There is a Lion Without!
The Slothful Man
1. We have seen this character before in Proverbs.
2. Slothful means lazy, sluggard; slow to take any action, suggesting a lack of discipline or initiative, as a moral failure.
3. This is more than a personality trait, a cultural issue, or a natural disposition.
4. It is a moral failure. That is how it is viewed in Proverbs.
5. The slothful man is not to be coddled or pitied as if he caught a disease through no fault of his own.
6. He is to be blamed for his laziness and he will bear the consequences of his laziness. This is how Solomon describes the problem in the book of Proverbs.
7. Consider what Solomon has said about the slothful man in this book:
a. Prov. 18:9 – He is a great waster of that which God has given him. (time; talents; intellect; etc.)
• Waste = destroy; corrupt; go to ruin; decay; to be marred; be spoiled.
• He allows what God has granted to him to ROT… to be ruined… spoiled… wasted.
• A waster is one who starts off with something valuable, but through neglect, it is brought to ruin… wasted.
• It is a waste of potential… in his family life… in his career… and especially in his spiritual life.
• Spiritually we are blessed with ALL spiritual blessings in Christ and are complete in Him.
• But not every believer is diligent about USING what God has given us. Some are wasters.
b. Prov. 26:16 – They often think themselves to be smarter than everyone else.
• They are so smart that they can get by without working!
• They are so smart they don’t need to study at school.
c. Prov. 10:26 – He is an irritant to those who expect him to work.
• Nobody wants a worker like this man.
• He probably cannot keep a job very long even when he does go to work.
• He is sent to do a job, and people are counting on him… and are disappointed because the job doesn’t get done.
• Maybe he works at your office!
• They irritate people—like smoke in the eyes.
• And they are found everywhere—in the workplace, in the home, in government, and in the local church.
d. Prov. 10:4 – He will become poor.
• All things being equal, hard work usually pays off and results in a measure of prosperity.
• But laziness results in poverty. That man will never advance anywhere.
e. Prov. 21:25 – he refuses to labor!
• Refuse: Resist; i.e., be in a state of defiance or rebellion; the rejection of an offer. It is a strong term.
• II Thess. 3:10 – Here Paul states that if “a man WOULD not work, neither should he eat.” (He was able bodied, but unwilling.)
• This is a committed, dedicated, defiant sluggard.
• Even before sin entered the world, God intended Adam to be a diligent worker in the garden. He was not to sit around and admire the garden and its flowers. He was to TEND to the garden. Tending to was work; it meant he had take care of it daily.
f. Prov. 20:13 – He may not have enough food to provide for himself or his family.
• Prov. 19:15 – He will suffer hunger.
• Prov. 20:4 – He may end up begging.
g. Prov. 12:24 – He will find himself living under bondage—to all of his debt.
• The slothful man will find himself with no money… borrowing money… spending more than he makes… and thus becoming a “slave” to his credit card company… or the bank… etc.
• He will never be a ruler, but will always be ruled over. And Solomon puts the blame on his own shoulders: laziness.
h. Prov. 15:19 – His life is like a hedge of thorns.
• He will be confronted with difficult obstacles continually throughout his life… obstacles of his own making.
• They will hinder his progress in life.
• He was too lazy to go to school and do his homework—will result in hindering the progress of his career path.
• He will face closed doors where others who were hard working will find open doors.
• Life for him will be like walking through a maze made of a hedge of thorns. No matter what direction he looks, he sees an insurmountable barrier… and yet another reason to quit trying.
i. Prov. 21:25-26 – It is a miserable life of desiring to have what others have, but NOT having…
• And living with the guilt of knowing WHY… because he is lazy!
• He covets all day long… and never has.
• And it kills him. It eats away at him inwardly. There is jealousy and envy.
• It is torture to watch others enjoy the fruit of their labors and he is not able to do so… because he didn’t labor.
j. Prov. 26:14 – And he has no peace of mind.
• He lays awake at night – restless. Again, due to guilt… due to the fact that he may have been lounging around all day long not working… dozing off and taking naps.
• And thus when night time comes, he cannot sleep.
• He rolls over all night long… thinking… desiring but not having… perhaps hungry… living with guilt and regret.
8. Solomon does not coddle or indulge the slothful man in his sluggishness.
a. He rebukes him! He warns him. He tries to throw a proverbial glass of cold water in his face to wake him up.
b. Solomon doesn’t feel sorry for him like a man who happened to come down with an eye disease and goes blind.
c. When you come down with a disease, usually it is not your fault.
d. But laziness is not a disease. It is a SIN. It is a moral failure and Solomon treats it as such.
e. He is even a bit harsh in his treatment, but it is for the GOOD of the lazy man. Love has to be tough at times.
f. Love does not pamper moral failure.
