Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.Proverbs 21:25 NLT
The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.Proverbs 21:25 NIV
Proverbs 21:25 is an example of hyperbole, an extravagant exaggeration. The exaggeration gets our attention, provokes us to think. Lazy people will not die because they have desires. The desires alone do not kill. Oddly, this might be how people approach this verse, whether or not they think of themselves as literal. Humans tend to blame the thing, not ourselves. So, reading this verse could easily result in many sermons about how desires are destructive.
No. Not the point. At all. Not even close.
The point is laziness. Whatever the desire, if one does not apply himself to finish, then the lack of action is what causes ruin or destruction? Why? Because one never becomes what one desires without effort. Laziness is a lack of effort. Thus, laziness can destroy dreams. In the commentary of the New English Translation, a statement struck me: the lazy come to ruin because they desire the easy way out. Yikes!
Laziness is described in the latter half of Proverbs 21:25. Lazy hands refuse to work. The function of choice is screaming here, but let’s consider hands first. Hands in this verse are a symbol to express one’s ability to act. Hands refer to the whole person. (Ability is a powerful word too.)
Now, let’s get to the choice factor in this verse. The hands of the sluggard aka the lazy person refuse to work. Refuse. Unwilling. Utterly refuse. What’s suggested here is that the lazy person 1) sees the work, 2) makes a judgment/decision about the work, and then 3) chooses not to work. This is powerful if we let the Word reach us. Think of how many decisions we make in one day. All of the decisions we have to make require an act of our will, or our participation. Lazy people see that work is necessary, and then makes a decision about the work. What are the decisions lazy people make? I am tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. I don’t have time. The work is too hard. The work is too much. I don’t know where to start. We can go on and on, but lazy people label the work to justify the coming decision to refuse to do anything.
What happens to people who are not willing to put in the work? That’s a simple answer. Their dreams don’t come true. And it’s not because of the work or the dreams and desires. It’s because of laziness. SELAH. The solution? DO. Do something towards the fulfillment of the desire. Work. Cultivate a will to work without motivation or support. Get education and training. Seek out the new network. Be brave, and DO. Do it with nervousness and some fear. Do it without the complete picture. Let’s tell our hands we accept work, effort, and later on, we will accept the reward. SELAH.
Dr. Shaunta Scroggins is the lead contributor to The Bereans’ Commentary.
Studying the Bible for love and with integrity.
Educator - Advocate - Writer
"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."