1. This proverb speaks about a single issue: the sluggard.
2. The book of Proverbs has much to say about the sluggard, but this passage looks at him from only one dimension… what he is to others.
As vinegar to the teeth and as smoke to the eyes…
1. Vinegar, or something similar that is strongly acidic causes the teeth to stand on edge…
a. It is an uncomfortable feeling.
b. Every little grinding action of the teeth seems accentuated.
2. Smoke to the eyes…
a. At the very least is irritating… even painful.
b. Smoke in your eyes hinders you from seeing…
c. When there is smoke in your eyes, you have to stop what you are doing to rub your eyes and take care of the irritation.
d. It is crippling.
e. It brings tears.
So is the sluggard to them that send him…
A. Sending a Sluggard
1. The sluggard mentioned here has obviously been “sent” on a mission.
a. He has been given a job to do… a mission to carry out… a ministry or service to perform…
b. Whoever sent him put confidence in him… trusted him to do the job… is counting on him… relying upon him… perhaps MANY people are relying upon him.
2. Sluggard: a sluggard is a lazy, slothful person.
a. A sluggard does not take his job seriously.
b. He doesn’t really care about the success or failure of his role. He’s just putting in time.
c. Sluggards are to be found everywhere.
d. Schools: some students are lazy and sluggish in doing their work. Some teachers are lazy and sluggish in preparing to teach.
e. Workplace: Does anyone here know someone in your workplace who fits this bill? Have you ever worked with a lazy person?
f. Government: Some people get a government job and think they are now entitled to loaf the rest of their lives.
• Have you ever seen a sign on the road that says, “Men working”? You rarely do!
g. Pastors: some pastors are sluggish in their duties too! “Much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (Ecc. 12:12)
• Some pastors are not willing to weary themselves in the study of the Word. (ex: “I am not a student; I can’t teach the Bible…)
• Just because someone holds that position, doesn’t mean he is faithfully carrying out his duties.
• Some men assume that once they graduate from seminary, their studies are over!
h. Sunday school teachers: Some Sunday school teachers wait until the last minute to look over their lesson. No preparation… little prayer… little study… slothful.
i. Parents: Almost anyone can bring children into the world. That’s no great feat.
• However, it takes a lot of effort, time, energy, money, sacrifice, and hard work to see that they turn out right.
• Some parents are sluggish in their responsibilities as parents…
• They may be fantastic breadwinners, but sluggish in their real parental duties.
• Some kids are left to themselves. (Prov.2 9:15 – a slothful parent will pay for it one day.)
j. Children: Some kids are slothful… in doing their chores at home… in doing their schoolwork… picking up their room… have their own personal devotion time… serving in the local church…
k. Let’s face it: sluggards are found everywhere… in every walk of life… sluggards are found in every culture… in every company… in every church… in every country…their battle cry is “manyana.”
• Obviously, Solomon observed this often… and wrote about it often.
• Human nature is the same today.
• This is a subject we need to consider too.
B. The Sluggard Irritates Those Who Sent Him
1. The sluggard is irritating to those who sent him… and to the MANY who were counting on him to do his job… like vinegar on the teeth or smoke in the eyes.
2. This is the main point of the proverb. There are lots of sluggards out there… and every one of them is an irritation to others.
3. Prov. 25:19 – He is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.
a. Here Solomon speaks about the very same issue: confidence in an unfaithful man.
b. You give someone a job to do, but they are unfaithful.
c. You place confidence in that person… expecting the job to be taken care of… and it isn’t!
d. Like a broken tooth.
• You are unaware that your tooth is broken… or perhaps you forget, and you bite down on something.
• You have confidence your tooth will function, but it doesn’t! It causes you great pain instead!
• Those in charge give people jobs to do and SHOULD be able to get busy on other issues and not give that chore another thought. Just like our teeth should work. When they work faithfully we don’t give another thought to biting down on a piece of food.
• A servant is like a tooth. When it works faithfully you don’t give it another thought. When it doesn’t do it’s job—OUCH! It hurts.
• We have a lot of servants here who are faithful! I never have to worry whether they are going to show up and do their job… reliable… trustworthy… faithful. Praise God!
e. Like a foot out of joint.
• This is another illustration teaching the exact same truth.
• When your foot works well, you don’t think about it. (How much thought did you give your foot today?)
• When a person walks he just expects that his foot will hold him up… that it will bend… and he can walk smoothly.
• But if your foot gives out on you (when you were counting on it to hold you up)—it can cause great trouble to you!
• If a mountain climber’s foot gives out on him, he could fall to his death! If a skier’s foot refuses to cut his edge into the snow, it could spell disaster for him! Or something as simple as climbing the stairs—if your foot proves to be unreliable, it can cause great harm!
• So is the unfaithful servant. If people are counting on you to do your job and you are not reliable—it can cause great harm… hurt… and trouble to others.
f. Solomon wrote about this often because it is quite likely that as KING he experienced this trouble and pain often!
