The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
Work is the grand, all-pervading feature in the government of the world. God works. The universe, considered as an inert mass, moves. Stagnation is the sign of death. How early in life the human being should begin regular employment is a question in which both the moralist and the political economist are interested. The burden, the obligation, the duty of one man differs from that of another. In one sense, the duty of labour is laid upon all. Idleness is to be avoided by all, irrespective of the pressure, or the absence of the pressure, of poverty or any personal needs. It is curious to notice that, in the estimation of many, no persons are thought to be engaged in labour save those who are engaged in some handicraft for their livelihood. But idleness, like labour, is a relative term. Idleness is a sin against the ordinance of God. Man has manifold needs, desires, possibilities. Were there no hunger, there would be no crops, no bread. Were there no need of shelter, there would be no huts, houses, palaces. Were there no sense of ignorance, there would be no desire to learn anything. Were there no religious feeling, there would be no temples, nor desire to know anything of what the apostle calls "the invisible things of God." The refusal of work, whether demanded of us, or opened to us in the way of providential opportunity, this is idleness. By this refusal one places one's self outside the life of the community. It is a sin — a sin of omission; the sin of neglect, and of lost opportunity. The life is barren, sterile, nothing. "Only an idler," it may be said; "not as bad as if he gave way to stormy, passionate excesses." And yet there will be in the brain of that idler an indistinguishable brood of vipers, all possible evil and corruption. God requires the use of our gifts and faculties for our development, and that we may do our share in the State, fill the position and, in a word, accomplish the purposes of our existence. The proofs of the sinfulness of idleness are to be found in its effects. It destroys our power of usefulness in the world. All real devotion to a cause implies work. We cannot set ourselves in opposition to God's ordinances, and at the same time entertain any belief seriously that we shall succeed by circumventing Him. If any of you, who are in your years of work, when the duty of work is specially your duty, are refusing everything of the kind, and are bent upon trifles or mere amusement, it requires no large insight to perceive that your minds and characters are becoming weakened; the thews and sinews are soft; the gristle does not harden into bone. Let this state of things last, and it is certain that you will be left behind in the rear. Wholesome, not morbid, activity is what is needed for many whose hands hang idly, not through the fault of an idle disposition. Work will heal many a human woe when all else will seem to fail.
(Edwin Harwood, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.