A few thoughts on labor and laziness

By Shane Legler
Posted 4/22/21

A great truth that everyone needs to be constantly reminded of in our time and place is that Jesus did not come to free us to sin, but to free us from sin.

Sin is anything that falls short of …

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A few thoughts on labor and laziness


A great truth that everyone needs to be constantly reminded of in our time and place is that Jesus did not come to free us to sin, but to free us from sin.

Sin is anything that falls short of God’s glory, and since a good summation of man’s purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, it follows that his image bearers should hate anything that falls short of his glory. However, the culture at large often brings us to the place where we wink at some sins or even fail to recognize them as sin at all. During a recent conversation, it came to my attention that laziness has become such a sin to us.

When “shows up to work daily and on time” is a valid resume bullet, the reasonable among us might agree that our work ethic has slipped a bit. Further, when Americans will cast a vote for president based on the promise of “free” money, is that not cause for concern? What about when people would rather rob their neighbors, either straightforward through looting or roundabout through voting, than work for what they have? Should that not make us wonder whether the nation either can or should continue?

Whether we believe it or not, a nation that shuns honest labor is doomed to failure, ruin and servitude. Therefore, it would be good for us to consider what the Lord has said concerning labor.

First and foremost, labor, in and of itself, was never part of the curse that resulted from mankind’s fall. Genesis 2:15 declares that “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Before Adam ever broke God’s command, he was given a vocation that would bring glory to God. That word vocation means “calling.” We could say that Adam was called to be a gardener to the glory of God.

Further, the purpose or work that God gave Adam to do allowed him to imitate the Lord whose image he bore since all of creation is the result of God’s work (Genesis 2:2-3). My point in this is that work or labor is not bad but good. Work is a blessing, and all the work that we are called to do to the glory of God is good work. Do we think that the work of a pastor is more sacred than the work of a farmer? In so much as the farmer does the work of his calling to the glory of God, his work is just as sacred before God as that of the pastor.

Of course, after the fall, all work became harder. That said, nothing worth having ever comes to us apart from work. This will be the part that some folks scream at the page about salvation being free. Dear reader, nothing is free, and salvation is the costliest thing ever bought for mankind. It comes to us by way of grace, but it was the labor of Christ that provided it for us. When anything comes to us “free” in this life, we need to be looking around for someone to thank for that blessing.

On that note, no one has the right to force another to labor for them. We call that slavery. No one is entitled to the fruit of anyone else’s labor, to include the labor of God himself. When someone shares the fruit of their labor with us, especially when it is God, we ought to be grateful for it because they really didn’t owe it to us. All that being true, what does God plainly expect of us when it comes to work?

It is declared in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” The apostle Paul wrote this instruction for the church. All are expected to labor honorably as the scripture also commands, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). Note that God does want the laborer to be generous as God is generous, but the blessing of participating in giving only comes to the one who is willing to work to have something to give.

God gave labor as a gift to man and those who refuse to put their hand to the plow are going to suffer the consequences of hunger (Proverbs 19:15), poverty (Proverbs 10:4), servitude (Proverbs 12:24), and destitution (Proverbs 20:4). There is always a consequence to refusing the gifts of God. However, the refusal to work won’t just bring about these sad consequences. It will also contribute to the general corruption at work in the world (Proverbs 18:9) because, post fall, all that is built must be maintained.

That being understood, the principles of labor don’t just apply to the physical but to the mental and spiritual as well. In fact, spiritual and mental laziness may very well be the deadliest plague afflicting us today. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, I’m constrained to let you work it out on your own, but for those who are still with me, let us work harder doing whatever we do “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). May God be glorified in the work he has given us.


(Shane Legler is the pastor of the Garland Community Church.)