All through my formative years my father and other authority figures railed quite mercilessly against what they called being lazy. According to them, laziness was about as close to the unpardonable sin as a human could possibly get without being burned by hell’s blaze. The lesson for me was, "With all thy getting, get as far away from laziness as possible."
These authority figures backed up their opinions about laziness with a fervor of work bordering on the frenzy. Just suggest that perhaps they were leaning towards, just a little bit lazy, and boy, would they explode in a ferocity of work leaving everybody in their smoke. They will even work on their day off.
Instead of relaxing and having fun, these lazy-challenged people spend all their time and energy working zealously as though everything depended upon them getting something done on time.
One of the great sayings of these lazy-challenged people is, "If the Devil finds a man idle, he'll set him at work." This, as everybody knows is an old Scottish proverb. The meaning is quite simple. If you do not find something to fill your mind, the devil will fill it for you.
Now here is the problem as I see it. All of these authority figures are confusing the issue. "Lazy," and "idle," are not synonymous. Someone may have a very idle mind while his hands are busy doing something. Moreover, the lazy person may have a mind more active than other people, but with his hands folded on his lap.
Being idle is one thing but being lazy is something altogether different.
There is another saying not quite as popular but goes something like this, "If you want something done quickly and efficiently find a lazy man to do it."
A man with an idle mind is someone who is not doing anything productive but wasting a lot of time and energy doing it. And I can see why this could be a very tempting sphere of operation for the devil. If anybody sees an empty workshop with some fine machinery but nobody is working it, the temptation is to help yourself. Nothing is more unnerving than seeing something go to waste. An idle man, however, does not care about those things.
A lazy man is rather different. He refuses to waste anything, especially energy, particularly his own. To compare this lazy man with the lazy-challenged man is quite an eye-opener.
The lazy-challenged person wastes more energy and accomplished less than any other category of man. With such a fear of being labeled lazy, they will spin their wheels frantically and accomplish precious little to show for their effort. Activity, yes. Lots of it. So much so that their smoke gets in your eyes.
On the other hand, the lazy person takes a different approach to the matter at hand. Before cranking up into full work mode, he sits down to ponder the whole matter and plans his strategy. Thinking is his specialty.
One thing a lazy man knows is this, some things if put off long enough do not have to be done at all. This is a great savings of energy in the long run. Other people would frantically try to accomplish and finish everything that comes across their desk immediately.
The curse of "immediately," is that very few things need to be done immediately. Somehow, people have gotten the weird notion that if something needs to be done; it needs to be done immediately. But most things are like a fine wine. It takes a lot of aging before it is ready to drink. I like what a great actor once said, "We will sell no wine before its time." The lazy man's version is, "I will do no work before it's time." Then pray that it’s time never comes.
Some things done immediately only create more work. It is a discerning man (lazy man) who knows what needs to be done and what does not have to be done at all. Those people who are greatly allergic to being called lazy are afraid not to do something, while the lazy man is quite content to let some things go undone.
One more thing about a lazy man. Before he will do anything, he will try to figure out the quickest and easiest way to do it without spending a lot of energy or time. He guards his energy as an old miser guards his coins at night.
The lazy person is not intimidated by activity. However, he has that deep-seated satisfaction of knowing that he may not do everything but what he does do he does as effortlessly as possible.
Peter, the angler turned apostle, understood this idea of leisurely casting your life upon the Lord. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7 KJV).
Even Jesus understood this when he said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV).
The essence of wisdom is this; do not do for yourself what has already been done for you. Very simply put, Jesus has done it all for you.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.