The Journal Entries of Jonathan Edwards – Lazy Saturday

The Following entry is from Saturday Feb. 23, 1722

I find myself miserably negligent, and that I might do twice the business that I do, if I were set upon it. See how soon my thoughts of this matter, will be differing from what they are now. I have been indulging a horrid laziness a good while, and did not know it. I can do seven times as much in the same time now, as I can at other times, not because my faculties are in better tune ; but because of the fire of diligence that I feel burning within me. If I could but always continue so, I should not meet with one quarter of the trouble. I should run the Christian race much better, and should go out of the world a much better man.

I Chris Woznicki find myself terribly negligent…I have been indulging a horrid laziness a good while….

Its Saturday morning as I write this blog and I find myself resonating with Edwards’ words. If I really set my mind to it, I could accomplish twice the things I set myself to do. But its Saturday, and its Christmas Vacation. I just finished an intense quarter, what with preaching at Church, giving a couple of lectures at EBC, and taking a PhD seminar. I’m entitled to a lazy Saturday right? Reading Edwards it sure seems like I’m not? There is much to accomplish, and sitting around (blogging?) is a waste of time. Well maybe it isn’t…

I think the appropriate question to ask at this point is WWED? What Would Edwards Do?

He starts out by pointing out the fact that he feels he has been neglecting his business. That he has been lazy for quite a while. He seems to be in a funk. Usually he could accomplish seven times as much as he is doing right now! He says usually because on a good day Edwards was an extremely diligent man, especially with his studies. However Edwards was also prone to getting sick and being out of commission for large chunks of time. Regardless, he doesn’t blame his proneness to getting sick for his laziness. Its not as though he is sick right now and has to lay in bed eating (drinking?) chicken noodle soup. No he blames his laziness on the fact that the “fire of diligence” is not burning within him. If he could keep this “fire of diligence burning”  he would be able to be very productive…. But more than that.  For Edwards his laziness isn’t a problem simply because its bad to be lazy, the problem is that its “unchristian” to be lazy. Now this isn’t some strict form of legalism, where performing a certain act (namely being productive) makes you a Christian. Remember Edwards vehemently fought for justification by faith alone. Edwards’ aversion to laziness is rooted much deeper than that.

 “I should run the christian race much better…and should go out of the world a much better man.”

 Edwards is averse to laziness because he sees it as a form of unfaithfulness. God has called him to run a race, a race which for him involves preaching to the best of his God-given abilities, being faithful to God in studying the word, writing theological/pastoral treatises for publication around the world for the sake of the edification of the Church. God has given Edwards many tasks. To ignore them, by spending a Saturday moping around would be to be unfaithful. It would be like Usain Bolt jogging at the Olympic finals. Bolt’s coach would be like “what the heck are you doing?!?! You have so much talent, you have trained so hard, you could have accomplished so much for Jamaica, yet you wasted it all just because you didn’t feel like running? Just because you felt lazy?” The fact that Edwards aversion to laziness is rooted in the concept of faithfulness is shown in the last clause:

 “(I) should go out of the world a much better man…”

 Obviously Edwards knew that he could not leave the world a more righteous man… there are no “better” men; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Edwards knew this… in fact he wrote about it in Original Sin, so what does he mean “I should go out of the world a much better man?” I believe he means that he will leave the world knowing that he contributed significantly to God’s purposes. That sounds borderline prideful/arrogant… but it really isn’t. Like Paul, Edwards wants to receive the prize that God has for him, he wants to be able to be called “good and faithful servant.” He wants to know that he has been the man that God has called him to be.

So on this lazy December Saturday can I sit at Starbucks and blog about Edwards? If that is what God has called me to do, if that is what it means to be faithful to God’s call in my life? Yes. I can and I must, to do otherwise would be to be lazy and unfaithful. Yet there are other things that I must get done today; to ignore them would be to be unfaithful….

Here are Three Helpful Tips from D.A. Carson  and Andy Naselli on how to stay productive and not be lazy/unfaithful:

Three secrets of productivity, however, are worth mentioning:

  1. Learn to fill in the little empty periods that clutter each day.
  2. Don’t fritter. When you work, work hard; when you are not working, quit entirely.
  3. Discover how different aspects of your work can leverage other aspects of your work. For example, choosing your reading to feed into things that you’ll be preparing over the next six or nine months adds to godly efficiency.”

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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