Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.
Proverbs 6:6-11 (NIV) 6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 6:6-11 (NLT) 6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
7 Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
8 they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
A sluggard is a person who is habitually inactive or lazy; an idle person; to be lazy, go slowly; an indolent and slothful person.
Sloth means reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness or a lack of effort; is one who makes no effort mentally, spiritually, and physically; apathy; inactivity; lethargic; indifferent to their duties and obligations; passive and inert.
Have you ever seen a busy lazy person? I mean, they make it their life's work to avoid working. They have all types of schemes and manipulations to get someone else to do the work for them. They use all their intelligence and shrewdness to get out of work! Yep, that's an habitually lazy person! Everyone around them has to pick up the slack because they can't rely on the lazy person to do their part. So those around a lazy person have to not only do their job but drag the other person behind them too. It's not fair.
King Solomon was a wealthy man and his children wouldn’t have to raise a finger for anything. But here is King Solomon advising his son not to be lazy. They had servants, money, armies, butt-kissers (excuse my language) who would have done everything for them. They wouldn't have to get out of bed. They didn't have to clothe themselves or bathe themselves. They didn't have to work a job or make their bed or take out the trash. But this father is warning his son about being lazy and a sluggard.
The title Groom of the Stool originates from the term “close stool,” which was the name for the king’s commode. A velvet covered stool with a hole and a door for removing the royal pot. It was portable and carried with the king so he had access wherever he was, in the castle or on trips. It was a prestigious position, the Groom was generally a nobleman not a simple servant. Because of the intimacy, he had the King's ear and had some influence. He was always with the king. This person likely worked hard to ensure his place in the king’s good graces, and this appointment allowed them to reap rewards. They were well paid. The duty was to assist the king/queen and then remove the contents of the privy pot. No king/queen would walk all the way outside to an outhouse. So chamber pots were used in the close stool. Some historians believe that the groom’s duties involved wiping the king’s bottom. If the king was handicapped, overweight, elderly then they probably did assist in his cleaning. Queen Elizabeth I employed a servant called Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, who temporarily replaced the Groom of the Stool.
But King Solomon is telling his son not to be so lazy. He should get up and get to work! Don't let other people have to do what you can do yourself. You need to pay your own way in this world.
I have heard of children who won't get up to get ready for school. Their mothers (fathers or guardians) have to keep going back to wake them up, get them out of bed, make them get dressed, find their book bags and homework, etc. It's not fair for a parent to have to do that when it's the child's responsibility. Going to their room to wake them up is one thing but to have to keep going back to get the child out of bed and dressed and ready is another. Mother should do her job and child should do their job. Mom wakes them up and sets out their clothes. Mom makes breakfast and drives them to school (or gets them safely to the school bus). CHILD should be responsible for their homework, their book bags, their supplies, getting their teeth brushed, putting on their clothes and being ready to go at the right time. I'm not talking about a child who is too young, but by 7 yrs old they should be able to get themselves together. What the child has done is to put all the responsibility for THEIR day on someone else (Mom, Dad). That's not fair. Mom and Dad don't receive any reward for their child being on time and homework done so why should they be the one doing all the work?
A wise parent will try to teach their child how to do things for themselves and to encourage industry and productivity. They need to learn chores, how to be responsible for themselves. In the adult world, there aren't a lot of people interested in the job of "Groom of the Stool" anymore. Nobody in this world wants to do everything for you and give you a free ride. So it's best to learn early while you are young how to take care of yourself and how to be a team player.
King Solomon says it's best not to be a sluggard and to take the example of the ants.
Ant hills are nests underground. Ants make extensive underground homes. Someone came up with the idea of pouring molten aluminum down an ant hole, letting it cool, then digging up the medal as a type of art. It shows the large and extensive system that we cannot see above ground. It takes a lot of work for tiny ants to make something like that.
