Idle Hands…


“Several years ago, Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man, became bored. So, he went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along with him a few items, including a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.

Walters assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air. So he was quite caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky, smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at the Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from across the country. Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three questions: ‘Where you scared?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Would you do it again?’ ‘No.’ ‘Why did you do it?’ ‘Because,’ he said, ‘you can’t just sit there’” (Leadership, Summer 1993, p. 35).

People do some of the most idiotic, outrageous, and worthless things when they are bored. Even though it doesn’t usually result in becoming a lawn chair pilot, Walters is right, we can’t just sit around and do nothing. Our hands usually find something to do. It may not be what needs to be done. It may not accomplish the responsibilities we have. What it may do, however, is become a stumbling block.

There is a well-known saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” While this is not a Scriptural quote, there are many verses that carry a similar idea. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 sheds a negative light on people who lead an undisciplined life and yet “act like busybodies.” Though talking specifically to widows, 1 Timothy 5:13 characterizes some of the actions of busybodies as follows, “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.” Proverbs 18:9 even goes so far as to describe slackness and destruction as a family relationship. Or in other words, idle hands most definitely will cause problems. And again in Proverbs 16:17 it says, “A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.”

Idle hands may not literally be “the devil’s workshop,” they can very well “give the devil and opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27). Let’s keep ourselves focused, disciplined, and busy, not just with trivial busy work, but with clearly beneficial actions for the Lord’s kingdom (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22).

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