a church, but also undercuts its passion. Before long, everyone must do more to compensate for a sluggard’s negative influence.

And if that weren’t difficult enough . . .

  1. The sluggard is usually defensive.

The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven men who can give a discreet answer. (26:16)

You have undoubtedly heard the infinite creativity of a lazy person’s rationalizing. This can be seen quite often in a game called “You Can’t Solve My Problem.” For every suggestion made, the sluggard always has a reason why that won’t work, a credible argument as to why that solution will not help. Unfortunately, this clever ability to cover up or explain away keeps the lazy person from coming to terms with reality.

Let’s face facts. We’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another, and all of us will likely face this temptation again. So, what’s the solution if you find yourself playing the part of a sluggard? In a word: selflessness. Laziness is selfish thinking. Get over yourself, think about the people around you, empathize with their struggles. Doing your job well is a great way to ease other people’s burdens. If completing your tasks brings no personal satisfaction, be satisfied that your diligence benefits others.

  1. John Donne, The Works of John Donne, D.D.: With a Memoir of His Life, Vol. III, ed. Henry Alford (London: John W. Parker, West Strand, 1839), 575.

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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