Christianity 201

March 20, 2018

The Sluggard – Part One

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Today and tomorrow we’re going to look at a total of four devotionals by Charles Price, for many years teaching pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada. Click the individual titles to read at source.

The Squandering Sluggard

“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.”

—Proverbs 6:9-11

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.

Perceptions

“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.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: