4 ¶ The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
There is an obvious literal meaning to this Proverb that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. It’s a warning to the sluggard who will always find an excuse not to do the things he or she needs to do for themselves and then inevitably will not be able to take care of themselves or meet their obligations. They are reduced to going hat in hand to get help.
The sluggard is not wise or industrious like the ants (Proverbs 6:6). The sluggard is lazy and would rather sleep than work (Proverbs 6:9). You can’t trust him on an errand or job (Proverbs 10:26). Sluggard, used in the English only in Proverbs, is synonymous with slothful, used elsewhere, which has the connotation of lazy everywhere it’s used.
I have pointed out in the letters written to the Christians and, therefore, doctrine to you and me, that some points are made concerning work. Just look at the context of walking orders we’re given in this set of verses where the word “slothful” comes up.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
See here one of the main reasons we are to work hard;
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
And how the person who refuses to work is to be treated.
2Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Other than a simple condemnation of laziness let’s look deeper into the Proverb for the Christian.
We have the words of God, through which God speaks to us, changes us, and makes us useful for his service. The Medieval Waldensians had a saying, “The Holy Scriptures are sufficient to sanctify the believer.” Like a sculptor He uses these words to chip away at the excesses that are not convenient for His will for our lives. Biblical Christianity is a workman’s faith. It is not about the big event every day, the emotional highs, and the sounds of trumpets and angel choirs singing as you go about your daily business. It’s about a day to day relationship with a risen Saviour. You speak to God through prayer and He speaks to you through His words in His Book. In this manner, He molds and shapes you.
Your conscience can be too seared by the world, your flesh, and the Devil for you to trust it. Your inner light may be inner darkness. The things you think God has laid on your heart may be your own carnal imaginations. Slowly, though, as the Holy Spirit speaks to your spirit your life changes. The changes in me may not satisfy you but I am dependent on God to make those changes. Any change I make myself is only temporary as it is based on my own will. I try to do right but often fail. I am weak, given to temptation, and carnal in mind but I want God to change me in any way He sees fit.
The person next to you in the church meeting may not be spiritual enough to suit you but if they are letting God speak to them through His word and speaking His words back to Him in prayer then God is dealing with them. Be satisfied with that, not critical or envious. We must all accept rebuke when we are willfully wrong, edification when we are mistaken, and encouragement when we simply don’t know what to do. The power that God gives us through the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5, starting in verse 22 is a direct result of Christ’s prayer in John 17:17.
But, you Christian, like the sluggard who won’t do the needful thing, to plow, because the excuse of ‘it’s too cold’ will come to a time in their lives when they need God’s power, God’s victory, and when they don’t have it, their faith is harmed or even shattered.
Proverbs 19:3 ¶ The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
You’ll have nothing to strengthen you when tribulation comes and you’ll be begging, believe me, and blaming God or denying Him completely. Every day, read or hear God speak to you through the Book. Meet with other believers as the body of Christ on earth at some point regularly for corporate worship and joint effort for God’s purposes, praising Him, hearing His words preached truthfully, and learning to love your fellow saints in the Lord. Some will meet with hundreds and others will meet with only two or three in fellowship and worship. Also, be constantly in a prayerful state and quit worshipping your Self.
Ah, but then the sluggard will always have a reason not to do the needful things. Like the scorner and the fool, he has little heart for the things of God. How will you stand, Christian, at the Judgment Seat of Christ and answer the Word of God when He asks you what you have done with His words?
Did you put them in your heart?
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Did you tell others about Christ through them?
Psalms 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Did you surrender through them to God to change the very nature of your mind and your heart?