There is a Lion Without! I shall be slain in the streets!
1. Each of the various proverbs dealing with this perennial human problem approaches the subject from a slightly different angle.
a. Some proverbs highlighted the fact that laziness is often associated with pride (I’m smarter than the foolish people who do all that hard work!)
b. Some proverbs associate laziness with waste.
c. Most of them serve as warnings, reminding the readers of the consequences of laziness.
2. But this proverb addresses one other issue that is common to lazy people: excuses!
a. This excuse is almost comical. He is afraid to go to work (so he says) because there are lions outside. He could be killed!
b. He was a lazy man and inactive—but his imagination was not inactive.
c. It may have been true that there were lions in the area, but they didn’t normally venture into the city. What are your chances of being eaten by a lion?
d. But, everyone else went to work and they weren’t killed by a lion.
e. There are bears in New Hampshire, but your chances of being killed by a bear are pretty slim.
f. You might be killed driving down route 93 too, but people still go to work.
g. There is no such thing as a risk free environment.
h. Deep down inside, the sluggard really must have known that the chances of being killed by a lion were miniscule.
i. Perhaps he was running out of excuses.
j. But that didn’t matter. The lazy man is diligent in daydreaming and he could easily conjure up a whole zoo full of creatures and other excuses why he should not go out to work.
k. He could imagine endless excuses and obstacles to him getting to work.
l. He was really just trying to JUSTIFY his laziness and make himself appear to be respectable.
m. However, his lame excuse was pretty easy to see through.
n. These are the silly excuses of a man who is guilt ridden because of his laziness, and is trying to appease his conscience because deep down inside he KNOWS that his problem is laziness, though he would never admit it.
o. His excuses are lame pretenses and everybody knows it. He isn’t fooling anybody but himself—certainly not God!
p. His real problem is not the imaginary lion in the street. The real problem is his laziness. Remove the laziness, and the lion in the street will suddenly disappear.
q. Matthew Henry had this to say about his excuse of the lion: “He considers not his real danger from the devil, that roaring lion, which is in bed with him, and from his own slothfulness, which kills him.”
3. This quality affects the whole man’s life.
a. If you are lazy by nature, it will adversely affect everything you do.
b. If you work, it will mean poor work. It will affect your co-workers, for they will have to do the work you don’t. It will affect your employer. He is paying for work twice.
c. It will affect your career. You will not progress very far if you are lazy. You will discover a hedge of thorns has blocked your progress.
d. It will affect your marriage. Your spouse will be constantly irritated by your laziness and sloth around the house. If it is the wife, the household chores will be neglected. If it is the husband, then the house will fall into disrepair.
e. Because of your laziness, your family could suffer hunger… and lack things that they need and SHOULD have… if only you were more diligent in your work.
f. Slothfulness affects more than your own life; it affects everything and everyone around you.
g. We devise such clever excuses: “You don’t know the trouble I’ve seen. You don’t know my circumstances… what I’m up against. If you only knew, then you would understand!”
h. But we don’t have to hide behind excuses which are nothing but smoke screens for our laziness.
4. George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
a. Carver was no stranger to adversity and could have easily made excuses for not succeeding. But that wasn’t his way.
b. Despite being born into slavery, he rose above his circumstances. He earned a B.S. and then an M.S. in agriculture from Iowa State College, and he dedicated himself to teaching poor African-American farmers.
c. He developed an extension program at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute to take the classroom to the people in the South, teaching agriculture methods and home economics.
d. And his research resulted in the development of hundreds of products made from crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes. He did all that despite working with limited resources and opportunities because of segregation. Where others might have offered excuses, Carver achieved excellence.
5. Excuses in the spiritual life:
a. We make excuses for our carnality. “I’ve had a rough life. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home.”
b. We make excuses for not reading the Word. “I work too many hours. I’m too tired. I’m not a good reader. I would rather have pastor explain the Bible to me.”
c. It is human nature to make excuses.
• Adam excused his sin by blaming his wife.
• Aaron excused his sin of making the golden calf while Moses was on the mount. He said, “I had the people throw their gold jewelry into a molten pot, and out came this golden calf!”
• The lazy man might excuse himself from going to work because of lions. But lions didn’t stop David or Daniel. They trusted God and faced the lions.
d. If we really want to read the Word, we can. If we really want to make it to church we can. If we really want to walk with God we can… even though our adversary walks about as a roaring lion!