Laziness/sloth: This is quite common among men younger than 35 (excessive work is a common sin among men above this age).
1. General: This is easily seen as an insignificant sin (leisure and comfort are great gods in this society). Moreover, it is not susceptible to a bright line determine like sexual immorality, therefore it will have to be determine by a relative scale: How much time is being devoted to which tasks? With the counselee in the room, work through a calendar of a week and determine all activities from rising to sleep for each day. Note unreasonable amounts of sleep (is there is a medical condition?); lack of work; spiritual discipline; proportionate time devoted to service of others as opposed to entertainment and friends.
In addition to the disproportionate time spent on self, the sluggard can be identified in part by the problems in his life (Prov. 24:34). He will personally suffer for in laziness: “A lazy man does not roast his prey” (Prov. 12:27). He is too lazy to even eat! (Prov. 19:24). His whole is characterized by sloth (Prov. 26:15; 10:4-5; 14:4; 20:4; 21:5; 28:19; cuff, 12:14; 13:23; 22:9). It overshadows everything in his life (Prov. 9:15).
The lazy sluggard: (1) he fills his mind with delusions, and thus (2) will not receive counsel. The sluggard’s delusions are of two kinds: (1) excuses, and (2) expectations. In Proverbs 28:19-20, the sluggard is called one “who follows worthless pursuits” to the point of poverty. (ESV). The NIV calls him “one who chases fantasies”. The parallel line in verse 20 tells us that he is “one who makes haste to be rich.” (NASB). Proverbs 13:4 tells us, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing”. Proverbs 21:25 says it plainly, “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hand refuses to work.” Having become full of his own expectations, fantasies, hopes, the sluggard is notoriously difficult to counsel (Prov. 26:16).
2. Instruction: The counselee may either state this is not a sin, or it is a “little sin” (PR, II, device 3). First, it is necessary to demonstrate that laziness is condemned in the Bible: (1) Work was prescribed before the Fall (Gen. 2:15). (2) Laziness is condemned to the point of ridicule (Prov. 26:13-16). (3) Press home the serious nature and the deceitfulness of sin (see sin homework referenced above; Heb. 3:13). (4) Draw a line between sin and Christ’s death. Do not spare sluggard’s feelings. (5) Draw a line in the counselee’s life between his complaints & problems, and his sin of laziness (Prov. 15:19). (6) Be prepared to use repetition and even ridicule if necessary (Proverbs mocks the sluggard repeatedly). (7) Note that the sluggard’s excuses are just that: excuses. Don’t buy into his delusions. (8) Do not limit the results of the sluggard’s folly (2 Thess. 3:10). (9) Since the sluggard’s desires drive his laziness, seek the underlying desires of sluggard – this will uncover the basic sinful heart expressed as laziness. (Three trees may be good here.) (10) Do not protect the sluggard from other’s forcing his conduct (Prov. 12:24). (11) Be prepared to be rejected by the sluggard (Prov. 15:5; 20:3; 29:9). (12) Remember that God is quick to forgive all sin: keep repentance and restoration before the sluggard’s eyes (Rom. 2:4).
3. Homework: Give the sluggard a schedule. Make him keep precise track of how he actually spends his time. Require him to memorize Proverbs 15:19 and meditate on how this is true in his life. Have him list 5 problems in his life related to laziness. Require daily Bible reading of some sort, church attendance at all possible times, and service to some needy persons in the church. Have sluggard find a friend who cares about him who can keep daily track on his schedule. The sluggard’s habits will be deep, so he will need constant reminders to avoid his sin.