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Laziness (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2023 4:00 am

Laziness (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 22, 2023 4:00 am

Contemporary culture values an easy life. In fact, many inventions are inspired by the desire to lighten the daily workload. The Bible, however, urges us to resist idleness. Learn what Proverbs teaches about laziness, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Music playing We live in a culture that places a high value on chilling, living a life of ease. In fact, many inventions are inspired by the desire to lighten the daily workload and increase our leisure time. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us to resist idleness. Today on Truth for Life Weekend, Alistair Begg is examining what the book of Proverbs has to say about laziness. Music playing Well, can I invite you to take your Bibles again and turn to the book of Proverbs?

I'll be referring to a number of places. If your fingers are nimble, then you can let them do the work. If they're not, then you can perhaps check later to see that the things that I'm saying are actually in the Bible. But it's always good to keep your Bible open so that you can see that what's being said actually emerges from the text. I'm not here to give a talk, some dissertation, share with you things that I've been discovering as I read various magazines and whatnot. I want to be the servant of the text. I want to go in the kitchen, as it were, get the food and bring it out. I'm not responsible to force-feed you with it, and I haven't come on roller skates or with special bells that ring. I just want to be faithful to the task, and I hope that you will eat and be satisfied. God provides the food, of course. The book of Proverbs is fantastic.

There's no question of that. You can read it and read it and read it and never think that you've learned it. I found my mother reading the book of Proverbs frequently when I was a boy, and the more I've read it now in adulthood, I'm sure she was looking for strength and wisdom and courage in order to cope, at least with me, her one son. It is an intensely practical book. You find in the book of Proverbs, if you like, godliness in working clothes. There's no sense in which, in reading the book of Proverbs, it would appear that a godly life is somehow or another removed from the everyday events of our journey. But rather, we look into the book, and we find that it is intensely practical, it is actually distinctly uncomfortable, and it is immensely profitable. We're looking over these few Sundays that we have in these summer days at a number of subjects which emerge quite naturally and obviously from the text. I felt that it would be profitable for us to address the subject of laziness.

Laziness. Now, I don't want you to nudge the person next to you as if somehow or another it was perfect for them. That kind of deflection will come back and bite you. But resist the temptation to immediately stab your teenage son in the back with a word, See, I told you that you should come this morning. This one is definitely for you. Be careful of that.

Do be careful. The book of Proverbs describes the lazy person as the sluggard. The sluggard. Not a very contemporary word, but quite a good word. It is defined by the dictionary as one who is habitually lazy or habitually inactive.

They have determined a lifestyle that is framed, essentially, by indolence and by inactivity. What I want to do, then, is to look at this individual. He's described as the sluggard. First of all, we'll take a look at his lifestyle. We can't say everything about him but something. Then we're going to drive past his house and look at his vineyard, and then finally we're going to ask ourselves the question, just in what ways does the cap fit, as it were, in relationship to this most important of subjects? Well, first of all, then, let's consider his lifestyle. We can summarize it under a number of headings. I'll give them to you.

If you take notes, you might find it helpful. First of all, by looking at chapter 26 and verse 13 and following, we are able to recognize that the sluggard is hinged to his bed. Hinged to his bed.

Verse 14 of Proverbs 26 says, As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. He doesn't merely enjoy his bed. He's stuck to his bed. He has, if you like, in graphic terms, two slots in his back which have been perfectly created to fit into the hinges on his bed, and when he gets himself into them and into the correct position, he is capable of movement, limited movement. He can turn to his left or he can turn to his right, but that's about it.

He absolutely loves it. He makes movement but no progress. Where you found him at seven in the morning, you can find him later at eleven in the morning and perhaps at three in the afternoon.

This individual does not like to be approached directly. He doesn't like questions that say, Will you do this? and are followed up by, When are you planning on doing it? He doesn't like someone to come, as in the words of verse 9 of chapter 6 and say, How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

When will you get up from your sleep? He never actually refuses to do anything. He just puts it off bit by bit. He deceives himself into thinking that he will get round to it. But by minutes, small increments of time, by minutes and by inches, this individual, he or she, allows opportunity just to slip away. Secondly, this individual, hinged to his bed, is happy making excuses for his indolence.

Indeed, as you read the Proverbs, you discover that he's quite ingenious at inventing excuses. Now, we see this in all kinds of ways. Our children come dashing home from school on the last day of school, throw their bag down, never want to see it again in their lives, and immediately launch themselves into the opportunities of summer.

And parental responsibility is such that we drive them here, we drive them there, we drive them everywhere. We sit and get eaten by mosquitoes all through the night, as we watch them miss again and again their endeavors to try and connect with a softball with the bat which we brought them only a few days before. Finally, we drag ourselves home, and it isn't long before one of them emerges at breakfast time—which can be anywhere between nine o'clock in the morning and three in the afternoon—emerges at breakfast time to say, You know, I'm bored. I'm bored. And so we say, Well, why don't you cut the grass? And I've found that the cutting of the grass cures boredom immensely and immediately and also produces the most ingenious excuses that you've ever heard in your life. The individual who has no mind to work, the individual who doesn't want to work, never lacks for excuses for their idleness if inside of them they have no desire to engage in endeavor. And incidentally, in the New Testament, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians that part of the responsibility of the pastor is to warn the idol, to encourage the timid, to help the weak, but to warn the idol. Paul says to Timothy, Make sure that people understand that if they don't work, they shouldn't eat. So that this call to endeavor is not unique to the book of Proverbs or to the Old Testament. You find it all the way out.

And when you look at the lazy individual, they're ingenious in excusing their indolence. For example, still in chapter 26, verse 13, the sluggard says, There's a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming in the streets. No, there's not. Why don't you cut the grass?

There's a lion in the backyard. No, there isn't. Where did you get that from? Well, the lazy person has managed to convince himself or herself of acts and facts that are completely nonexistent. And the longer they go in filling their mind with that kind of thing, they have imaginary reasons for their inactivity, and these imaginary reasons finally convince them of the fact that they can rationalize the fact that they don't get up. Of course, the real danger is not the imaginary lion in the street.

The real danger is the roaring lion, the devil, who loves to come and lull people into indolence and defeat. Hinged to his bed, happy to make excuses. Thirdly, hopeless at completing things. Hopeless at completing things.

Chapter 12 and verse 27. The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions. Why doesn't he roast his game?

Well, perhaps because he never got his game. He set off to hunt, and as he began to hunt, he may even shot the thing or pierced it with an arrow, and then he said, Oh, I'm not going over there for that. It was enough fun firing the arrow at it. Let somebody else pick it up. Or he dragged the sory carcass home and laid it against the side of the shed, and his wife asked him, Are we ever going to eat this? And he said, Yeah, we're going to eat it. Don't bug me. I shot it, didn't I? I'll get round to it. And somewhere in the heart of winter, a sory carcass, a skeletal structure, sticks its head out over the snow as a silent testimony to the fact that the lazy man gives up opportunity moment by moment, inch by inch, and he is confronted by the fact that he is hopeless at completing things.

If you look at 19 and 24, you find the same statement that is in 2615. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish. He will not even bring it back to his mouth.

What a picture! He'd rather enjoy his laziness than his food. So you sit him down to eat, and there he goes. And he digs in, and he says, Oh, I don't know if I want to eat this. Now, let's be honest, gentlemen.

Our wives leave us alone. They stack the freezer, they do all the business, they go out, they get it perfect, they leave the list, they stick it where it's supposed to be, and they tell us, All you need to do, all you need to do is take this out, pierce this, put it in here, and hey, before you know it, you'll be eating wonderfully well. I've been on my own now for ten days, and I can tell you that I am not eating gourmet food.

If were it not for Cinnamon Life and my toaster, I'm not exactly sure where I'd be. Why? Because I understand how easy it is to be lazy. The effort involved seems so demanding. I mean, all of that piercing of the bag and pressing the microwave—I mean, that's work!

And plus, you have to wait for it! And who knows what's happening to you while you're waiting for it, standing so close to all that radiation? No, give me the Cinnamon Life.

I'll be fine. You go in the house that's populated by five university students, open the refrigerator, and what do you see? Nothing! Some old jar of peanut butter that looks as though it's been infested by creatures from outer space, a half-finished ketchup, and an old bottle of water.

You say, What do I give you money for? It's a picture of laziness. And without wishing to be crass or indiscreet, the classic illustration of being unwilling to complete a simple task is surely to be found in the average bathroom. You sit down. You look at the toilet roll holder. And what is there?

A cardboard tube. Now I ask you, what is so difficult about this? In our house, there's no magic to it. We don't even have to stand up. It's a right-left movement. You go here, you bring it there, you unhook that, you drop it in the waste paper, you put it on, you're done.

Everybody knows that. And yet there it sits. A silent testimony to indolence. The same person is not only hinged to his bed, happy with excuses, hopeless at finishing things, but he's also hungry for fulfillment. The lazy person will always be hungry for fulfillment. His cravings will always be unfulfilled.

The desire, says Solomon 21 25, the desire of the sluggard kills him because his hands refuse to labor. He knows that he would love to have that. He knows what's involved in getting there, but he doesn't want to do it. And it is his laziness that short-circuits him.

The soul of the sluggard, 13 4, the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing. Not because he can't, but because he won't. He's made a habit of the soft choice. He says, I can't plow, it's too cold. And yet he will hope that he might reap. You can't reap if you don't sow and you don't plow. And fifthly, the final tragedy of this individual is that he is proud in his own self-assessment. That's the significance of the sixteenth verse of Proverbs 26. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly. In other words, he regards himself as something of a genius. He scorns his friends who are working hard. He believes himself to have found the key to learning without any inconvenient exertion. And if you stay there in verse 16, you will notice that he is the last to see his own features. He's got a blind spot here.

He's no idea that he's lazy. In verse 13, he says, I'm not a shirker. I'm a realist.

There's a lion in the streets. Wrong. In verse 14, I'm not self-indulgent. I'm just not at my best in the morning. Funnily enough, you didn't look real good in the afternoon. And as I saw you in the evening, you weren't looking particularly filled with endeavor then either.

