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How Do You Recognize a Sluggard?

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
–Proverbs 14:23

How do you recognize a sluggard or recognize any characteristics that might make you a sluggard? The book of Proverbs gives us some definite characteristics of a sluggard.

The sluggard ignores opportunities. Proverbs 24 describes a sluggard who was sleeping at the wrong time. He should have been preparing his vineyard for the harvest, preparing the ground, and planting seeds so that when the harvest time came, there was something to harvest. But the sluggard didn’t do that. People who are lazy view opportunities as a train: “Oh, there’ll be another one in five minutes. If I miss this opportunity, there will be another opportunity.” That’s what this sluggard did. He said, “I’ve got plenty of time to plant seeds and till the land. If I miss the planting time this year, there is always next year.” But a productive person understands how rare opportunities are. How many times have you heard somebody say something like, “If only I had invested in the XYZ company stock twenty years ago I would be wealthy today”? Well, why didn’t you do something about it? A sluggard thinks that opportunities will always be there. But opportunities don’t come often. A productive person takes advantage of them.

The sluggard also craves riches. He doesn’t like work, but he likes the rewards of work. He wants wealth to buy the things he craves. Since the sluggard is not willing to work, how does he get the money? He short-circuits the process by looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. By the way, Proverbs has something to say about that. Proverbs 28:20 says, “He who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.” Do you know people who are always talking about their next big deal that, with no effort and little money, is going to make them rich? They talk about it, but they never do anything. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.” May I share with you something I’ve observed as a pastor for forty years? Laziness is never compartmentalized. I have never found somebody who is lazy in his work but diligent in his relationship with God. If a person is lazy, then that laziness infects every area of his life. Look at the way he keeps his home, look at his work, or look at his finances. They are all a mess. Look at his relationship with God. He puts in very little effort. The sluggard usually becomes a slave to sin in his life.

Slothfulness is an attitude that is indifferent toward the talent, the time, the resources, and the opportunities God has entrusted to us. Slothfulness leads to a life of dissatisfaction and poverty in this life and the loss of rewards in the next life.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Productivity Over Laziness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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