When Proverbs says that “he who is lazy is brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Pr. 18:9), we can mistakenly conclude that the wise man is merely saying that laziness is really bad. Laziness *is* really bad, but that’s not all that’s being said.
Let’s start with the easy part, the great destroyer. We have no problem understanding the damage caused by a great destroyer, say like Attila the Hun. We can imagine the houses burnt to the ground, the priceless works of art destroyed, the fences toppled, the crops damaged, not to mention the families who are devastated. You easily get the picture.
But the wise man says that Joe Slacker is Attila’s brother. How so? The Lord God has given everyone gifts and abilities to use and tasks that He expects us to work at in faith. If we diligently use our gifts and abilities the world becomes a different place than if we are lazy. In the lazy man’s world those improvements never appear. In the lazy man’s city there is no house where there might have been, no books where there might have been, no fence where there might have been, no music where there might have been. In other words, the house and the fence that Attila would tear down and destroy never even appear in Joe Slacker’s world due to his laziness. The destroyer destroyed what was, while the lazy destroyed what ought to have been. The city, you see, looks the same way in the end whether it has been ravaged by the activity of Attila the Hun or by the inactivity of Joe Slacker. The family resemblance is remarkable.