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The Anatomy of a Sluggard

A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.
–Proverbs 12:27

The best way to understand productivity–the attitude of maximizing your God-given gifts–is to look at its opposite: slothfulness. The book of Proverbs has a wealth of information about slothfulness.

First, the sluggard refuses to begin a job. The sluggard’s motto is, “Never do today what you can postpone until tomorrow.” That’s his whole life credo. He always finds a reason to procrastinate work that needs to be done today. Proverbs 26:14 says, “As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.” The sluggard can never get himself out of bed–and in the rare event that he does get out of bed, he will find an excuse not to start working. In Proverbs 26:13, the sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!” Now, the chances of a lion being in the open square in Jerusalem are about the same as a zebra walking around your neighborhood. It just didn’t happen. But the sluggard is always finding some preposterous excuse for why he cannot begin doing something.

Now, we have to admit that we all have some of the sluggard in us. Remember when your teacher would assign a term paper, and he’d give you three months to do it? Would you start on the first day working on that project? My wife, Amy, used to do it right away. She was a much more diligent student than I was. But I remember many times saying to Amy, “We have plenty of time to work on this. Who needs three months?” Well, if you were like me, three months suddenly became one month, and then you had a few weeks left. You thought, “Maybe I ought to think about this.” Remember the night before? Suddenly you realize, “I have this major thing due tomorrow!” So you stay up all night and then turn in something that’s half baked, and you swear to yourself, “I’ll never do that again.” Never say never, because we do it again and again. And if you’re not careful, you can carry those same bad habits with you into adulthood. That’s what the sluggard does. He always finds a reason not to begin something.

Second, the sluggard does not complete his work. Proverbs 12:27 says, “A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” The sluggard goes to the effort of killing an animal for his meal that night, but he’s too lazy to cook his meal. And in the event that he does cook the meal, Proverbs 19:24 says, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, but will not even bring it back to his mouth.” That’s lazy. I mean, he goes to the effort of preparing the meal, he sticks his fork in it, and he tries to bring it to his mouth. Then he says, “This takes too much effort.” Too lazy even to put a piece of food in his mouth–that is the sluggard. If he does happen to finish his task, again, it’s mediocre work. His stock phrase is, “It’s good enough.” The word “excellence” is not even in the vocabulary of the sluggard. The mediocre person is satisfied by just getting by.


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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