Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, o sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? (Proverbs 6:6–9—NKJV)

Little boys study bugs. There is a certain fascination and joy garnered by seeing how bugs behave. Ants seem always busy, intent, on a mission, and their vaunted strength is legendary. (Imagine if a man, pound for pound, were able to lift as much as an ant!) Slugs also hold our interest as they move ponderously slow, leave a slimy trail, and almost universally excite disgust. It is their glacial slowness that allows us to apply their name to the human behavior of laziness and slothfulness.

Just like slugs, there are no admirable synonyms for laziness. Indolent, slow, sluggish, indifferent, unmotivated, poky, idle, lethargic, and languid are never considered virtues. It is human nature to pursue idleness every chance we get. A mark of maturity, and definitive of manliness, is taking the initiative energetically. A study of slothfulness in the Scriptures leads to a fuller understanding of the maturity to which God calls each one of us.

Most of the uses of slothfulness/sluggardliness are found in the book of Proverbs. The first thing that stands out, upon a quick review of the verses, is that there is a great deal of personal loss and waste because of laziness. Proverbs 21:25 reads, “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” and 19:24 states, “a lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.” Solomon propounds that there is something of a stupor that laziness promotes in a person: “laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” (19:15) It appears that a habitually lazy person begins to think differently and therefore becomes self destructive. Proverbs 18:9 reads, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” and 12:27 states, “the lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession.” There is a huge price to laziness as Proverbs 12:24 states, “the hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.”

A maturing work ethic that makes a man a man and a woman a woman is found in the principles that Solomon puts forth.

  • There is a simplicity in getting busy doing the hard thing: (15:19), “the way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.”
  • There is a need to keep your eye on the essential things of life—never lose sight of the essentials: (6:6–11), “go to the ant, you sluggard!…A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”
  • There is never a reason for self-indulgence when there is work to be done (Ecclesiastes 10:18), “because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.”
  • There is always more wisdom you need to learn, wisdom you do not possess: (26:16), “the lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.”
  • There is never a reason to let someone down: (10:26), “as vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.”
  • There is never a reason to quit instead of finish: (13:4), “the soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
  • There is never an excuse: (22:13), “the lazy man says, ‘there is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’”
  • There is never a better time than now: (20:4), “the lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing” and (24:30–34) “I went by the field of the lazy man…all overgrown with thorns…its stone wall broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction.”

Good, Christian work ethic is to chose to do the hard thing with a teachable spirit, energetically taking ownership, and not quit until you have finished. That is biblical maturity. Trust and obey.