I realize that there are people who have a lot of energy and they stay busy. A Type A personality who is always on the go. They seem to have their own motivation. There are people who don't have that much energy and stamina. They are born with a more lethargic temperament.
But that doesn't give us a license to give in and let everyone else do all the work. We should push ourselves to be productive and responsible, to do our share in this world. Being naturally lazy is not what's sinful. It's giving in to it and not fighting it. While you are lazing about and sleeping your life away, someone else is being productive and getting things done.
My parents bought about 25 acres with my Dad's retirement money back in 1981. They allowed us to build our houses on the farm and helped us build them. We had to live in them while we built and finished them. Virtually camping out in them. It took us 3 years to build our original house from start to finish. We paid for it as we went and we did a lot of the work ourselves with the help of Dad and our brother-in-laws. The guys hadn't ever built anything so Dad had to teach them. We lived in an unfinished house for 3 yrs. It was only about 900 sq ft and I designed it myself so we didn't have to pay an architect. It was finished for 2 yrs and we wanted more square footage. So we more than doubled the square footage to 2400 sq ft. But we had to do it in stages and pay for it as we went. It took us 13 yrs to finish the add on and remodeling. So we lived in an unfinished state for 16 of the 19 years we lived on the farm. Meanwhile we were working and keeping the farm up. My husband worked a lot of overtime, went to school, took on side jobs and built a house! I helped all along the way. I worked, I did what I could in building the house and I kept the household running. We were able to purchase other land to add to the farm too. Each of us purchased other acreage. In the end we had 4 houses, barns and about 90 acres.
When I look back now on all that we did, it seems impossible. There was so much sacrifice, so much time, so much hard work. When we sold it we made enough to purchase a house that was very nice. We did extensive remodeling on it and then sold it and bought our "dream home" that was nearly 3,000 sq ft in a nice neighborhood. We had to downsize because our home was in the city limits and they built a brand new, humongous, state-of-the-art high school and the property taxes went up outrageously and we anticipate they will go up even more as they went way over budget. We had done a lot of hard work on that house but we recently sold it and downsized to a nice brick home of 1,700 sq ft and outside the city limits. None of it came easy. It was all hard work to build and maintain. I've mowed grass, cleaned house, done spring cleaning, washed windows, scrubbed mildew off of eaves, painted, removed wallpaper, put up wallpaper, etc just to keep our home nice. Stan has done far more with his skills, muscles and energy. So owning a house for us was never easy. We've had to make some hard choices and live with the results.
But I've heard someone say, "Why do they have the big house and I don't? It's not fair". I want to slap the sense in them! The person I'm talking about didn't have bad luck, they made their own bad luck. I.e. they spent their time partying, using their money on dope, cigarettes, liquor and women. They ended up paying lawyers and fines for DUIs. Their spouse left them and took their kids. They didn't pay their child support and then had to pay a lawyer and fines for non-payment of child support. They didn't go back to school to get a degree. They couldn't keep a job because of their partying. They wouldn't pay their bills and lost their credit rating so they couldn't get a car or rent a place. They ended up relying on everyone else to drive them around, buy their food, give them a place to sleep, etc. But somehow it wasn't fair that those of us who worked hard, sacrificed, raised their families, paid their taxes and bills had a nice home?!?
Unfortunately, that's the way a lot of people are now. They expect the taxpayers to pay for them to sit at home and do nothing. They expect the taxpayers to build them a nice place to live, to give them money for food, to give them a cell phone and color TV, to provide transportation and medical care. And not only do they expect it, they aren't grateful for it and many trash the very things they are given. Our government is punishing those who work hard and pay their way by taking their money away in the form of taxes to give to those who refuse to work and pay their own way. Don't get me wrong, if someone is truly disabled and elderly, they need the help and I'm not averse to that at all. But there are too many able bodied people who have grown up in the system and who know all the ins and outs to get free stuff from the government. They can be dumb as a post about working but smart as a whip about getting something for free. They are wiley, shrewd, and smart when it comes to getting government assistance and taking advantage of the system but can't lift a finger to go to work.
