Among the disciples of Hillel, the profound teacher, was a student named Saboth, who was given to idleness. Hillel was grieved, and was determined to cure him of this fault. He took him to the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem, where there was a stagnant pool, full of snakes, rats, flies, etc.
“Here,” said Hillel, “let us rest.” Saboth protested, “Not here, do you not see how wretched this pool is?” “You are correct, my son. This bog is like the soul of a slothful man.” Hillel then took the youth to a waste field of thorns and thistles. “This,” he said, “has good soil to produce all that is good and pleasant, but it is forgotten and neglected. A little while ago, you saw the soul. Now, behold the life of an idle man.”
Amos, the Old Testament prophet, warned, “Woe to those who are at ease…who are careless and feel secure” (Amos 6:1, The Amplifed Bible). Idleness is perilous to the individual. Idleness caused the downfall of Hannibal. The hot suns of Italy, the snows of the Alps, and the military strength of the Romans, could not defeat him. However, one brief winter in selfish idleness in Capua was his undoing.
Proverbs 20:13 instructs, “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty.” “Sleep” means “to be lax, languid,” meaning “without vigor, without interest or spirit, listless, indifferent.” “Poverty” means “to impoverish, to come to ruin.”
George W. Truett preached, “Quaint old Ben Franklin’s word should never be forgotten: ‘Value time, for time is the stuff of which life is made.’ Over the gateway of man, a man who has failed, might be written the secret of his failure in these two words: ‘He dawdled.’”
During the period of the French Revolution, King Louis XVI reigned in France. When he entered the courtyard amidst the blast of trumpets, waving flags, all his subjects and soldiers snapped to attention. Then, in complete silence, the loudspeakers pronounced the king’s schedule for the day: Le roi ne fera rien! “Today the king will do nothing.” Sadly, King Louis XVI is referred to in the histories of the French Revolution as the Roi Faineant, “the magnificent do-nothing king!”
“Idleness is the burial of a living person.”