Prov. 19:24; 22:13; 15:19; 26:16; 10:26; 21:25
Today we’re continuing our brief study of laziness and diligence, and I have a few points to make before we end this tomorrow.
First, I’d like to make a note about humor in Scripture. Despite some peoples’ understanding of the Almighty, the God of the Bible has no problem with laughter in itself. He's made us in his image, after all, and as far as I know we’re the only the creatures which can grasp humor. The problem is that the Bible is meant to be a cross-cultural book and is supposed to be for people from all cultures and societies. Unfortunately, as I’ve discovered multiple times myself, humor rarely—if ever—makes it across a cultural divide. That’s my theory as to why you don’t find a lot of humor in his word.
Having said that, there are some pretty funny images in Scripture if you care to look. The first two verses for today are prime examples. Look at them again and tell me that you don’t see it. But I need to mention that the purpose behind anything humorous here is not so much to entertain but to instruct. The reason why Solomon (and the Spirit behind him) pokes some fun at the sluggard is to get past our natural defenses (as humor tends to do) and make a serious point. You’re supposed to look at those verses and say (with a slight grin) “I certainly don’t want to be like him!”
But now let’s look at some more serious issues:
• Why are people lazy? Well, either consciously or unconsciously they think that it’s easier. They expect to “get by” with just as little work as they can get away with. But the sad irony is that they’ll find their path “blocked by thorns” and end up working harder (with less to show for it) than someone who just decided to take the straight path. On a side note, see how the sluggard is contrasted in the verse with an “upright” man. If you want to be upright in God’s eyes, laziness is not an option.
• He not only thinks he’s going to work less, but he also thinks he’s going to “get one over” on people who earn their pay honestly. He sees himself as much wiser than the “suckers” who actually believe in hard work. But again, God thinks differently. Who do you think is right?
• And how do you think his boss sees him? Mr. Boss sends his employee to go do a job, and then finds out that the job was half-done or not at all. Or how do you think his co-workers see him, the ones who often have to pull his slack? Vinegar on the teeth and smoke in the eyes have something in common: They’re irritating and annoying. They’re not funny, and neither is the sluggard to the people who depend on him.
For everyone with tendencies like mine, are you ready for some "tough love"? Here's William Arnot (in Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth: Illustrations of the Book of Proverbs), commenting on 10:26:
"You would not select activity and punctuality as the cardinal tests of a man’s condition before God: and yet these things are by no means of trifling importance. Indolence is a great blemish in a man’s character. Such a spot may sometimes be on one who is a child of God, but it is not the spot of God’s children. “What thy hand finds to do, do it with thy might.” Sluggishness is a continual injury inflicted on others: it is a cutting, vexing thing. Those who are Christ’s should crucify this self-pleasing affection of the flesh. One of the Christian laws is to look, not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. If we would adorn the doctrine of Christ, we must be active, early, punctual. It is a sin to waste another man’s time, as much as to waste his property. “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” No doubt it is the natural disposition of some people to be slovenly, and unexact; but what is your religion worth if it do not correct such a propensity? A person who is nimbler in body and spirit than you may find it an easier thing to fulfil his appointments; but he has some other weak side which he must watch: “watch and pray,” each at his own weak side, “that ye enter not into temptation.” If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and if the new life is strong in the heart, it will send its warm pulses down to the extremest member."
• I know we had some fun at this guy’s expense before, but here’s where Solomon gets serious. Dead serious. If not dealt with, this will likely end his life prematurely. You can be sure he’s going to be poorer than he should be, which usually leads to a shorter lifespan. Or possibly God will step in and intervene against him. I’m not sure how exactly it works out, and I don’t want to find out.
I want to remind you that I’m preaching against myself as much as against any of you. This is something that I’ve struggled with for some time. But the Good News is that he offers forgiveness and grace. 28:13 is looking mighty good right now.
Father, you are so good to me. I want to be diligent, someone that you find working in your Kingdom when you do your final inspection. Please.
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