My theory is that there is a little bit of sluggardness in all of us. In Seminary I took a class titled, “Evangelizing Nominal Christians.” (Nominal, meaning those who say they are Christians in our culture but their life does not reflect a full commitment to Christ.) The first point posed by professor Eddy Gibbs, was to establish that all of us are nominal to one degree or another, all of us fall down on a full commitment to Christ, so he had us consider our own relationship to Jesus Christ. The same principle applies to sluggardness.
Sluggard is kind of a slippery word. Lynne certainly has some truth. We should all consider our own work ethic, how well we take care of our responsibilities. When Sluggardness becomes a major problem is when it becomes a way of life… I even think, when we in the church desire to help people, we also have to be careful about not enabling others to be sluggards…most people that ask for help are good and genuinely need help, but some need to find discipline. I pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we put out a shingle saying we want to make a difference. I was told a story this week about a woman that called up the Lion’s Den needing clothing for her children. Debbie referred them to the Clothesline. When the woman…
A. What’s it mean to be a sluggard?
Procrastination: The procrastinator’s motto: I’ll figure it out tomorrow. Lauren: I have a natural tendency to want to be lazy - but there is a time for that in your life. It doesn't hit me when work needs to be done - but when work COULD be done - or put off to another day. I don't see anything wrong with that. Now Sluggard seems like someone who can't support their family, shirks responsibility, etc. which is not the same to me as lazy. Lauren has put her finger on the everyday temptation, but how different for it to be a way of life.
Procrastinators put off…, we all procrastinate to a certain extent. I like the story Al Carlson tells of the person he knows that wondered why he wasn’t getting good gas mileage. After two years the man looked in his trunk and discovered he’d been carrying around an outboard moter he forgot about… The joys of procrastination. Unfinished projects. Good intentions but don’t quite get it done. Perhaps we all do it, when it becomes a way of life is when it’s a big problem…Prov. 26:15: The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
Rationalization: always a reason for why projects don’t get done. In Prov. 22:13, the sluggard says he can’t get up and go to work, “There’s a lion in the road.” Excuses. In one survey of 8000 workers, 20% said they were late to work at least once a week: Here are some real reasons people have given for being late to work:
1. My heat was shut off so I had to stay home to keep my snake warm.
2. My husband thinks it's funny to hide my car keys before he goes to work.
3. I walked into a spider web on the way out the door and couldn't find the spider, so I had to go inside and shower again.
4. My left turn signal was out so I had to make all right turns to get to work.
5. A gurney fell out of an ambulance and delayed traffic.
6. I feel like I'm in everyone's way if I show up on time.
Instead of rationalizing, wouldn’t it be easier to say I was wrong, and learn to improve? The problem with rationalization is that we make ourselves out to be the victim, and we never improve. In the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, he says that if you have an appointment, and you time it just right, and the traffic is a little heavy so that you are late, it’s your fault. You should have accounted for that possibility. Clearly there are times we cannot control unforeseen circumstances, but the point is to anticipate. Not push the limits, leave wiggle room. We need to be honest. The sluggard prefers to not make any decisions/take no responsibility.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands (6:10). A little, a little, a little, is the snooze button the best invention ever, or the worst?
Need of constant supervision and prodding: Prov. 12:24 (LB): Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. Contrast the ant, who needs no supervision: I assume I am not the only one that takesmoments to watch ants, one of God’s reminders to carry on the work: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
According to Proverbs, a sluggard’s laziness makes him hungry: (21:25) The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. The idea behind so many of the proverbs is that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. A few weeks ago I talked to one of the very giving people in our church about what he thought about helping in a particular situation. I thought the response was very wise, “Carl, I don’t mind helping people, but when they have the ability to do it themselves, it’s hard for me. I have other things I can find to do.”
Sluggards are self-seeking, only concerned for themselves (13:4) The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Isn’t that a great verse? The most satisfied people I know are those who give….there is a richness to life. When I council with people in the community that are overwhelmed by tragic circumstances, one of the pieces of advise I give them is to find a way to give to somebody else, to volunteer…
Sluggards are short-sighted, thinking only of the present: (10:5 LB) A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace. What’s the modern proverb: Make hay while the sun shines. The sluggard gets caught, not planning for tomorrow.
B. The Solution: A new perspective: I like the way one person said it: “The way to cure a sluggard is to make a saint of him.”
Know yourself: Shelly: I am affected by weather. Sun and heat totally energize me I am more active.on the go.. walking and go go go No pain as my CP/arthritis gets me in the winter. Oh the grey clouds and the wind and the rain. EEW totally sluggggs me down. I have to sit by a light and take extra vitamins during the winter. I procrastinate little things.. not huge things just little.
(23:17) Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.
Know God: (15:19) The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway. Upright, or the righteous person…to know God is to have confidence. A highway…
(2:1-5) My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
Pace yourself… Jessica: I tend to be more affected in the winter when we are cloudy and dark most of the time. Its like it drains my energy and then I become more lazy. Some days I have to push myself to not be lazy especially when I get home from work and there are more things that need to be done but all I want to do is plop on the couch and stay there. I love to put things off, but time seems to go by so fast in today's world that I don't always have that pleasure.
Isaiah passage, similar to the lesson of the ant.
Find balance… Elisa: Do you want suggestions on how best to be a lazy sluggard...or how to go to the other extreme and overdo everything and go through a significant burnout...I know how to do both. Our world is at the point though of overencouraging us to 'multi-task' ...whatever that is...type on the computer, run copies, do laundry, answer the phone, pet the dog, ...all at once.
A new perspective: The Goal of life is not happiness: it’s holiness.
O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. (30:7-9).
The sluggard of proverbs makes me smile, perhaps because he hits too close to home. A little bit of the sluggard seems to be within all of us, yet somewhere there is a line in which there is nothing funny at all. The solution: Know yourself and your natural tendencies, deliberately seek God, to honor him and spend time with him, to be with the Lord. Pace yourself, there is a time for every activity under heaven, and to know when its ok to sleep in till noon and when you need to rise early and work is a gift, and find a balance, the richness of life, no more or no less of what you can handle. May the Lord wake the sluggards among us up from slumber, and restore a life of meaning and purpose as we seek to serve him.