There is a difference between rest and laziness. Rest is part of the natural rhythm of life, and rest is actually an expression of faith. When we rest, we can only do so because we believe the words of Jesus, that “it is finished,” and we have nothing left to prove. But laziness? Well, that’s different. Laziness is filled with apathy rather than gratitude, with entitlement rather than stewardship.
So how can we guard our hearts from laziness? I’d suggest we start with reminding ourselves of a few truths:
1. God has planned good works for you to walk in.
The Apostle Paul laid out three components of salvation as outlined by Paul in Ephesians 2:8-10. According to that text, salvation is:
For good works.
This is the means, the avenue, and the result of salvation. These are the pillars upon which life in Christ balances, each of which is necessary for that life to stand. In further reflecting on those pillars, it’s great to see that these good works – the result of what comes by grace through faith – are not random. They are not haphazard. Instead, these are intentionally chosen, fashioned, and set apart good works for us to live inside by God Himself. They are your good works; and they are my good works. And yours are not mine and mine are not yours. Thus is the nature of God setting them out for us as individuals. Sure, they intersect, and sure, they might look similar, in that you might give or serve in a similar way that I would. But yours are still yours. And mine are still mine. If we truly believe that, then we should live in expectation of encountering these opportunities on a daily basis. We should even be seeking them out actively. This truth helps us to combat laziness, for by faith we trust that in our daily lives, we will encounter pre-planned good.
2. Work is part of being made in God’s image.
If you look back to the very beginning of creation, you’ll see that one of the first things God did when he planted Adam in the garden was to give him a job to do:
“The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15).
Work is in our DNA. It’s part of who we are as humans to do work, to contribute, and in so doing, to be an extension of God’s common grace into the world. In a perfect world – in the Eden world – that work would be hard, but joyful and satisfying. But work, like everything else, has been corrupted by the fall. And now we don’t just work – we toil. What was meant to be satisfying and fulfilling is now drudgery. And we feel it, don’t we?
But someday, when we are fully sanctified and glorified and with the Lord, we won’t exist in a state of laziness. We will work. But we will at last experience work the way it was intended to be. If that is our eternal destiny, then far be it from us to be lazy now.
3. Your days are numbered.
The psalmist prayed in Psalm 90:12: Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. If we are interested in combatting laziness, then this is a good prayer for us to take up as well. Learning to number your days isn’t about learning how many days you have; rather, it’s about realizing the finite amount of time you and I have on this earth, and in light of our finitude, to resolve to make the most of what time we have for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Numbering our days isn’t about creating a bucket list; it’s about committing ourselves to what truly matters. Which leads to the final truth that will help us combat laziness…
4. Some work will last.
Oh, yes – some work will last. But the opposite is also true. Some work will not. It is a fearsome thing to consider that what you or I might be giving the majority of our time, energy, and effort to one day will be consumed and burned up:
If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved—but only as through fire (1 Cor. 3:12-16).
A passage like this ought to help drive out lazy tendencies from us. We should want to make sure we are doing work that will last for eternity. And even if the work we are doing is secular in nature, we have opportunities inside that work to build on the foundation of Jesus.