The Sluggardly Conceit

“The lazy one [is] wiser in his own eyes than seven that return a wise answer” (Proverbs 26:16; LITV).

“The sluggard [is] wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason” (Proverbs 26:16; KJV).

“Wiser [is] the slothful in his own eyes, Than seven [men] returning a reason” (Proverbs 26:16; YLT).

Though an unbeliever, the fellow wittily remarks:

“Consider: ‘The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly’ (Prov. 26:16). Even though his lifestyle is ludicrous and the folly is apparent to everyone but the social worker, the lazy man has it all figured out. He has more wisdom (in his own eyes) than seven wise men” (Douglas Wilson, Federal Husband).

Here is an instance where “a lack of empathy” is a right and judicious thing. Empathizing with the ludicrous panders to the sluggardly conceit.

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; underlining mine).

If he will not work, then he ought to starve. John Calvin (not an endorsement as a true Christian, but quite helpful when he accurately expounds Scripture):

“Not only does Scripture testify this to us, but nature itself taught it to the heathen. Hence it is reasonable, that those, who wish to exempt themselves from the common law…should also be deprived of food, the reward of labor. When, however, the Apostle commanded that such persons should not eat, he does not mean that he gave commandment to those persons, but forbade that the Thessalonians should encourage their indolence by supplying them with food.

It is also to be observed, that there are different ways of laboring. For whoever aids…the society of men by his industry, either by ruling his family, or by administering public or private affairs, or by counseling, or by teaching…or in any other way, is not to be reckoned among the idle. For Paul censures those lazy drones who lived by the sweat of others, while they contribute no service in common for aiding the human race. Of this sort are our monks and priests who are largely pampered by doing nothing, excepting that they chant in the temples, for the sake of preventing weariness. This truly is, (as Plautus speaks,)…to ‘live musically’” (John Calvin).