In verse 15, his inertia—burying his hand in the dish, too lazy to bring it back to his mouth—is just an objection to people hustling him. Don't hustle me. I'll finish when I'm ready. There's no rush. What's the big problem here?

I'll get round to it. And I don't want to be unkind to teenagers. But if a teenage boy and a teenage girl do not seriously address this in their developmental adolescent years, they may give themselves a mountain to climb that is greater than they will ever conquer. Because they burn into their psyche tracks and mentalities that will be for them their natural default path whenever they move forward in their lives. And the picture here is comic, but it is also tragic.

And we should not allow the comedic aspect of it to prevent us from recognizing just how tragic it is. Hinged to the bed, happy with excuse, hopeless at completing things, hungry for fulfillment, and ultimately, haughty in my opinion of myself. Well, that's kind of representative of his lifestyle. Now, more briefly, let's take a drive past his house. Chapter 24, and verse 30 and following. Let's view his vineyard. "'I went past the field of the sluggard,' verse 30, "'past the vineyard of the man who likes judgment.'

Thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins." So his approach to life has paid its dividends. We go past this house, we say either there is no one living in that house, or the person is unwell within it or has been removed on account of illness, or the person within it is frankly lazy.

Any one of those deductions would be valid. Samuel Johnson has an immense quote on laziness. I'll give it to you. It's not an easy quote, but you're a very intelligent group.

You'll get this without difficulty. He says, "'Indolence' is one of the vices from which those whom it once infects are seldom reformed. Every other species of luxury operates upon some appetite that is quickly satisfied and requires some concurrence of art or accident which every place will not supply." In other words, if we have a craving for eating tubs of peaches, once you get a tub of peaches, you eat fourteen of them, it pretty well is satisfied.

And furthermore, if you have a craving for peaches and you're somewhere where there are no peaches, then you're gonna have to be involved in some skillful art or in creating some context so that you can satisfy that desire. That's true in most of these things. But laziness doesn't need that. You can be lazy anywhere, anytime, without any help at all. Because laziness is nothingness. Laziness is defaulting to sleep and to just abject confusion.

He goes on. But the desire of ease acts equally at all hours. And the longer it is indulged, it is the more increased. To do nothing is in every man's power. We can never want an opportunity of omitting duties. The lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible, because it is only a mere cessation of activity.

But the return to diligence is difficult, because it implies a change from rest to motion, from privation to reality. Everybody who has ever engaged in an exercise program knows this is the case. It takes no difficulty at all when the time comes around, whether it's an alarm ringing or whether it's somebody coming and calling on us, to say, Okay, I think I'll just stay here. It doesn't matter where here is.

You can be in your house, you can be on the road, you can be in a hotel. Okay, I think I'll just stay here. And the more that we develop patterns of, Okay, I don't think I'll do this, oh, I don't think I'll apply myself, oh, I think I'll get round to it later, whatever else it is, we begin to establish a track for ourselves. On the day we determine to change, what a mountain we climb. We were running whatever it was. We were able to talk as we ran. We were able to increase our speed or decrease our speed. We could, within the limits of our own exercise program, do well. And then we said, Okay, I don't think so. No, I don't think so.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. And now, suddenly we decided we'll go again. We thought we'd start where we were. We didn't start where we were.

We'd only gone 150 yards and we were walking. We couldn't talk to our wives because we were completely exhausted and out of breath. Our neighbor up the street wants to know why we're not speaking.

It's because we can't speak. And here's the thing. The real issue about this and the real tragedy of the man's house is that laziness is not an infirmity. Laziness is a sin. God made us to work. Indeed, six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord. And the contemporary quest for leisure feeds on indolence, feeds on a mentality which says, Nobody's gonna tell me what to do or when to work.

I will just order my own program, and my desire in life is to reduce this six to as small a number as I can. And I'm certainly not interested in this one day of worship and rest and study and so on. All I want to do, all I want to do is have some fun. Sorry, that's Cheryl Crow. That just came out from nowhere. Sorry.

On the Santa Monica Boulevard. That's all I want to do. And I'll do it when I want, and I'll do it with who I want, and don't anybody talk to me about anything. The Christian is supposed to be radically different from that. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend. That is Alistair Begg sharing practical lessons on laziness from the book of Proverbs. We'll hear more next weekend in a series titled Wise Words. Have you ever found yourself wondering if you're really forgiven for all you've done or for the things you've failed to do? Is your salvation a sure thing?

Well, the answer to both of those questions for a committed follower of Jesus is an emphatic yes. We want to recommend to you today a book titled Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation, to help quell any doubts you might have. The book Assurance is a 31-day devotional that addresses many of the thoughts we often face about our eternal destiny. In fact, it explains that our enemy, Satan, loves to tempt us with skeptical thoughts. But as you read what God affirms about salvation, you'll know for certain that your doubts are unfounded.

Learn more about the book Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation when you visit our website at truthforlife.org. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. We're glad you included us in your weekend. Join us again next weekend for the conclusion of today's message. We may joke about laziness, but find out why it's ultimately tragic and needs to be diligently resisted in all aspects of our lives. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 04:41:05 / 2023-04-22 04:50:03 / 9

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