Scott LaPierre Ministries

Scott LaPierre Ministries

How to Avoid Spiritual Laziness (Hebrews 12:4)

May 22, 2023

When we hear the word lazy, we almost always think physically, but what about spiritually (Hebrews 12:4)? Read or listen to this chapter from Work and Rest God’s Way to see how to avoid spiritual laziness.

Table of contentsThe Dangers of Spiritual LazinessA Field (or Life) Overgrown with Thorns and WeedsDon’t Rest on Previous Labor to Avoid Spiritual LazinessLaziness Toward Spiritual DisciplinesLaziness Toward Temptation and SinMental LazinessBe Encouraged by Christ's Second Coming to Avoid Spiritual LazinessFootnotes

When we hear the word “lazy,” we might immediately think of an unemployed forty year old living in his parents’ basement, or people on welfare who are capable of working. They’re physically lazy, but what about spiritual laziness? We aren’t sleeping in bed all day or standing on street corners asking for money, but are there other ways we’re lazy, such as spiritually?

The Dangers of Spiritual Laziness

The following verses begin with another strong criticism of physical laziness, but they introduce a spiritual application that we’re wise to consider:

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man (Proverbs 24:30–34).

The end of these verses is repeated from Proverbs 6:10–11. God wants to make sure we don’t miss two points. First, there’s a strong association between sleep and laziness. Second, unexpected disaster awaits the lazy.

The words “saw…considered…looked” reveal that the father studied the field owned by the lazy man who lacks sense (devoid of understanding), just as he earlier instructed his son to study the ant. Wise people learn by observation, and just as we can learn from good examples (the ant), we can also learn from bad examples (the lazy man).

The lazy man’s neglect is evident by the shambles and overgrown weeds infesting his property. The dilapidated state leaves the owner without profit. The owner is responsible for the ruin of his own field, depicting the way lazy people ruin whatever they encounter. Proverbs 18:9 says, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to (or is like) him who is a great destroyer.” What exactly do lazy people destroy, or waste, besides fields they own? Two things: the talents God has given them and the time of people investing in them.

Lazy people do such a bad job “working” that whatever they do will have to be thrown out or done again. They’re more work than help. A sluggard is painful as an employee; no boss wants an inefficient sluggard who won’t get the job done. Proverbs 10:26 says, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.” Vinegar in our mouths and smoke in our eyes isn’t deadly, but it is annoying, just like a lazy employee.

A Field (or Life) Overgrown with Thorns and Weeds

Thorns appear in the sluggard’s life like they appear in his field. In both cases, he’s too lazy to remove them: “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns” (Proverbs 15:19).

A field representing a person’s life is a common metaphor in Scripture. Jesus told the parable of the sower with the different soils (fields) representing different people (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Regarding the ways God used Paul and Apollos in people’s lives, Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field” (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9). When God described the work His Word does in people’s lives, He said:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud,