The most recent episodes of Sesame Street feature yet another squeaky monster with a bit of a trendier edge named Murray. This friendly, furry orange guy typically opens the show with a segment called “The Word on the Street”, which just illustrates the theme of the show’s opening skit through a series of interviews with random people on the New York streets. Recently, one theme popped up that caught my attention: lazy.
Historically, I’ve never been a slothful kind of guy, but since being primarily self-employed and attempting to promote my writing, getting started every day has never been more difficult. Fighting through the lack of a need to get up early, then devising a specific list of tasks to conquer along with duping my insecurities for a day can be exhausting alone. I could give myself an A for effort, but really, if I’m not getting anything done, I’m being a lazy bum.
The Americanized (and, in a way, the biblical) standard for laziness is lacking in productivity. Back in the day when most people had to farm for food, if you didn’t put your hand to the plow, you weren’t going to eat. If you don’t clock in, or even look to find a job, say goodbye to your salary and hello to the streets. It’s a simple formula. To avoid homelessness or the perception of being a leech, most people work pretty hard every day.
But there’s a different level of laziness as presented in Matthew 25. Two very succinct parables do the trick: the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and the Parable of the Talents.
The Ten Virgins
They were kinda like bridesmaids, without the inclination to hook up with one of the groomsmen. In the story, they’re supposed to wait for the wedding to start, lamps in hand, and come in when they’re invited. They’re also supposed to have enough oil to refill the lamps in case they burned out.
Five of them, however, ain’t ready. Maybe they were too busy finishing up laundry to head to the supermarket and get an extra propane tank. They start asking the other five to spare some oil, who reply that they only have enough for themselves. The lame five take off for the store and grab some more, only to discover the wedding has already started when they return.
The parable ends with a very simple command: watch. Jesus is specifically referring to His return, but He is also alluding to the temptation to get lazy.
A lot of Christians are getting really lazy. I see it on Facebook all the time. We’re very busy doing our homework on gun control, the homosexual agenda, aborting abortion, appropriate military spending, and anything that has to do with evolution. These might all be noble causes, but when we spend so much time on this, we forget about getting some more oil in the lamps. People are dying, and the gospel is being ignored, all the while wasting endless resources.
This irritatingly misinterpreted parable tells us several truths about investment. By the way, “talents” are a form of currency, not abilities. I suppose you could translate them to abilities as a figure of speech, but I’ve heard one too many pastor blow it on this; if you’ve been taught this, it’s flat out wrong.
A landowner gives three guys some money to make the most of while he’s gone. Two of the guys double their investment; the third guy freaks out and hides the money.
It’s important to realize that the landowner entrusted money to these guys. God has entrusted all of us with something; are we using it, or are we just sitting on it?
Also, we have to realize that God is discriminatory about what He entrusts us with. This might come across as preposterous or limiting, especially if we’ve bought into the promise of success, but it’s true: the landowner gives each of the servants according to their abilities (v. 15). He gives the most able guy the most money, and the least able the lowest amount. The question becomes, can we be eventually be entrusted with more? I have no idea; but we have to invest what we have right now first.
The landowner’s response to the last guy’s inactivity should scare the hell out of you, literally. After the landowner finds out the third servant had simply hid the coin, the landowner does some brief name-calling: “you wicked and lazy servant!” Immediately, the coin is taken from him and the man is banished forever into the darkness, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. It’s clear that that this parable is designed to be expanded: we are the third servant, and the location is hell. In short, if we’ve been given knowledge of the gospel and we just hide it in our back pocket, we’re exactly what this man is called: wicked and lazy.
So ends this somewhat long-winded blog with a simple message: stop being lazy. You can be superbly industrious and productive and still be full of sloth. God loves you; show Him the same in return and do something about it.