Slothfulness: No Effort, No Reward

As I write this post, the United States is 5 months into the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been an extremely long road. People are tired and frustrated. I do not know many people who do not want to get back to the life they once knew.

But here is what I know, there are a lot of hard-working healthcare providers out there on the frontlines, who as exhausted as they are, are not giving up. Their dedication is astounding. And we should be grateful. They have worked under extraordinary conditions to save as many as possible.

What if the entire healthcare force got up one day and just decided they did not want to care for us anymore? Where would that leave us? As a former direct healthcare provider, I can tell you, it would be a very dark place. In healthcare, there really is no room for slackness on any level. Decisions to just not care or an unwillingness to put forth one’s best effort makes the difference between life and death, recovery and stagnation.

But the reward of these faithful warriors is the smile of a patient who comes out of their medication-induced coma to return to their family, the satisfaction of knowing a patient will see another day, and even in the grim case of a patient succumbing to death, knowing they did everything they possibly could to save that person’s life.

There is reward in hard work, but there is only condemnation in laziness.

Probably one of the best Bible stories that highlights the difference between hard work and laziness, and how God views both, is the parable of the ten talents. The parable can be found in Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable, Jesus is relaying how the Kingdom of God functions. Many will look at this parable and think it is regarding money, but it is really about effort.

In the story, a master is going away on a trip and leaves specific amounts of money (i.e., talents) to three different servants to manage. Instead of giving each an equal portion, he gives them a portion equal to their specific ability. Right here in the beginning of the story, there is an indication that the master already knows quite a bit about the efforts of his servants, and he is confident in how much can really be entrusted to each.

After a long while, he returns, and he calls his servants to him so he can collect the money they have managed. To his pleasure, the first two servants (one given 5 talents and one given 2 talents) have both demonstrated their intense efforts to please the master by returning to him double what he has given them. And because of this, their master praises them and invites them to a celebration he has prepared.

But then the master comes to the servant whom only one talent was entrusted. This servant, squandering his opportunity, brought his master back the one talent he was given.

“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’” Matthew 25:24-27 NLT

The master is infuriated. He has given this servant equal opportunity to show a real effort. The servant was not tasked with more than he could handle. And he certainly had plenty of time to do something with the money he had been given. And yet his response was to do nothing.

I wonder how many times we have done the exact same thing – wasted an opportunity God has given us.

At the conclusion of this story, the master takes the talent away from this servant and throws him out of his presence forever. Contained within this story is this warning:

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Matthew 25:29 NLT

In other words, do not even think about mishandling what God has so generously given you.

Our biggest problem is that we really don’t understand the consequences of being slothful. Most of us would think: “I am not hurting anyone.” But the truth of the matter is God is very clear that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). And Ephesians 5:15-17 states:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. NLT

These verses are clear indications of how God feels about sin and slothfulness is sinful. May we start today and take every opportunity to honor God by seizing every moment and turning it into something He can work through.

Father God help us to see our tendencies to be lazy and the areas this behavior creeps into the most. May we realize that a delay in action is a delay in being obedient to Your calling on our lives. Lord, you are the God of both great and small things. May we understand that there is no area of our life that You are not interested in and may we work to live our lives in a way that is productive, efficient, and graceful. You set the example by creating the earth in six days and resting on the seventh. You do not desire that we be work alcoholics but that we learn your way to balance life so that we enjoy both work and rest. Teach us Lord. Amen.




Founder, Transforming Love Ministries

Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference

For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on

Please note all scripture references taken from the NLT.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


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