“A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway” (Proverbs 15:19 nlt).
We don’t often think about habits like laziness and discipline as being spiritual qualities, but according to the Bible, they are. The Proverbs repeatedly caution about the consequences of laziness. In this passage, the author likens the way of the lazy to a path overgrown with thorns. A way that is untended, a difficult passage for those on a journey. This image resonated with the ancient readers who understood the work associated with clearing a path and maintaining it. A path overgrown with thorns provided the image of lazy person.
The way of the upright stands in contrast. This path provides a level highway, a way that people can easily travel from place to place. The author of Proverbs interestingly did not contrast the way of the lazy with the path of the diligent; rather, he contrasted the lazy with the upright. In other words, laziness—lack of discipline and industry—he equated as the opposite of being upright, which we often identify as a spiritual condition.
How often do we see laziness and lack of discipline within our lives as a reflection of our spiritual state? This may not elicit the emotional high of singing worship music, but in truth, the Bible has a lot to say equating discipline with being spiritually upright—or its opposite (being lazy) as contrasted to our uprightness.
Paul articulated the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians. By referring to it as such, we often relegate these behaviors and habits to the spiritual realm, but if we look at them, they are all actions brought about by discipline, spiritual discipline. As humans, we are not naturally prone to exemplify “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 nlt).
The fruits of the Spirit come about and grow in our lives through disciplined action and choice. God doesn’t just make us this way when we come to Him. We must choose to discipline ourselves to be this way and live this way. The opposite of such discipline is laziness. And a “lazy person’s way is blocked with briers.” It is not a path that benefits anyone or can be used.
God is not honored by laziness or lack of discipline. What does our activity say about our relationship with Him?
Father, as we endeavor to honor You in everything we do and say, help us to be more disciplined, so that we may produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Amen.