Romans 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Do you understand and accept that God sanctifies you, sets you apart for His purpose for you, through His words? Notice in this parallel of the Christian marriage and the relationship between Christ and His church how the word is used.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
And see a verse I use often about Jesus’ prayer that God sanctify you through His word, which is truth.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Now, I know many Pastors will say that this use of the verse is invalid, that the verse can only be applied to being lazy at soul winning and witnessing. Because it is often used for that purpose I have not gone in that direction. I have focused on the sluggard, the lazy Christian who refuses to acknowledge the power of God through His words to change him and how that Christian finds himself without fruit to show at harvest time when he stands before Christ and no evidence can be seen in his or her heart of the fruit of the Spirit. This Christian will not plant God’s words, His precious seed, in his own heart, because of some excuse; too busy, don’t like to read, blah, blah, blah.
Listen, there are many people drawn to various brands of Christianity as a philosophy because it suits their personality. These people are joiners, like to feel good about what they’re doing, like to have a one up on anyone they consider an “other” in the world, and would basically be good Muslims if they lived in Saudi Arabia or good Hindus if they lived in India. They don’t see the power of God’s word in reality because they don’t think they need to. After all, they can come to church whenever the doors are open, pass out plenty of tracts, shout and raise their hands during a sermon, and appear to be very righteous and holy, voting for the right political party, and advocating the right society. Yet, these people can also have a heart filled with hate, pride, and rebellion towards God. I’m not imputing bad motives to anyone, just saying that it’s possible to fake it because to some, just saying that they’re a Christian is comforting, even if it doesn’t really have a practical application in their heart of hearts.
But, you can’t fake the Fruit of the Spirit for long and the Fruit of the Spirit won’t be a permanent part of your life, particularly for someone as prideful and naturally wicked as myself, unless you submit to God’s word. Do not be a sluggard in planting God’s word either in your own heart or in the ears and eyes of others. Ralph Waldo Emerson, an unsaved humanist, once said “Your actions are speaking so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.” It is clear that for a Christian to do any genuine work for God he must be sincere. For him to be sincere God’s word must be an integral part of his heart and mind. For God’s word to be there the Christian must labor to put it there, to plant, to sow the field that God has turned over with the plow of joy and the plow of tribulation with the precious seed of the word of God.
Thou sluggard, plant and reap or make excuses and beg. You have the decision to make. It is within your grasp. I may not be able to keep myself from sin but I am able to open the Book and read, or pop in the CD and come to the church meeting and hear and let God Himself have the victory.
Please, believe me, Christian. Try it. Open the Bible today and read. Just start to read from Genesis to Revelation. Or begin to hear, from the beginning to the end. I have no ulterior motive. I have nothing to gain if you do or don’t. I’m not trying to get you to come to my church or join my political party. You know you’re not satisfied with your walk with God. Even if you are faithful to church and street preach and listen to gospel music in your car, and get The Sword of the Lord in the mail or In Touch in your email inbox, you know you aren’t satisfied. You keep working and working, maybe practicing as much separation from the world as you can, trying to draw closer to God by making a martyr of yourself and your family but you feel like you’re on a treadmill going nowhere. Maybe you even doubt your faith. Is God real? Am I wasting my time? Perhaps you’ve stopped going to meet with the church, are discouraged, and have just plunged back into the lost world like a cliff diver in Acapulco.
Let God Himself speak to your heart, your spirit, through His words in His Book. You have the key to open up a world of joy and faith and things that you can’t even imagine. Closing your eyes, squinting, and wanting so bad for God to show Himself in your life doesn’t necessarily make it happen. On top of that, your own feelings can deceive you as much as some demagogue on the radio or TV can. How do you know what you are feeling is of God or your own flesh or even of Satan? Do you honestly think that in those old revivals when people started barking, rolling around on the floor, going rigid and stiff, and mumbling incoherently that that was of God? Do you think your constantly doubting your salvation every time you hear a sermon is of God? Do you think God has put it in your heart to lie awake at night crying, wondering whether or not you’re even saved? Do you actually think it’s of God that you are led to hate the lost rather than mourn for them, constantly talking about “those people” like they are an alien attack force from Andromeda instead of flesh and blood people who need Christ?
Let God speak to you through His words. Bible study is good and important but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about, without commentary, after prayer for light, just reading or hearing. Just giving yourself a little time to do that each day will free you from so many of the chains that bind you. I promise.