March 17 I Saturday
“The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” —Proverbs 15:19
American psychologist Albert Ellis came up with what he called the “ABC’s of our emotions.” His premise is that how we feel is the most important thing about us. He calls “A” the activating event where something happens in our lives. “B” is our beliefs, the filter through which we understand events, which leads to “C,” our consequent emotions. We never go straight from A to C. Events do not cause our emotions because everything we experience is filtered first through our beliefs.
Ellis gives the example of two men caught in a rainstorm. One man is angry while the other is glad, but both blame their emotional state on the rain. The reason is the first man is a golfer, angry his afternoon game has been rained out, while the second is a gardener, glad for the water that will make his plants grow. Ellis’s point was that if we want to adjust our emotions towards something, we need to reconsider our perspective. We cannot change events, but we can adjust our perceptions, which will change how we respond to those events.
The opening verse tells us something similar. Solomon compares how the sluggard and the upright view the same circumstances from difference perspectives. The sluggard focuses on the thorns wherever he goes, the problems or inconveniences that deter him from pursuing anything. For instance, Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (KJV). Because the sluggard is unwilling to face the cold mornings of springtime, his harvest will be poor.
The upright are not ignorant to the thorns, but their focus is on the “highway” and where it leads them. They are willing to put in the work and are prepared to face the difficulties they will encounter along the way because they know their perseverance will pay off. Their optimism keeps them determined, helping them carry on where the sluggard will not even begin.
Better yet is a perspective centred on God. We can easily focus on the thorns when God calls us to join Him in a task. Practical issues like raising funds for missions work can be enough to talk ourselves out of taking a step of faith into what God has called us to. Again, we cannot change our circumstances, only our attitudes towards them. When we take our eyes off the thorns and focus instead on the God who walks with us, we will find ourselves willing and able to walk the highway, however difficult because we are resting in God’s sufficiency.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for when I have let negative attitudes keep me from following through on what You have called me to. Thank You for increasingly aligning my heart and will with Yours. In Your precious name.