Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Conceit of Idleness

In 2003, I took time off work on health grounds and also to assist my sons adjust to their new environment – we had just relocated to Geneva. Coming away from a full-day loaded agenda to a flexible home management schedule, my friends thought I would not last 3 months. I was too active to be home-bound.  I did survive one year before I got restless. The boys did not need me as much as they used to do. I could not make the house cleaner. The wheels were running smoothly. I was involved in the Parents activities in the school but it was not enough to keep me busy. And I felt a strong urge to be able to contribute to the family income again. There was no where I needed to be or where I would be missed if I did not show up.

I did a stint of marketing food supplements for those watching their weight. I did an even longer stint of marketing beauty and face cleansing products. I even volunteered to work pro bono at the Nutrition Department of an International Organization in my city. While all of these did not generate the kind of income I needed, they kept me gainfully engaged.

Recently, a Sista-friend shared with me her concerns about a mutual friend who has been out of work for a long while, and was unwilling to accept a position offered him. He claimed that the position was beneath him. He had set a standard of the kind of job he was willing to do and it was either that or a “big time” business. He was not willing to settle for anything less. I was aghast, shocked at his adamant position. He has a young family to support, bills to be paid were mounting up plus debt to be settled. The situation was simply beyond my comprehension.

Is this faith, or foolishness or simply being presumptuous?

Or am I the one with the problem here? So I went in search of what the Bible says about being unwilling to work.

The Bible warned us in very strong terms against idleness. “…Work with your hands” (1Thess 4:11).

“…The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2Thess. 3:10).

If anyone is not willing to work then he is not to eat either. Such as could work but would not work should not be maintained in idleness. As children of God we must be creative, productive and action-oriented like our God. The Bible recorded that God worked for 6 days before He rested from His work on the 7th day.

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Eph. 4:28).

The point is that there must be a willingness and eagerness to work, and to take action to accomplish something even if it appears for the moment that nothing is happening or there is no dividend.

If there is a willingness to work and there is yet to be an opportunity, the individual will keep seeking, he will get up every morning and go out in search of something to do. He will not sit back at home idle. He will be willing to exert himself and go the extra mile to make a living.

Paul demonstrated that hard work is essential even though he had the right to depend on the people since he was ministering to them. He said “we were not idle when we were with you. On the contrary, we worked day and night, laboring and toiling, so that we are not a burden to you…” (2Thess. 3:7, 8).

Those who are not busy, who live lazy and idle lives, walk irresponsibly and become busy bodies. With much times on their hands, they meddle in other people’s business and interfere in the lives of others. They go about talking nonsense, saying things they ought not to. Devil will find work for idle hands.

Idle people, because of their laziness and slothfulness, reduce themselves to become a great burden on their families, friends and the church, depending on the bounty of others. They also deprive those who are truly in need access to the limited resources available. Those who are diligent in their business and earn a living, have great pleasure in doing it, and they are also able to contribute to helping those in need.

Idleness is productive of misery. “Keep away from everyone who is idle and disruptive” (2Thess. 3:6).

Busybodies denotes being busy with useless, superfluous and unproductive things, that is, to be occupied with trifles. But man was created by God to be an active, productive and creative creature, made for work and business.

Those who believe that some activities, chores or jobs are beneath them remain rooted at the same spot. They want the big-bang, they are waiting for a windfall or the beyond-imagination, which will propel them straight to the top. They don't want to do the hard work of building. So they wait and wait, and while they are waiting, they complain, grumble and blame everyone but themselves for their situation. They refuse to take responsibility for their inaction.

Inevitably, those waiting for a windfall or open heaven will likely miss it because they are not at the right place at the right time to receive the windfall or open heaven when it comes. They are too lazy to move from the spot where they are rooted.

While we are waiting for ours dream to be fulfilled, we need to keep ourselves gainfully preoccupied, building a strong foundation, improving our skills, acquiring new and relevant knowledge, and preparing for our dream to come to pass.

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). They took action which demonstrated their faith in God. Their works put their faith in God on display. They did not just speak or talk about their faith and trust in God but they took steps/actions which demonstrated that they trusted God to act on their behalf.

I know that God does not despise the days of small beginnings. And I know that he who is faithful in small things, to him more is given. God has promised to enlarge our coast.

As Christians, we should demonstrate a high standard of integrity, excellence and diligence in all we set our hands upon to do. Knowing that we stand as God’s ambassadors in whatever area of influence God has given us. We are the salt of the earth there and the light beacon directing others to Christ. We should be examples of those who demonstrate a high standard of responsible work ethics in our vocation and calling.

If we can work and are unwilling to do so, we miss opportunities to have the glory of God put on display in our lives at the workplace or market place, and we also miss opportunity to attract others to Christ when they see His good works in us.

It is a good thing to leave a godly heritage for our children and not just wealth. The sure way to do so is by teaching them the value of hard work and of working in the consciousness of God.

Gina Rinehart, an Australian mining heiress, will not leave her wealth to her children because she noted that they have not “developed the requisite skills, capacity, experience and responsible work ethics to manage wealth.” Gene Simmons wants his children to “be forced to get out of bed, go out, work and earn a living.” These are two of the wealthiest people in the world who would not leave their fortunes to their children.

Christianity does not take us from the work and duty of our calling or vocation, but it teaches us to be diligent in it. It is a responsible thing to encourage others to work and when positioned to do so, we should create opportunities for others to be gainfully engaged.

There is a difference between those who cannot work and those who would not work. Those who cannot work as a result of weakness, handicap, illness and old age should be provided for by the body of Christ, their families and government.

The Proverbs 31 woman is my standard of a hardworking, industrious, multi-tasking and God-fearing woman. She does not eat the bread of idleness. She taught me that I can be constructively engaged no matter what my circumstances may be. Dreams don’t get fulfilled neither can we walk in the fullness of our calling if we are idle and unwilling to start “small.”

Be encouraged to start something today. Take a step forward, it will take you towards living your dream. 


Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and comments. I appreciate you. God bless you.