I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
As I read these verses, I am reminded of all the times I am tempted to just sit down and rest. The chores will get done another time. That fence in the north field doesn’t really need to be fixed. The cows don’t really need to be moved today. The pigs are fine where they are, and the list goes on. The temptation is always before me to fold my hands and rest. Now rest is important. We can’t go, go, go all the time and expect to live healthy lives. That lifestyle will catch up with us, just like the lifestyle of a sluggard will catch up with us as these verses warn.
The context used in the these verses is that of a vineyard; a vineyard of a sluggard or lazy man who lacks sense. His vineyard is falling apart. It is covered with nettles and thorns, and the fences are falling down. The point is clear: practice laziness and poverty will “come upon you like a robber.” One day you will look up, and you will be broke, and you never saw it coming. Laziness makes us blind to the consequences of a poor work ethic.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.
(Proverbs 26:13-14, 16)
The sluggard is an expert at making excuses. He is a master of fabricating reason after reason why he does not work. As a result, he lies in bed and turns like a door on its hinges. He may be moving, but he’s not getting anything done. In his laziness, he is wise in his own eyes. It seems that most of us are always seeking new ways to get out of work. Look at all the get-rich-quick schemes. They are selling the idea that you can make tons of money with little or no real work. They are selling a fantasy. The only people getting rich are the ones selling the scheme. Look at all the fade diets that, if they work at all, only work while you are on the diet. Those diets don’t work, not in the long-run anyway, just like the get-rich-quick schemes don’t work. “Work smarter, not harder.” I have said that so many times, and there is truth in it, but even that simple statement, if taken to the extreme, can lead to laziness. The current entertainment culture is not helping our laziness; it is only making it worse. Folks ask me frequently, “How do you have time to keep up with this farm and work a full-time job off the farm?” Simple answer: I don’t watch TV.
The first man, Adam, was called to work and tend the Garden of Eden. He was given that vocation before the Fall, so we know that work is not a part of the curse. Most certainly our work got harder after the Fall, but that is our own fault. Work can be valuable and honorable. It gives the person working a sense of value and worth and fulfillment and purpose. Work should not be avoided, but embraced and enjoyed. Alistair Begg said “Laziness is not an infirmity, it is a sin.” Let us repent of our laziness and seek to honor the Lord in the work He has given us.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?