We’re looking at the traps laid in our path that the Proverbs warn us about. This week’s trap is: laziness.
The critique of the sluggard is probably the most sarcastic and stinging in the whole book. When reading that kind of criticism in the Bible, it’s important to remember the distinction between two roles or functions of Scriptures: the law and the gospel.
The law shines a spotlight on our sin and idolatry and it is intended to pierce and convict. The law hurts. But it’s role is not to condemn, but to reveal our need in so that we are prepared for the grace that is offered in Christ. The verses about the sluggard in Proverbs are a great example of the law.
The Law of the Sluggard
1. First the Proverbs tells us that the character of the sluggard is repulsive. (Proverbs 26:12-16 and 24:30-34)
- He doesn’t start things.
- He’s addicted to comfort.
- He’s an expert at making excuses and avoiding responsibility.
- He creates a whole system of wisdom to justify his laziness.
- When he manages to start something he doesn’t finish it.
- He is known by his rundown environment.
2. Then the Proverbs show us that the future of the sluggard is disastrous.
- The sluggards desires will be unfulfilled. (13:4)
- The sluggard’s laziness will rob her of her future enjoyment. (20:4)
- The sluggard’s laziness will bring poverty & shame to her family. (10:4-5)
- The sluggard’s laziness will bring pain to those who rely on her. (10:26)
- The sluggard’s laziness will lead to servitude. (12:24)
- The sluggard’s laziness will create a path of difficulty & hardship. (15:19)
- The sluggard’s laziness will lead to destruction. (18:9)
- The sluggard’s laziness is deadly. (21:25)
Now the question is, what do I do if some of this describes me? That’s where the gospel comes in.
The Gospel of Christ Who Worked For Us
3. The gospel shows us that the sluggard’s cure is Christ.
Christ’s work for us is the cure. He worked faithfully and diligently, when we didn’t and should have. (John 9:4, 4:34, 17:4, 19:30)
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”
On the cross he provided God an offering of perfect work and righteousness on our behalf. He took our laziness onto his shoulders and asks God to credit his diligence to our account.
That means we don’t have to overcome laziness to be right with God. While we were still sluggards, Christ died for us.
While we were still sluggards, Christ died for us.
In that grace we are free to grow in our diligence without fear or shame.
Christ’s work in us is also a cure. Paul expressed this, identifying himself as the sluggard of all sluggards.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10
The gospel brings us back around to the Proverbs instruction about laziness and diligence to show us how to partner with the grace that is active within us.
What project, what act of service or ministry has been waiting too long for the first step? Let’s take action this week and get hustling with the grace of God inside of us.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown