POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

On Idleness and Sin

I read a perculiar sentence a couple of days ago over at the Together for the Gospel Site.  It recounts a conversation involving John Piper and some others around a dinner table.  It read as follows:

CJ, Lig and I had the honor to have dinner with RC & Vesta Sproul and John Piper.  It was the first night of the Together for the Gospel conference.  And we were being hosted very graciously by Al & Mary Mohler. 

At one point the conversation turned to our busy schedules.  One person exhorted another about the importance of rest.  It was then that John Piper quietly commented "I find productivity restful for my soul." 

"Restful for my soul." 


Bodily rest is important.  Rest for the soul is even more important. 

Rest for the soul...many would assume that this would mean to be inactive, that one must be participating in modern activities that fit in a category known as leisure in order to find rest for your souls.  But here is a statement that "productivity" brings soul rest.  Now, the statement must be interpretted as from a certain person...one who is an author and scholar/pastor.  One counting beans as fast as one can perhaps would not find rest for the soul; but Piper is studying, preaching, praying, writing...is there rest in life by having more of these in our leisure time?

At times today we can forget one of the crucial exhortations in the New Testament regards idleness.  The early church leader, Paul, wrote to the Christians in the city of Thessolonica

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 Thess 5:12-14

Doing nothing, being idle is not a virtue in the Scriptures...in fact it is a pretty major problem. 

A few other biblical warnings about idleness:

  • Ecclesiastes 10:18 - Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
  • Of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 it is said: She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

What happens when we are idle.  Quite evidently, important work does not get done.  People don't eat, stuff falls apart.  Additionally, if the soul is idle in its hunger and pursuit of God, the soul does not eat, and life falls apart.

Productivity - doing stuff to try to make your self seem worthy is an American invention.  Productivity - giving yourself fully to godly labors, study, and prayer - is a way of rest and life to the soul.

As we shall soon see, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything have a major problem - they are lazy, full of sloth, idle - when we land here spiritually, our souls find neither rest or contentment.  Only in the discipline of the faith do we find rest and joy.  To that end - we ought give ourselves fully to the things of God. 

And when we are idle - repent and receive his grace...and don't become a legalist...then get to work.