The Soul of the Spiritual Sluggard

Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 21:25,26

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing…The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): God never sent a man into the world to be idle.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Man is born and designed for labour, and not for sloth and idleness: in his innocent state he was set to dress the garden and keep it; and, after the fall, his doom was to get his bread by the sweat of his brow; and he is to work while the day lasts, till the evening and night come on, when he betakes himself to sleep and rest again. So the believer, though the work of redemption and salvation is wrought for him, and the work of grace is wrought in him, each by another hand; yet he has work enough to do, which he is created for, and under obligation to perform; and in which he is to continue steadfast and immovable, while the day of life lasts, till the night of death comes, and no man can work; and then he rests from his labours, and his works follow him.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): All that have a place in the world should have an employment in it according to their capacity, some occupation or other, mental or manual. Those that need not work for their bread must yet have something to do, to keep them from idleness…See here the evil of slothfulness and the love of ease.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): The sluggard and the prodigal belong to the same family. The man who “hid the Lord’s talent,” was equally unfaithful with him who “wasted his goods,” Matthew 25:25; Luke16:1―Observe God’s estimate of him, marking him as “wicked, because [he is] a slothful servant,” Matthew 25:26.

JOHN GILL: He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster, Proverbs 18:9. The sluggard and the prodigal are brethren in iniquity; for, though they take different courses, they are both sinful.

MATTHEW HENRY: One scatters what he has, the other lets it run through his fingers. The observation is too true in the affairs of religion; he that is trifling and careless in praying and hearing is brother to him that does not pray or hear at all; and omissions of duty and in duty are as fatal to the soul as commissions of sin.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Lazy spirits aspire not to immortality.

JOHN GILL: The sluggard desires heaven and happiness, but does not care to do the duties of religion; he would die the death of the righteous, but is unwilling to live his life; to abstain from sin, and live soberly and righteously.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath nothing.” We often hear many religious people expressing a desire to have more of the Divine life, and yet never get forward in it. How is this? The reason is, they desire, but do not stir themselves up to lay hold upon the Lord.

JOHN TRAPP: Grace grows by exercise, and is impaired by idleness.

CHARLES BRIDGES: All experience and observation attest the fact, that slothful habits destroy mental energy.

JOHN GILL: He desires knowledge, but does not care to be at any pains to get it, and so has it not―Now such is the conceit of an ignorant sluggard, that he thinks himself the wisest man, inasmuch as he enjoys ease and quiet in his stupid sottish way, while [others] are toiling and labouring, and taking a great deal of pains to get knowledge; and that he sleeps in a whole skin, and escapes the censure and reproaches of men, which they endure for being precise in religious duties, and constant in the performance of them; and fancies he can get to heaven in an easier way, without all this care and toil and trouble, only by saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on me,’ at last.

MATTHEW HENRY: Thus “the sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason,” Proverbs 26:16. This servant thought that his account would pass well enough, because he could say, “There thou hast that is thine,” Matthew 25:25. “Lord, I was no spendthrift of my estate, no prodigal of my time, no profaner of my sabbaths, no opposer of good ministers and good preaching; Lord, I never ridiculed my Bible, nor set my wits to work to banter religion, nor abused my power to persecute any good man; I never wasted God’s good creatures in drunkenness and gluttony, nor ever to my knowledge did I injury to any body.” Many that are called Christians, build great hopes for heaven upon their being able to make such an account; yet all this amounts to no more than “there thou hast that is thine;” as if no more were required, or could be expected.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Meanwhile, with all his inactivity, he is a prey “all day long to a greedy covetousness; tantalized with insatiable desires; while the hope of enjoyment, though not out of sight, yet, from want of exertion, is out of reach…Oh! be industrious—if anywhere—in religion. Eternity is at stake. Hours, days are lost. Soon they come to years; and for want of energy, all is lost…a few minutes’ cold prayers will not seize the prize. To expect the blessing without diligence is delusion—Is it a time to stand idle, when we stand at the door of eternity?

JOHN GILL: Some make it an excuse for their laziness, that they have not the opportunities of serving God that others have―and so sit down and do nothing; it is really an aggravation of their sloth, that when they have but one talent to take care about, they neglect that one.

MATTHEW HENRY: Those of eminent gifts, that are capable of directing others, must not think that these will excuse them in idleness. Many are ingenious enough in cutting out work for other people, and can tell what this man and that man should do, but the burdens they lay on others they themselves “will not touch with one of their fingers.” These will fall under the character of slothful servants.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Surely God has no delight in idleness and sloth…Hence it follows, that there is no time for idleness. 

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Of all the diseases a man can die of, to die of fat and laziness is the worst…I would sooner wear out, then rust out.

JOHN TRAPP: This made John Calvin answer his friends with some indignation, when they admonished him, for his health’s sake, to forbear studying so hard, “What! would you that Christ when He cometh should find me idle?”

CHARLES BRIDGES: Child of God! beware of a sluggish spirit…Let thy Master’s life be thy pattern and thy standard. Not a moment with Him was slothfully neglected; not a moment unprofitably wasted. Equally fervent was He in daily work, as in nightly prayer. Follow Him in his work, and thou wilt be honoured with His reward.


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