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Idle Hands

Bible verses about idle hands

The phrase idle hands are the devil’s workshop is not biblical, but it is indeed true especially in America. Many people are being sloth and doing nothing with their lives when they need to be doing something. They would rather play video games, sleep, and remain lazy then be productive.

God does not use the lazy to carry out His tasks, but Satan sure does. Satan loves the lazy because where there is room for laziness there is room for sin. When people aren’t busy minding their own business living a hard-working life they become nosy worrying about what the next person is doing.

You hear about it in some churches rather than people doing something constructive with their time they gossip and slander. If they were working hard for the Lord this would not have happened.


What does the Bible say?

1. Ecclesiastes 10:15-18 The toil of fools wearies them; they do not know the way to town. Woe to the land whose king was a servant and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time— for strength and not for drunkenness. Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.

2.  Proverbs 12:24-28 The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray. A lazy man doesn’t roast his game, but to a diligent man, his wealth is precious. There is life in the path of righteousness, but another path leads to death.

3. Ecclesiastes 4:2-6 So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun. Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

4. Proverbs 18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. A rich man’s wealth is his fortified city; in his imagination it is like a high wall.

5. Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another–or maybe both.

6. Proverbs 10:2-8 Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone, but righteousness rescues from death. The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry, but He denies the wicked what they crave. Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches. The son who gathers during summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful. Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. A wise heart accepts commands, but foolish lips will be destroyed.

7.  Proverbs 21:24-26 Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance. Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to workSome people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!


Too much sleep is bad.

8. Proverbs 19:15 Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

9. Proverbs 24:32-34 Then I myself saw and my heart considered; I looked, and I took hold of instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands for rest, and your poverty will come running, and your lack like an armed warrior.

10. Proverbs 6:6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes nextJust this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!



11. Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

12. Proverbs 15:21 Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path.


A virtuous woman does not live in idleness.

13.  Proverbs 31:24-30 “She makes linen garments and sells them and delivers belts to the merchantsShe dresses with strength and nobility, and she smiles at the future. “She speaks with wisdom, and on her tongue there is tender instruction. She keeps a close eye on the conduct of her family, and she does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children and her husband stand up and bless her. In addition, he sings her praises, by saying, Many women have done noble work, but you have surpassed them all!’ “Charm is deceptive, and beauty evaporates, but a woman who has the fear of the Lord should be praised.

14. Proverbs 31:14-22 She is like merchant ships. She brings her food from far away. She wakes up while it is still dark and gives food to her family and portions of food to her female slaves. “She picks out a field and buys it. She plants a vineyard from the profits she has earned. She puts on strength like a belt and goes to work with energy. She sees that she is making a good profit. Her lamp burns late at night. “She puts her hands on the distaff, and her fingers hold a spindle. She opens her hands to oppressed people and stretches them out to needy people. She does not fear for her family when it snows because her whole family has a double layer of clothing. She makes quilts for herself. Her clothes are made of linen and purple cloth.



15. 1 Timothy 5:11-13 But do not include younger widows in the list; because when their desires make them want to marry, they turn away from Christ, and so become guilty of breaking their earlier promise to him. They also learn to waste their time in going around from house to house; but even worse, they learn to be gossips and busybodies, talking of things they should not.

16. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 When we were with you, we told you that if a man does not work, he should not eat. We hear that some are not working. But they are spending their time trying to see what others are doing. Our words to such people are that they should be quiet and go to work. They should eat their own food. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we say this.


 We can’t afford to be idle in a dying world.

17. Luke 10:1-4 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

18. Mark 16:14-15 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

19. Matthew 28:19-20 Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do all the things I have told you. And I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

20. Ezekiel 33:7-9 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.



21. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

22. Hebrews 6:11-14 But we want each of you to continue to be diligent to the very end, in order to give full assurance to your hope. Then, instead of being lazy, you will imitate those who are inheriting the promises through faith and patience. For when God made his promise to Abraham, he swore an oath by himself, since he had no one greater to swear by. He said, “I will certainly bless you and give you many descendants.

23. Proverbs 10:25-27 The wicked are destroyed when trouble comes, but good people stand strong forever. Sending a lazy person to do anything is as irritating as vinegar on your teeth or smoke in your eyes. Respect for the Lord will add years to your life, but the wicked will have their lives cut short.



24. 1 Corinthians 4:10-13 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world–right up to this moment.

25. Romans 16:11-14 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.

2 comments… add one
  • Ryan Shaffer Jun 7, 2019, 9:48 pm

    Of course, it should be noted that there is nothing wrong with sleeping and playing video games in and of themselves. It is when we corrupt the good potential for them—in this case, by using them for laziness—that they become sinful. On that note, watching TV and movies; navigating one’s phone/computer/tablet; and even reading books are all similarly susceptible to such corruption.

    I say this to stress the necessity of separating matters of discipline and lack thereof, from cultural differences and human prejudices. (Nonetheless, there is a greater risk of addiction to electronic pastimes that is good to keep in check.) I also say this as a disciple with chronic illnesses that exhaust me to the point of my needing rest throughout the day, hoping that awareness of this kind of circumstance will help the body disciple other chronically ill people trying to find or walk with Christ.

  • Michael Williams Jul 18, 2019, 12:58 pm

    Thank you for helping me to understand this a little better. I have suffered injuries that make it tough for me to work a full day. I gave my heart to the Lord recently and have been in the word or praying consistently. I enjoy playing a basketball game an hour or maybe 2 tops in a day. I have been scared to play it because I do not want God to see it as lack of caring about him, so I have played it once or maybe 2 times since. I am either praying or learning a great deal of the day. I have been speaking to my family to spark their hearts to do as they use to and hopefully even better. I was always the one as I grew up in my 20’s and 30’s that drank and chased women and other bad things. My family thought they would not see the day that I would trust in God. I use to get angry when people told me about the Lord. Two failed marriages later and nothing but constant strife I got tired of it and humbled myself before God! I have found that I am happy now and don’t fret about all that is going on in the world. I despise television for the most part. I may could glance at a sporting event briefly. I have found that my heart hurts now more than it has ever and that is due to worrying for my family and basically for anyone I run into that has their mind on worldly things. I am still far from perfect so I don’t look down on others. Anyway, I have had several surgeries and a couple were fairly serious. I have had one back surgery and need a second but I don’t want to go through with that again. I have had both knees repaired and now have some form of arthritis that causes pain in many joints. I do what I can to stay busy when I am not learning but I do have time I cannot be busy because of debilitating pain so I like the video games. Thanks for the help and I will put it in the forefront of my mind to be careful with how much time I spend doing that.

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