What Does The Bible Say About Idleness?

Have you ever heard the phrase idle hands are the devil’s workshop?

Are you familiar with the English quote, “Idle hands are the workshop of the devil?”

This actually originated from the . This popular proverb was in fact taken from Proverbs 16:27. In The Living Bible, it says, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.”

From Scriptures, we discover that disapproves of and His ministers share the same sentiment. In Ephesians 5:15 the Bible exhorts us to make the most of every opportunity. The author of 1Thessalonians (possibly, the apostle Paul) pens helpful advice:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12).

1. Idleness results in an unmanaged home.

Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.”

Experience does show that when people neglect to promptly deal with what needs fixing, problems complicate and go from worse to worst.

2. Idle people never amount to anything.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

It’s in trying that we discover what we can and can’t achieve. It’s in venturing that we discover what will work and what won’t. Who and what we become tomorrow starts today.

3. Idleness leads to disruptive behaviour.

Scriptures connect the idle to the disruptive:

  1. 1Thessalonians 5:14 says, “Warn those who are idle and disruptive.”
  2. 2Thessalonians 3:11,12 says, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people, we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”
  3. 2Thessalonians 3:6 warns us to “keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive.”
  4. With regards to idle people, the apostle Paul said, “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.” (1Timothy 5:13 ).

These passages speak the truth for the idle avoids work; he is lazy. He consumes his time on pointless things. His mind wanders with no purpose. Idleness can and will cause people to become disruptive or to become busybodies. They will start meddling with things that do not concern them.

Idleness is indeed the workshop of the devil. Evil thoughts creep in and evil desires are birthed when one is not busy doing what is needed and constructive. Forbes rightly puts it this way, “Indolence is the dry rot of a good mind and a good character; the practical uselessness of both. It is the waste of what might be a happy and useful life.”

Sad yet true, idle living is not living. It is a waste of one’s life. It is stewardship of all that is entrusted to us. That’s why no child of God should be idle. May no one call us idle today.

“The art of living is the art of bringing dreams and reality together.”  – Tom Hodgkinson


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By Ana Menez

I serve with a training & equipping organization. I am also a freelance writer and I take great interest in writing and sharing growth resources. Reading is one of my great loves. I love it for all its fresh insights and points of view that help as I consider issues relevant to my faith life.

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