Disinclination or aversion to effort or work; idleness; indolence; slothfulness; sluggishness. The Hebrew root word ʽa·tsalʹ may mean “to lean, recline or repose.” The primary idea seems to be that of laxness, languor. Forms of this word are translated “lazy,” “laziness,” “sluggish.” The Greek word o·kne·rosʹ means “slow, tardy, hesitant, slothful or sluggish,” when referring to persons. Another term, no·throsʹ, means “slow, sluggish, dull.”
Jehovah and his Son, as the two greatest Workers, hate laziness. Jesus said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) Throughout God’s Word the lazy person is warned and laziness is condemned. The lazy person is not one such as the apostle Paul speaks of as having “self-sufficiency” or contentment with “sustenance and covering.” (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Rather, he has desires for things, usually for much more than food or clothing. “The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul has nothing.” (Prov. 13:4) Also, he has no consideration or respect for his fellowman, but is willing to let someone else do his work, even to let another person provide him with the things he desires.—Prov. 20:4.
THE LAZY MAN’S THINKING
A description of the lazy man is given in the book of Proverbs. First of all, he throws up barriers in his own mind to justify himself in not starting on a project. “The way of the lazy one is like a brier hedge.” (Prov. 15:19) He views his task as a road ahead filled with briers, very difficult to traverse. Then he makes ridiculous excuses for his slothfulness, saying: “There is a lion outside! In the midst of the public squares I shall be murdered!” as if a danger that actually does not exist attended the job. (Prov. 22:13) Frequently laziness is accompanied by cowardice, a fearful holding back. (Matt. 25:26, NW, 1950 ed., ftn.; 2 Tim. 1:7) Even though counseled and prompted by others, he turns over on his bed ‘like a door on its pivot,’ as one who cannot get up. He is too lazy even to feed himself. He “has hidden his hand in the banquet bowl; he has become too weary to bring it back to his mouth.” (Prov. 26:14, 15; 19:24) But he has deceived himself so that he thinks in his own heart that he is right.
Such an individual indulges in specious and imaginary reasoning. He may think that work will injure his health, or that he is too tired. He may feel that ‘the world owes him a living.’ Or, he puts off a job until “tomorrow.” (Prov. 20:4) Any little thing he has done may make him feel he has done his part, as much as anyone else. Whereas all diligent men could give a sensible reply to any of such arguments, he is “wiser in his own eyes,” feeling that they are the foolish ones for exerting themselves and trying to encourage him to do the same.—Prov. 26:13-16.
THE REWARD OF LAZINESS
While the lazy individual may think he will get busy later, the reward of his laziness suddenly catches up with him and it is too late, for, he is told: “A little more sleep, a little more slumbering, a little more folding of the hands in lying down, and your poverty will certainly come just like some rover, and your want like an armed man.”—Prov. 6:9-11.
Whether taken literally or figuratively, the description of the lazy man’s situation is true: “I passed along by the field of the lazy individual and by the vineyard of the man in need of heart. And, look! all of it produced weeds. Nettles covered its very surface, and its stone wall itself had been torn down.” “Through great laziness the beamwork sinks in, and through the letting down of the hands the house leaks.”—Prov. 24:30, 31; Eccl. 10:18.
Whoever hires the lazy person, or whomever he represents, is bound to be disappointed and vexed and will suffer loss, for, “as vinegar to the teeth and as smoke to the eyes, so the lazy man is to those sending him forth.”—Prov. 10:26.
Lack of heart
The foolish reasoning of a lazy individual shows him to be “in want of heart.” (Prov. 15:21) No matter what he may think, his motive is not good. He does not have love. And the servant of God who is lazy is also weak in faith. (Heb. 6:12) The slothful one’s laziness will eventually bring dire results to him, for “the very craving of the lazy will put him to death.” His craving is for things he does not deserve, or that are wrong. He may come to ruin in trying to get them. At any rate, his craving with laziness turns him away from God the Source of life.—Prov. 21:25.
The Christian who is lazy is not cultivating the fruitage of the spirit, which will enliven and activate (Acts 18:25), but is actually bringing himself into trouble. He is catering to the desires of the flesh. He may soon be “walking disorderly,” “not working at all but meddling with what does not concern” him.—2 Thess. 3:11.
HOW VIEWED IN THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
In the early Christian congregation an arrangement was established to give material help to needy ones, especially to widows. It seems that some of the younger widows expressed themselves as desirous of using their freedom as widows to engage zealously in the Christian ministry. (Compare 1 Corinthians 7:34.) Evidently some of such were given material assistance. But instead of using in a proper manner the greater freedom and additional time thus afforded them, they became idle, unoccupied, beginning to gad about. They became gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs, talking of things they ought not. For this reason, the apostle Paul instructed the overseer Timothy not to put such persons on the list for aid, but to let them marry and use their energies and directive tendencies in having children and a household to manage.—1 Tim. 5:9-16.
In the matter of material assistance in the Christian congregation, the Bible rule is: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10) The family head must provide for his household, and the wife must not eat “the bread of laziness.”—Prov. 31:27; 1 Tim. 5:8.
AVOID SLUGGISHNESS IN STUDY AND IN THE MINISTRY
Counsel is given against laziness as to studying and getting a deeper understanding of God’s purposes and as to engaging in the Christian ministry. The apostle Paul reproved some unprogressive Hebrew Christians, pointing out: “You have become dull [sluggish] in your hearing. For, indeed, although you ought to be teachers in view of the time, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and you have become such as need milk, not solid food.” (Heb. 5:11, 12) He also admonishes: “Do not loiter [be slothful] at your business. Be aglow with the spirit.”—Rom. 12:11.
Jesus foretold that there would be a class of persons claiming to be his servants who would become sluggish and wicked, not working to increase the Master’s interests in the earth. The Master, on his return, would take away from them the interests committed to their care and would have them thrown as a “good-for-nothing slave” “into the darkness outside.”—Matt. 25:18, 24-30.