A person who is lazy lacks understanding. He is ignorant of what is happening. This person is not keeping his property in good condition, and so entropy is pulling it into a state of disorganization. That is the way of all material things. He is not doing enough to overcome inertia.
Proverbs has much to say about laziness. It does not matter whether the laziness is in physical or spiritual endeavors. The point here is that little or nothing will be produced by the slothful person.
Many people conquer laziness concerning physical things, such as business matters. I once heard a radio interview of a millionaire many times over who had become that way through a scheme that he took advantage of. It was perfectly legal; there was nothing wrong with it that way. This man said in response to a question, "You don't become rich being lazy. It takes hard work." That is what this passage in Proverbs 24 is saying.
We want to be spiritually rich. We want our relationships to be rich and to produce the right things, so to achieve this will require a good deal of effort on our parts. Secular people learn these principles and put them to work in business, and they prosper as a result of it. However, they avoid making the same effort in spiritual matters.
In the church, this lack of effort produces Laodiceanism. The Laodicean is rich and increased with goods, which means that he is doing all right in the business world, but he is not paying much attention to the spiritual. He is not using the same principles in regard to spiritual things that he does to physical things. Thus, he becomes reasonably well-off materially, but God says that, spiritually, he is wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).
We need this instruction from Proverbs because what we see in these verses will produce Laodiceanism in us unless we fight against it and overcome it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Greatest Challenges
Many proverbs refer to the deleterious effects of neglect or passivity involving the sluggard as both the perpetrator and recipient of ruin and waste. It is a perennial theme throughout the wisdom literature of the Bible:
» Proverbs 15:19: The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.
» Proverbs 12:27: The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man's precious possession.
» Ecclesiastes 10:18: Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.
In each of these examples, destruction, decay, or corruption are shown to be the cumulative effects of neglect. A modest coat of paint will protect metal and wood surfaces from rust, rot, and the ravages of weather. However, doing nothing will cause structures to decay incrementally, looking as though terrorists had intended to destroy them. Who needs bombs and explosives when the same effect can be accomplished by doing absolutely nothing?
David F. Maas
Could You Be a Spiritual Terrorist?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Proverbs 24:31: