The Deception of Laziness

The deception of laziness is that it promises more pleasure than hard work. It will be quicker to simply memorize facts than understand the larger concepts behind those facts; it will feel better to watch the football game than it would to spend adequate time on my homework; it will be easier to only spend 30 minutes cleaning out the garage than two hours.

But after the fact, we learn that the promise that laziness offers us is void of any real payoff. It may be, at that moment, quicker to simply stuff facts into our head by rote, but after a day or a few weeks, when we have lost all that information and find ourselves having made little progress in understanding the material, the time we saved will mean nothing. It may bring some pleasure to ignore priorities for the sake of entertainment, but the anxiety and panic that attends our work when we finally get around to doing it, makes our procrastination appear as folly. It may seem expedient to only perform a duty half-heartedly, but having to later spend extra time on that responsibility is bondage, not freedom.

In his classic book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes concerning the deception of laziness,

Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. They lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run. Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you [ignore] it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing (197)

But C.S. Lewis is not the first to make this observation. Many years ago, Solomon recognized that laziness simply does not deliver what it promises. Many Proverbs speak to the sluggard and the one tempted to laziness. Proverbs 12:11, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 19:15, “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 20:4, “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” (See also Proverbs 21:17, 21:25-26, 24:30-34; 28:19).

Laziness, like any sin, despite its glittering appearance, is an empty pit. It is never worth it. May God give us the spiritual wisdom to see past the deceptive promise of laziness to the better pleasure of hard work and a job well done.

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