Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Proverbs 24:30-34 Don't let weeds grow under your feet!

One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones,

    and then passed the vineyard of a lout;

They were overgrown with weeds,

    thick with thistles, all the fences broken down.

I took a long look and pondered what I saw;

    the fields preached me a sermon and I listened:

“A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,

    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?

Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,

    with poverty as your permanent houseguest!” (Proverbs 24:30-34 The Message)

Our final passage in this chapter of Proverbs ends with an observation from which Solomon drew a lesson. He was out walking, when he passed by the rundown field of a man whom the English Standard Version calls a “sluggard.” His property was a wreck - overgrown with thorns and weeds, fences laying over in disrepair, and, had it been in modern times, there probably would have been a rusted old truck with the hood up next to a ramshackle barn.

Later he walked past a vineyard that was equally overgrown. He tells us he took “a long look and pondered” what he saw. It was as if he was being preached to by these images. He saw that the decrepit conditions of the men and their properties had to do with a laziness that permeated their lives. He could hear these men saying to themselves, “Before I get to the harvesting, I’m just going to take a quick nap.” Or “I’ll just rest here in the shade for a minute while I think about how to tackle that broken-down tractor.” And the result of such a lackadaisical attitude: nothing gets done, and the men end up in poverty as their “permanent houseguest!”

One of the great challenges of a teacher is to find the key to motivating an indifferent student - the “sluggard” who consistently turns in poor quality work (if he turns it in at all) just to get it over with, or the whiner who complains, “I’m bored,” when the teacher has failed to entertain sufficiently! Invariably these are the ones who go home and passively watch TV or play video games for hours after school, and somehow the homework never gets completed. They have no curiosity or vision of the world outside themselves. All their “wants” are met by Mom and Dad, and they have never had to do a single chore at home. They expect a reward for every little thing they do, because they are so used to “winning” a trophy for just showing up.

Thankfully, this kind of student is a minority in the classroom, or we would have teachers trampling over each other to get out of the profession! But, when you have one in your classroom (or a few), you want to shake the parents!  Teach your children the value of hard work!  Get rid of the video games!

Solomon makes a direct correlation here to slothfulness and poverty. He is NOT saying that all poor people are lazy. Frequently the poor among us are working several jobs just to keep food on their table! Many show an industriousness that is amazing! However, I think Solomon’s conclusion would be that LAZY people DO end up in poverty. If your bottom needs to be surgically removed from the couch - or your favorite subject in school is recess - we may have a problem, Houston!

Paul reminds us that the Christian life is a race with a glorious prize waiting for us at the finish line. It’s a race that requires effort and endurance and a vision of the goal:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (I Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Let’s keep focused on the prize so that we won’t grow weary - and let's teach and model that lesson for our kids!  

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