In every culture you have those you would consider “a low life.” These people are just about on par with vermin in the eyes of most people.
God also has his scoundrels. Chief among them is the sluggard. With stinging vehemence Proverbs 6:9 raves, “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?”
No, this isn’t your mother trying to get you out of bed for school. This is God expressing his utter disdain for slothfulness.
Be clear though: The sluggard is not condemned because he sleeps. He is rebuked because he sleeps too much. He is in love with sleeping.
God made us in such a way that we become weary, so rest is a necessity. We need to sleep so that we might be properly refreshed and enabled to fulfill our God given tasks. You could say that it is part of our God given call to rest periodically.
God knows how enjoyable rest is for us. Psalm 127 talks about how God grants the pleasure of a good night’s sleep to those he loves. Moreover, God has designated a whole day for the purpose of rest. For six days we are to fulfill our regular employments. But on the Lord’s Day [Sunday] we set these aside to give our bodies a break and refresh our spirits in worship.
But as with all of God’s creation, we must remember that we can abuse our “R&R.” When our recreations intrude upon our occupations we no longer sleep to the glory of God. When sleep exceeds its rightful parameters we sin.
Of course the parameters for our rest can change and be different for each of us. If you are sick or infirm, obviously you need more rest. God has called you, at that point, to recuperate. But rest should never impinge upon our daily callings when we can rightfully execute them.
In our day the Christian virtue of diligence is becoming a rare and valuable thing. This is because we live in a pleasure loving society. People love not working.
Ask any employer what is the biggest problem they have with their employees. I bet you will find that it is having people who are late to work or who are not diligent in their work.
Recently a news cast reported that businesses in America loose a staggering amount of money each year. It wasn’t because of a market recession; it was because of a work recession.
Thousands of dollars are lost because coworkers chatter while “on the clock.” Duties are neglected as employees sit in their cubicles and surf the internet while the boss is not looking. Productivity becomes low because laborers stretch break time a few minutes longer each day. Idleness is fleecing America.
But sloth is not limited to the 9-5 job. Sloth is especially evident in our calling to godliness. We are to work out our faith with fear and trembling, but more often we fizzle out. Prayer is skipped because of the snooze button; worship is skipped because of a football game. Worship is missed (though you be in the pew) because you caught a severe case of Saturday night fever.
We must remember that every activity under heaven has its season—even rest and recreation. But pleasure should never overstep its rightful boundary.
God allows us enjoyments, but we must enjoy them in the way God wants and to the degree he wants. Then we must promptly take up our regular employments, doing them with the requisite diligence. Neglecting our daily callings in life stirs God’s indignation.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.