March 16 I Friday
“How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”
The early church fathers concluded that most sins derive from seven attitudes, which they called “the Seven Deadly Sins.” The last of these is sloth, though Proverbs refers to this as being a sluggard. The word sounds exactly like what it means: a person who is “inert, inactive, slow moving, sluggish.”
The opening verses describe a sluggard as someone who does not commence things. He knows there are things that need doing, but he consistently postpones doing them. He would rather rest and take it easy, forgetting that rest comes from a background of labour. Just as God rested after His work of creating, the fourth commandment states, “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath day to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:9-10). The Sabbath is a day of rest to be enjoyed because we have worked, but the sluggard would like the commandment to be, “Rest now, and when you are really hungry, then do something to get some food.”
The sluggard is more concerned with present comfort than future responsibility. He knows there are expectations and requirements he should be fulfilling for his future, but he is always procrastinating so he can have a good time now. Solomon writes, “Sluggards do not plough in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). Tomorrow never comes for the sluggard. His future is empty and fruitless because, like a lazy farmer with a barren harvest, he spends no time preparing for it.
Even when the sluggard can be motivated to commence something, he finds it hard to finish. He may be a dreamer with incredible plans and the best of intentions, but he never follows through. The sluggard quickly loses momentum and then drifts away, like someone who reads the first chapter or two of books but never finishes them. Solomon is even harsher, saying, “The lazy person buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!” (Proverbs 19:24).
Without immediate motivation, some of us find it difficult to begin a project or to follow through to completion once we have started. It is certainly simpler to live in the here and now concerned only with our present need, but this is a foolish way to live. God promises to provide for our needs, but part of that includes not slothfully squandering the work opportunities He gives us. Compensation for our work is often God’s primary means of provision, which only emphasizes how wise it is to develop the self-discipline to commence and complete the work God has for us.
Prayer: Gracious God, root out the attitude within me that focuses solely on myself in the here and now. Help me follow through on the work opportunities You place before me. Thank You, Lord.