I continue to find examples throughout the scriptures of warning against laziness. Maybe it is why “sloth” is one of the 7 deadly sins. Here, Solomon uses a couple examples from different positions in life of why and how laziness does no good for anyone.
16 Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. 19 Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.
Solomon starts off by talking about rulers, that those who first desire their own happiness and not of those they lead will lead to the ruin of the land. A position of leadership is meant to be one of servanthood, not privilege. I’ve discussed servant leadership before; here Solomon highlights what happens if leaders instead use their position for personal gain. How is this laziness? It’s easier to fatten yourself than it is to fatten others. Simply put, selfishness is laziness and it leads to the ruin of others you are charged with protecting and providing for.
Next, in verse 18 and 19, Solomon points out laziness of “the common man”: one who doesn’t simply take care of his own household. The King James word for “indolence” is “slothfulness”. It’s interesting that God has brought this to my attention today because after a week of vacation, I don’t want to do anything. I have little desire to make appointments, study my schoolwork, have meetings, or take care of my own responsibilities. Solomon is telling us that if we do not follow through with our simple responsibilities of maintaining our household, it will simply fall apart. He exemplifies this in 19 by demonstrating men who just enjoy themselves all the time without taking care of the necessities. This is how we behave; we cling to our addictions trying to make ourselves happy and forget the disarray of our lives while everything around us falls apart. We are dissatisfied with the state of our lives but instead of doing something about it, we try to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Lastly, we see what I consider the ultimate sign of laziness: complaining. In the Marine Corps, we are taught not to complain about something unless we have a solution to the problem. This tenet of “leading up” towards our leaders has helped me keep my mouth shut on numerous occasions. I might not like what is going on but if I’m not willing or able to suggest a way to better the situation, then I have no right to complain about it. Can you imagine how less stressful work would be if everyone followed this rule? Solomon in verse 20 calls out complainers. Not only will their complaining not accomplish anything, but word spreads and those they complain about will eventually find out about it. Complaining just makes things worse.
My mantra for my life in disagreeable situations has been, “so what are you gonna do about it?” It helps me not become encumbered by the problem but rather focus on finding a solution. Granted, the solutions we find might not always be the best answer, but ignoring the problem or complaining about it isn’t going to change anything for the better. One of my pastors likes to say, “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Our society continues to morph into one of entitlement and expectation without the desire to do anything about the problems we face. How must you combat laziness in your life? When will you decide to stop being a part of the problem and start being a part of the solution?