• As a king, he would have appointed many people to many different tasks in the kingdom.
• Some would be faithful workers and he wouldn’t have to give that department a second thought. Those are the kind of workers the king would want! Anyone would want!
• Others would prove to be unreliable… and would become the source of much grief to him… a thorn in the flesh… and trouble to the nation.
4. This principle holds true in countless different scenarios.
a. The President appoints men to various panels—and relies upon them to do their job.
• President Bush has just appointed the former governor of PA to head up anti-terrorism task force. Pray that this man would be reliable!
• If HE loafs on the job, it could harm many others… beyond irritating to deadly! Pray for him.
• The way we do our job will have an effect on others.
• If someone’s job is to protect our country from terrorists, it is obvious that it is important for him not to be a sluggard. (Get ‘em!)
b. You wouldn’t want a firefighter to be lazy when the bell rings! When you need emergency medical attention you don’t want someone who is lazy… and will get around to it when they feel like it!
c. Perhaps some folks here have been irritated because of a sluggard in the office—who never does his job… or never finishes his job… or does a poor job because he is lazy… and YOU have to pick up the slack! Irritating!
d. Perhaps you have been irritated by a check out clerk who was slow as molasses…
e. Perhaps you have been irritated by the lackadaisical attitude of workers in a store… a garage… or at the registry. They don’t seem to care if you dropped dead before them. They seem to be bothered no end if you have the audacity to ask them a question.
f. They irritate you. But eventually they will irritate the one who sent them… the one who hired them for that position.
g. This is the sluggard. He is like smoke in the eyes… vinegar on the teeth… a broken tooth… or a sprained ankle…
5. DON’T put confidence in them!
a. That’s the lesson to learn from this.
b. If you are a leader in a ministry… don’t accept workers unless you can count on them… they must be reliable… faithful…
c. Some Christians are not reliable… but are sluggards. I have met believers I would never hire if I were working in the personnel department for a corporation.
d. This quality has nothing to do with talent or ability. There are some extremely talented people who are not reliable. They possess much ability but not much reliability.
e. Don’t put confidence in that which is unreliable… like a broken tooth or a sprained ankle… because it will be painful and irritating… like smoke in your eyes or vinegar on your teeth.
6. The sluggard is that irritating to those who send him. So DON’T be one!
a. If we know how much trouble it can cause… how much pain it might involve… how irritating it is to others, then DON’T DO IT!
b. Rom.12:11 – not slothful in business; but fervent in spirit!
c. Ecc. 9:10 – do your job… perform your ministry… with all your might!
7. In the church:
• Church dinners – if you sign up to bring the mashed potatoes and don’t bring them… then that can irritate those who were counting on you! If you sign up to go and someone buys and prepares food for you and you don’t show up… that can be like smoke in the eyes!
• Sunday school teachers – Who would want a Sunday school teacher whom you couldn’t rely upon to be there! You may be an extremely gifted teacher, but if we can’t count on you to be there… what good is your gift? It is wasted.
• Building project – decisions were made based upon the amount of man-hours signed up for. If you volunteer to do a job, then do it! Be faithful.
• Choir – You may have a fantastic voice and be gifted in music, but if you’re missing half the time, then it becomes an irritant to the choir director—who “sent” you there to do a job. It can hold up the rest of the choir from learning the song…
• Clean up crew – if you volunteer to do church clean up and you don’t show up, then the church members sit in a dirty building that Sunday. It is like stepping on a sore ankle… you expect it to work, but it doesn’t.
8. In the world workers who cannot be relied upon are fired…or they don’t get a pay raise or a promotion. That motivates them to do a good job.
• In the Lord’s work, our payday doesn’t come in this life. But that is no excuse for sloppy work. God wants our best.
• In fact, we should be even MORE motivated than workers in the world. We will be rewarded with that which is eternal!
• Col.2:22-24 – not with eyeservice… but from the heart…we receive a reward from the Lord. This goes for how we perform our ministries at church AND how we do our duties at work… AND how we do our duties at home!
9. The opposite is true also. When folks do their jobs faithfully, it is a delight! (Prov. 25:13)
a. Just as the unfaithful worker irritates the one who sent him, the faithful worker is refreshing to the one sent him! (master)
b. In the local church, when each member is FAITHFUL in performing their ministry, the Body functions smoothly… to the glory of God.
c. I Cor. 12:22 – even those members that seem feeble… insignificant are necessary. It is necessary for them to be faithful too… or the body will not function properly. (Just like our physical body requires faithfulness on all the tiny, seemingly insignificant, and unnoticed organs… or there could be a SERIOUS IRRITATION to your health and well being!
d. Don’t be unreliable. That quality irritates people. Don’t be a pain!
e. Be faithful… reliable… trustworthy… dependable… that quality is a delight.