13Don't be so lazy that you say,
“If I go to work,
a lion will eat me!”
13Don't be lazy and keep saying,
“There's a lion outside!”
14A door turns on its hinges,
but a lazy person
just turns over in bed.
15Some of us are so lazy
that we won't lift a hand
to feed ourselves.
16A lazy person says,
“I am smarter
than everyone else.”
None of us likes to be accused of being lazy. We like to assume that we have worked for and deserve everything good we have received! Our reading today reminds me that there are some attitudes and actions that accompany laziness that may be more common in my life than I would like to admit. One is the propensity to make excuses. It seems that I can be really creative in coming up with good reasons (read “excuses”) why I didn’t follow through on a commitment, or failed to complete a task or project. Yes, I am adept at letting myself off the hook. The lazy person’s excuse to not go outside to work because a lion might be on the road sounds pretty feeble to me – my excuses are much more sophisticated, but equally adept at justifying my inaction. I was waiting for someone else, or the time isn’t right or … well excuses are pretty much endless.
Laziness can also manifest itself in my life when I just avoid dealing with hard issues. Instead I stay in bed and just turn over, ignoring the elephants in the rest of the house. How many times has my laziness to address a relational conflict led to a deepening of the problem because I keep turning over and ignoring it? And then there are times when I simply don’t look after myself. The lazy person doesn’t even feed himself – but how often do I ignore the need for spiritual food? Or to do things that feed the joy and sense of meaning in my life? Instead I prefer to sulk and live undernourished spiritually, relationally – emotionally “in the dumps” but not really wanting to do anything to get out.
And then there is the issue of knowing more than everyone else. The Teacher reminds us that the lazy feels that he is smarter than seven wise counselors. Ever meet someone like that? He knows everything about everything, but has not done the hard work to actually learn about any of the issues that he has the definitive word on. In a polarized world of personal opinions that seem to have little basis in deep study and gracious debate (yet are easily broadcast on blogs, Twitter and social media), it is easy to see that laziness in thinking is perhaps more widespread than ever. Opinion, it seems, doesn’t need to be based on the hard work of study; no, it simply needs to be “posted.” So, in the end, while I may work hard at my job, perhaps I am not as immune to laziness as I think!
Oh Lord may you keep me from laziness. May your Spirit move me to stop making excuses for inaction and for commitments that I have failed to fulfill. May I have the courage to face the elephants in the room; to do the hard work of feeding myself spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. And please give me the humility and discipline to do the hard work of researching issues rather than succumbing to a laziness that assumes that my ill-founded opinion is just as true (or better) than that of seven wise counselors. Amen.