Laziness sermon ideas

Laziness is disinclination to do anything that requires real effort.

What does the Bible say about laziness?

In Proverbs

  • Proverbs 6:6, "Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise"
  • Proverbs 6:9-11, laziness is like an armed warrior
  • Proverbs 10:26, "Like vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so are the lazy to their employers"
  • Proverbs 18:9, "One who is slack in work is close kin to a vandal"
  • Proverbs 19:24, "The lazy person buries a hand in the dish, and will not even bring it back to the mouth"
  • Proverbs 20:4, "The lazy person does not plow in season; harvest comes, and there is nothing to be found"
  • Proverbs 24:30-31, the field of the lazy person was overgrown with throns
  • Ecclesiastes 10:18, "Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks"

In the parables

New Testament commands

  • Romans 12:11, "Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord"
  • Ephesians 4:28, "Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy"
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, work quietly and earn your own living
  • Hebrews 6:11-12, imitate those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises

Sermon ideas about laziness

It's not hard to figure out why laziness has a bad name in Scripture and Christian tradition. It's a prime species of folly. The proverbs were spoken among farmers and shepherds. To get food they had to till, plant, tend animals and crops. Laziness was a recipe for hunger and poverty — not just for oneself, but also for all one's dependents. Almost nothing — not even survival — could be had without taking pains.

Here's another reason laziness is folly: The lazy person resists work, resents work, detours around work, obsesses over work while avoiding it, and so turns work into something twice as unpleasant as it might otherwise have been if he had simply tackled it. (Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, trans. Norman Denny, Penguin, 1985, p. 793)

In New Testament perspective, laziness is refusal of one's calling. Jesus asked his followers to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew7:7), to "strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). He asked them to "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). At the end of his time on earth Jesus told his followers, then and now, to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19 - 20). In short, Jesus invited all of his followers, including any of us today who believe in him, to participate in the kingdom as its agents, witnesses, and models. But perhaps "invited" is too mild a word. Jesus elected disciples to cure diseases, proclaim the good news of the kingdom, and bear "good fruit (Luke 6:13; 9:1-2; John 15:16.) All these things are hard to do from a recliner.

Christians today fight fires, dam floods, fix teeth, lay tile, preach sermons, repair cars, teach kids, and struggle to get a widow's case to court before her witnesses go stale. Insofar as these things contribute to the general good they are all kingdom tasks. None is possible where laziness reigns.

When Amsterdam's Tugthuis prison opened in 1595, prisoners were admitted and released anonymously so that upon release their adjustment would not be compromised by stigma. In fact, in the earliest days prisoners were sometimes admitted under cover of darkness. But by the 1630s the public was admitted by payment to see the sloths and idlers at hard labor in sawing brazil wood, and the female inmates (prostitutes, vagrants, thieves) spinning. At carnival time admission was free. Throngs could gawk and jeer. "Thus the original attempt to protect prisoners from public ignominy had been completely abandoned. Instead, a rival ethic — both humanist and more bleakly Calvinist — held that the shame incurred in exhibition could be the herald of self-improvement. Worst, the prison had one measure held in reserve for idlers who could not be induced to work by deprivation of meat rations, by whipping with a bull's penis, or other measures. This was the `water house' or `drowning cell,' where prisoners were tethered like asses and forced to pump out the constantly rising water lest they drown in it. It was up to them whether they wanted to work. One visiting economist congratulated the Dutch on `so admirable a contrivance.' Peculiarly appropriate to the Dutch: a kind of moral geography. The punishment was a microcosm of the Dutch experience: `the struggle to survive rising waters.'" (Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, Knopf, 1987, pp. 17-20, 21)

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