“The Hardworking Lazy Person”

“The Hardworking Lazy Person”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

It sounds contradictory to refer to someone as hardworking and lazy, so clarification is necessary. There is a word found eleven times in the New Testament (in the NASB), translated “eager” (once),  “be diligent” (four times), and “make every effort” (six times). It conveys the idea of being conscientious in discharging an obligation (BDAG) and to do something with intense effort and motivation (L-N).  That is a great description of “hardworking.” Its opposite, in biblical terms, is a word translated “careless,” “idle,” “useless,” and “lazy” (cf. Mat. 12:36; 1 Tim. 5:13; Jas. 2:20; etc.). 

There are a great many people who are diligent and industrious when it comes to their occupation, care of their home, physical exercise routine, organizational routines, and various rituals. But can their Bible study habits be described as “diligent” or “lazy”? When we honestly evaluate our relationship to Scripture, do we:

  • Try to rely on things we may have learned or been told in the past?
  • Limit our serious consideration of Scripture to times in the assembly (Bible classes and sermons)?
  • Take a spouse’s, parent’s, friend’s, or preacher’s word on what a Bible verse or teaching means?
  • Approach Bible reading as an obligation, hurried through and skimmed over without digging deeper to understand meaning or how it connects to the rest of the chapter or book? 
  • Fail to meditate, internalize, and make application?
  • Make the sacrifice of time and mental energy to really get to the bottom of what the text is saying?
  • Lack an appetite and interest for reading and studying the Bible?

Why is this such a serious matter? First, it is commanded. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (my emphasis). Do the descriptions above sound like a “diligent workman accurately handling”?

Second, it is divine communication. This is the way God communicates to us, telling us how to live. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God (literally, “God-breathed,” NP) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Adequate here doesn’t mean just enough to get by, but instead means complete, capable, and proficient. Through Scripture, God is telling me how my life will be complete. I don’t want to be incomplete, incapable, and incompetent. 

Finally, it is tied to our eternal destiny. Paul connects the word to the Day of Judgment. In 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Paul solemnly charges Timothy in the presence the Father and Son (1), who will judge everyone, to preach the word (2) to offset those who lack endurance for sound doctrine (3), to oppose those who teach only what people want to hear (3) and who substitute truth with myths (4). While the preacher has this most sobering responsibility to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” the individual can only be protected by being the kind of student called for in 2 Timothy 2:15.

No matter how old we are, how long we’ve been a Christian, or how poorly we’ve done at this in the past, we can change that starting today! There is time and opportunity! Begin the routine now. Get a notebook or open a document on your computer, and get to work on it! It will help you in this life and prepare you for the life to come. Resolve to be a hard-working student of the Bible!

WHO IS A SLUGGARD?

WHO IS A SLUGGARD?

Neal Pollard

The slothful or sluggard man is condemned many times in Proverbs. God treats laziness with contempt. God says the sluggard is so lazy he buried his hand in his food and won’t even bring it back up to his mouth (Prov. 19:24; 26:15)! Since he knows all the answers, he has no need for work (cf. Prov. 26:16). Notice how Proverbs describes him.
HE HAS NO INITIATIVE (Prov. 6:6-11). He lacks the ambition to work, the foresight to plan, and the desire to provide necessities. He is the one who constantly needs a fire lit under him. He cannot conceive of the idea of being a “self-starter.” No doubt, he has difficulty finding and keeping employment. He constantly seeks out the easy way. He is lethargic. A Christian should never lack determination, for there is great purpose in Christ and His love should motivate us to act (Gal. 5:6).
HE’S UNRELIABLE AND IRRESPONSIBLE (Prov. 10:26). He cannot be entrusted with a task. His word means little. His effort is sub par. The verse says, “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.” Are there ever sluggards in the church, who promise involvement, pledge support, talk up church plans, but never or irregularly produce? They make promises, but people quickly learn not to expect of them. The sluggard forgets that his or her words mean something (cf. Matt. 12:36-37). Too, Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16,20).
HE HAD RATHER WISH THAN WORK (Prov. 13:4). He is long on cravings, short on diligence. Therefore, he spends his life in a dream world. Someone said, “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.” The lazy man is a poor steward of his time (Eph. 5:16) and his mind. Dreams alone are vanity (cf. Ecc. 5:7).
HE WANTS BENEFIT WITHOUT INVESTMENT (Prov. 20:4). He wants something for nothing. This proverbs says that the sluggard goes hungry because he won’t hitch up the team in plowing season. He wants to eat, but he doesn’t want to work for it. Paul suggests that such should not be allowed a spot at the dinner table (cf. 2 Thess. 3:11-12). What about churches that want growth without evangelism? Or individuals who want success without self-discipline? Anything worthwhile requires effort!
There may be a bit of sluggard in us all. The tendency to slough off is often tempting. The devil will surely use idleness to try and defeat the cause of Christ. What sagacity is found in doing with all the might what the hand finds to do (Ecc. 9:10)!