How to Overcome Laziness
Many people struggle to overcome laziness. Is there any biblical method for winning the battle against laziness? How can you stop being lazy?
“Determine never to be idle,” Thomas Jefferson once said. “It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”
There’s no doubt that millions of people on earth today could benefit from those words.
According to one statistic, 89 percent of workers today admit to wasting time during their workday, and 4 percent go so far as to say they regularly slack off four or more hours—indulging in things like texting, social media scrolling, web surfing and so on.
Can a worker—especially a Christian—afford to have a reputation of being lazy?
The answer is an emphatic no.
Is laziness a sin?
While it’s not a sin to retire, take a vacation or be physically unable to work, the need to be active and productive is a general principle that applies to most people who are of working age. It is a sin to live a lifestyle of laziness by refusing to work and be productive.
The Bible records that Jesus of Nazareth—the Teacher, Master, perfect model and Savior—was a worker (John 5:17). He was definitely not lazy.
And John, the apostle Jesus loved, wrote that if a person claims to believe in Him, he or she is obligated to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
The Bible is clear that being lazy and refusing to work is a deep spiritual problem.In the early Church, some members in the Thessalonica congregation had stopped working, perhaps because they thought Christ’s return was imminent. Apparently, they thought other brethren had plenty of money to supply their needs. Paul reminded these people that he had “commanded” them to work with their own hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
In his second letter to this congregation, Paul explained that he had worked to supply his own needs even though, as a minister, he had the right to receive funding for his ministerial labor. He said he did this to be an example to the brethren and again admonished them to work and “eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12).
In another letter to his protégé Timothy, Paul wrote that those who don’t physically provide for themselves and their family (in other words, those who are lazy) have denied the faith and are worse than unbelievers (1 Timothy 5:8).
The Bible is clear that being lazy and refusing to work is a deep spiritual problem. Laziness is a sin that must be overcome.
But laziness can be a difficult battle to fight, so how can we overcome laziness?
This blog post will give four steps to overcome laziness.
Four steps to overcoming laziness
1. Overcome laziness by realizing that God created us to work
A few thousand years ago, a young man named David glanced up at the gloriously illuminated sky and pondered his existence.
Wanting to know the purpose of life, he curiously asked God, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:4).
In other words, What am I doing here? What should I be doing? What is significant about us puny humans down here?
(If you want to learn more about the meaning of life, see our article “Why Were You Born?”)
To get an idea of what God intends for us to do with our lives, we can look at the creation of man in the book of Genesis. There we discover that the ability to work was embedded into the original human blueprint.
Notice God’s first order of business after forming Adam from the dust of the ground: “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15, emphasis added throughout).
So, God charged Adam with maintaining and preserving the garden—which demanded physical effort and work.
Adam’s responsibility to tend and keep the garden can be likened to the responsibility each human has to tend and keep his or her individual life.
The larger takeaway from this account is that, like Adam in the garden, human beings have responsibilities, and God wants us to diligently fulfill those responsibilities.
Personal health, finances, relationships, households and employment are just some of the items God expects men and women to manage and look after—all of which require some sort of physical effort or labor.
We also know that God allotted specific time during the week for us to accomplish these things. Notice the words He thundered from Mount Sinai: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9).
The Creator God said, “You shall labor.”
Therefore, the week should generally be spent carrying out this directive to be active and productive, with the exception of the Sabbath, when we put an end to physical labor and concentrate on the work that God is doing in each of us.
To learn more about the Sabbath and why we are commanded to observe it today, read our article “Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day.”
2. Overcome laziness by repenting and changing your thinking
The Bible is not at all silent about how God views laziness.
He inspired this topic to be included in several scriptures, some of which were strongly worded, so that readers would get the picture and learn to avoid laziness (Proverbs 10:4; 13:4).
One such passage is found in Matthew 25:14-28.
Here, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the talents, in which a master gave three servants a sum of talents with the expectation that they would do business and increase what was given to them. This absolutely required effort. (To learn more about the message of this parable, read “The Meaning and Lessons of the Parable of the Talents.”)
What we learn by the end of the parable is that two of the servants worked diligently to do what they were supposed to do, while the third one slacked off and “went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money” (verse 18).
Notice that when the master heard that the third servant had done nothing, he was furious.
“You wicked and lazy servant,” the master told him. “You ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest” (verses 26-27).
In other words, he should have at least done the bare minimum!
Likewise, Jesus—the real Master of our lives—desires that we be productive in our daily responsibilities and that we strive to be active workers.
That is His expectation for all Christians.
If we fall short due to laziness, we should get on our knees and ask for forgiveness.
Scripture after scripture indicates that God hears those heartfelt prayers and is more than willing to help us get back on our feet and move forward.
Notice the promise in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins”—not if we make excuses and pretend we don’t have a problem—“He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
3. Overcome laziness by praying for help and being persistent
Newton’s first law of motion (the law of inertia) states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by a force.
God knows this law because He created it. He understands that when people are in a state of rest—that is, when they are lazy and not doing anything—they often need a push, a force, to start moving.
When people are in a state of rest—that is, when they are lazy and not doing anything—they often need a push, a force, to start moving.We may ask these questions: Is it within God’s power to help us get motivated? Can God inspire us to get up and get going?
Would God hear a prayer asking for that kind of help?
The apostle John confidently wrote, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). That is a promise!
James expressed the same thing in his epistle, saying that God “gives to all liberally and without reproach,” if we ask (James 1:5).
Neither of these verses suggest that boundless energy will come pouring into a person the moment he or she finishes praying, because other verses indicate that God doesn’t always answer immediately but sometimes waits for our repeated, heartfelt prayers.
Luke 18:1-7 is a parable that teaches exactly this lesson, that people should always pray and never give up (verse 1).
To learn more about the importance of regular and persistent prayer, read “Pray Without Ceasing.”
4. Overcome laziness by having faith and acting
The final step in overcoming laziness is to put our faith in God’s written promises—inspired by the One who cannot lie—and act on them.
Philippians 2:13 tells us, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The International Standard Version translates the verse this way: “For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.”
We can be sure that God will not perform any actions on our behalf, nor will He force us to act in a particular way.
What God does is provide us with the desire and physical ability to work. We then must do our part to carry out His expectation that we be productive.
Everyone who wants to overcome laziness bears the responsibility to not just believe in God, but to believe God—to trust that He will be faithful to His promises if we do our part and act on what He has said.
If we ask God to help us overcome laziness, we must strive to do our part by actively being motivated, while also trusting in God to provide extra help when we need it.
Remember whom you serve
Notice these important words Paul wrote: “And whatever you do, do it heartily”—not halfheartedly—“as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).
It is human nature to cut corners, make excuses, steal time on the job here and there, and to indulge in laziness.
But Paul’s instruction is that we see beyond our human employer and know definitively that we are ultimately responsible “to the Lord and not to men.”
We can be more easily energized to overcome laziness if we see Jesus Christ as the primary One we serve.
By taking these four steps, you can win the battle against the urge to slack off and be unproductive.
You can overcome laziness.