Be one who takes advantage of opportunities. Like the ants take advantage of the warmer season. "Make hay while the sun shines". Maybe you think you don't have any opportunities. Here in America we usually have opportunities. For instance, public school. A child can attend school through high school without having to pay for it. If you are financially unable, they will even give you free breakfast and lunch. There are school buses that come to pick you up if your family doesn't have a car. That's an opportunity every child can take advantage of. What you learn, no one can take away from you. So apply yourself and learn all you can. There are scholarships for those who have good grades and have applied themselves in school so you might can get a free college education. That's an opportunity! Maybe you have television. Instead of wasting your time on cartoons and Jerry Springer, watch shows on history, jobs (such as the Ice Road Truckers, Dirty Jobs, home improvement shows, etc), learning shows. That's an opportunity! If you have access to the internet check out podcasts and learning videos. That's an opportunity! If you can read, use the public library for reading free books! That's an opportunity! If you have a healthy body, strength, and can breath... that's opportunities! Use those assets to get ahead! That's an opportunity! Don't waste your time, your youth, your strength and energy, your assets. Use them and take advantage of the opportunities!
Do what is necessary to get where you want to be. Be diligent and persistent without someone holding your nose to the wheel. An ant is diligent and persistent and they never quit no matter what catastrophe wipes out their hard work. They just start again.
Some people can’t seem to connect the negative consequences they experience to the poor decisions they make. It's irrational. They will choose a poverty induced lifestyle rather than put forth the effort to do better for themselves. They will live in a hovel, a nasty mess, because they won't do anything about it. They have made the choice to live like that rather than exert the effort to make their home a better place. That is a choice they make. Even if you live in a tent, you don't have an excuse to be nasty! You can still take trash to a trash can, use a cheap bar of soap to clean yourself with or sweep a floor. I know there are people who may be physically unable to do things for themselves due to health problems and age, and I'm not talking about them. There are places in this world where it may be very difficult to live cleanly. But in America, there is rarely an excuse. You can go into a bathroom at McDonalds and wash your face and hands for free. You can get help in many ways. When I see people who are able to walk all over town pushing a buggy cart full of junk and able to stand for hours panhandling by the roadside, I have to wonder why they don't have the energy to work a job or to keep themselves and their habitation cleaner? Someone owned a piece of property on Main St. The property isn't worth much as it's just a massive ditch filled with scrub brush and trees. They've bought and paid for it and pay the taxes on it. But a couple of years ago some vagrants took up tent residence on it back in the trees. This group had made a filthy mess back in there. Trash everywhere and they were panhandling on the road. The owner had to pay to have bulldozers come in and clean out the vegetation so they could get rid of the vagrants. Their insurance was insistent, as was the city. So, at their own expense, they had to clean it out. The vagrants just walked away and I'm sure they took up residence somewhere else. But we were amazed at the filth they left. Shredded tents, human waste, trash! If they made the mess, why shouldn't they have to clean it up?
When you watch hoarding TV shows, you see people who are, or were, able to put the trash in the trash can and take the trash for disposal. They are able to empty their refrigerator regularly and wash their dishes. They are able to do regular maintenance in their home and hygiene for themselves but they simply don't. They are sluggards, slothful. They would rather live in the filth with the bugs and rats than clean up after themselves. It ends up making the home uninhabitable, destroys the surrounding neighborhood which lowers the other property values, and costs taxpayers for cleanup. How fair is that? I clean my house. I take out my trash. I vacuum and mop my floors. I make sure my yard is presentable. So how fair is it for the government to take my money and pay to clean someone else's house and yard up? It's not!
This is why God says that sloth is a sin.
It's not just about being lazy and not getting a job.
