October 17, 2011

Day 17: Are You a Sluggard at Heart Like I Am?

We are half-way through October!  Keep your eyes peeled for an end-of-month book give-away next Monday; winners will be announced on the 31st.  I love books!!

I'm getting to this post late today because I figured I'd better try practicing what I was about to "preach."  So rather than spend time today putzing around here, I actually applied myself to my work.  What a concept!  It was satisfying to know that I was doing what was right for me at the moment, rather than giving into the laziness, and some of the tasks even went more quickly than I expected, leaving time to post tonight and spend some time with the husband.  Bonus!

Now, what you've all been waiting for: some thoughts on laziness/sloth.

animals, sloth watching TV, entertainmentReading monthly through the Proverbs this year has highlighted my bent toward laziness and caused me to stop and think about the cost ... and then (sometimes) check my behavior and choose diligence.  In the Proverbs, the title given to the lazy individual is sluggard.  Quite a word, huh?  Some examples:

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest -
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 6:9-10
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.  Proverbs 13:4 
sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.  Proverbs 20:4 
The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.  Proverbs 20:25 

I went past the field of the sluggard,    past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;  thorns had come up everywhere,    the ground was covered with weeds,    and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed    and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber,    a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit    and scarcity like an armed man.Proverbs 24:30-34

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.  Proverbs 26:15

The imagery here is so vivid and apt.  The sluggard reaps what he sows ... and he's not sown much, apparently.  And yet can find himself surprised at his own poverty and need.

I really do not want to label myself a sluggard, but if I'm honest with you and with myself, the tug to be a sluggard rather than a diligent individual is strong (and often wins) in my life.  This is especially true with the television, internet, email, Facebook, blogs, etc.  These elements of technology are wonderful!  It is easy, however, to use them as an excuse to avoid other things that should take precedent at certain times.

In college, I had a professor accuse me of being accurately asses me as a "closet slacker."  Oh snap!  That was like a knife in the heart of that people-pleasing, performance-oriented young woman.  He was so dead on, that I could not really argue with the statement.  On the outside I wanted to appear diligent, enthusiastic, and industrious.  But I was always trying to find the easiest way to do things or hoping I could get out of what I needed to or volunteered to do.  Dear me.

The temptation then, of course, is to try to prove you one's self and others that you're not lazy, to really work hard and "show them!"  One big thing I want you to take away from this post is that avoiding sluggardly laziness does not mean working all the time, never resting, never going out with friends or family, and turning in the Martha of all Marthas!  Nope.  As is our custom in this 31-day series, we're dealing with the heart and how it needs to be transformed.  For we can be hard at work without our heart being in it - thanks for that line, Andrew Carnegie - longing to be on the phone, checking Facebook, at the beach, or in bed!  And we can be on vacation, out with friends, even sitting for dinner with our family, fretting about how we're not accomplishing anything.

A verse comes to mind:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  I Corinthians 10:31

My attitude while at work or play is not often solely motivated by bringing glory to God.  How about yours?  And yet how would that transform both?  For God can be honored in our eating and drinking, our waking and sleeping, our working and playing.  It's a heart attitude that I think could make both work and rest more satisfying, rewarding, and fulfilling.

In our days, then, we must listen to our heart.  What is the wisdom of the Spirit telling us about how we should use each segment of the day?  Are we working when we should be resting?  Are we resting when we should be working?  Dear Father, forgive us.  Teach us to listen, to trust, and to obey.

On-going laziness has its rewards ... as described in the Proverbs, they're detrimental.  Likewise, diligence comes with rewards.  Does it not feel good to fall into bed at night knowing that you've fulfilled your obligations, run the race well, sought to do your best in each moment, accomplished a project or at least made headway?  And isn't rest and relaxation after a good day's or week's or season's work just that much sweeter?  When we try to mingle the two (a terribly bad habit of mine), neither the work God's gives nor the rest He's promised are what they could be.  In fact, we're usually left deeply wanting in both areas of life.  Dear Father, help us to strike a balance as we seek FIRST after you.

So, what do you say?  Will you join me in rising to the call to be diligent for the glory of God also to rest to the glory of God?  I wonder what life will be like as God changes our hearts to desire to do whatever we do for His glory?  Little tastes of heaven, whetting our appetite for the real thing!

This is Part 17 of a month-long series you can learn more about by starting with Day 1 here.  There are many others doing super cool series this month as well, perhaps you'd like to see the list?


  1. Heather, yes, I am a sluggard. In fact, one of my prayers for myself is to not be lazy. Doing things God's way is restful, even if it is busy! I want to find the rest in the busyness.
    Thankful for your faithful application of the gospel to our lives, Heather!

  2. Hi Heather! I saw your post and just had to comment! My blog/website is all about my road/highway/path to find myself among the upright! I am a "recovering sluggard" and enjoy writing how I am discovering my true purpose in life, the one God wants me to have, through obtaining my freedom from sluggerdom. I really enjoyed going through your pages! You are a joy!

  3. Cathryn, thanks for commenting and for your encouragement! This month has been really fun, but quite an experience to keep up with so much writing. It's meant I'm having trouble keeping up with others' blogs, even my friends! I'll be poking around your pages a little more soon.

    Take care, fellow recovering sluggard! :)