Why is sloth a sin? Because a slothful person refuses to take the trouble to get to know God. They see spiritual things as boring and not worth the trouble. They are apathetic about their relationship with God. They no longer have any zeal and have lost their first love because they see it as too hard. They have an aversion to God and see the Christian life as laborious, boring, joyless. There is no joy in seeking God, but rather indifference, an inertness. They lack the power to move and have no motivation to seek God and follow His Ways. They don't want to spend any energy towards God.
A person who is a workaholic can still be slothful. They are slothful when it comes to God. They can bury themselves in activity and work so they can avoid God. In today's world there are a thousand things that can take our attention away from the Lord and we let them. From the time we wake up until we fall into bed to sleep, there is almost never a moment of silence or a time when we are not being bombarded by images, often flickering and quickly changing. We are constantly overstimulated and it's removing our ability to focus on God. We can't focus. We can't sit still in silence for one minute. We can't keep our mind still enough to pray. We can't understand what we are reading because our mind is jumping to something else. We get bored if we sit still without the TV on. Thought and meditation seems beyond our ability because we can't sit down, shut up and be quiet for even a minute.
Spending time with God requires quiet time. We must have time to dialogue with God in prayer without interruption. We must have time to read His Word without someone or something else clamoring for our attention. We need to concentrate. We need to have time to ponder, reflect, think and meditate on what we learn in His Word. We need some praise and gratitude time. We need to be able to get ourselves together and go to church and place our attention on God for that few hours each Sunday.
If we aren't doing these things, then we are being spiritually slothful. In today's world, all of this take effort. It means we have to get up and make the time for God. It means we have to force ourselves to concentrate and focus. It means we have to shut out the distractions and do it. This is overwhelming for Americans today. They may even make it to church on Sundays but they are just sitting there being spoon fed the Word. They aren't making an effort, they are passive. I can only feel sorry for the pastors who can't get their congregations to move in any way or direction. It must be so frustrating! No matter how much cheering and rah-rahing the pastor does on Sunday, the people just sit there and sleepily blink, watching their watch to see how much time they have left before they can get back in their car and go home.
When we decide that God is worth it, then we will begin to make the effort. It's not easy, but let me tell you... the more you spend time with God, the more time you want to spend with Him. Before long you look forward to that quiet time with Him. You begin to treasure your time with Him. You begin to be excited about what you are learning. It's no longer a duty or a chore, it's a wonderful time! But it starts with you having to make the effort. It will feel like all hell breaks loose when you try to have your quiet time. Satan doesn't want you to spend time with God so he will try everything to stop you. It will take all your effort to concentrate. But as you begin, you will find the Holy Spirit comes alongside and helps you so that your effort isn't wasted. Remember the children of Israel at the Red Sea? The Egyptians were coming and they had nowhere to go. They had to gather their families, pick up their bundles and walk to the shore and stick their foot in the water. Then the water dashed back and towered in walls on either side of them and they were able to walk on dry land to the other side! Make the effort and be consistent. Then wait for walls of water to part!
- Define a sluggard and a sloth.
- Have you been lazy at times? Was it fair to the others around you? Was it worth it?
- Have you missed opportunities because of sloth? Did you not realize they were opportunities? Can you name some missed opportunities that you regret?
- Look at the ant again and journal about their characteristics and how they work.
- Have you been jealous, covetous of what others have? Do you realize how hard they work (and are working) to have what they have? Are you willing to do that? What kind of sacrifice and hard work are you willing to do?
- Have you been relying on someone else to do the work so you can be lazy? Your parents, spouse, co-workers, classmates, friends, taxpayers? Put yourself in their place and journal how you would feel. How fair is it?
- Have you been spiritually slothful? Have you neglected God for other things? Journal what you think it means to be spiritually slothful.
- Can you see why sloth is wasteful? Wasting our time and effort on passing worldly things with no value and no heavenly reward?
- Have you lacked motivation to spend time with God? How do you think you can get your zeal back, your motivation to propel you back into God's loving arms? He is always there, ready for you.
- Can you trust the Holy Spirit within you to help you as you begin to make the effort?
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.