The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 22:11-21 He who loves purity of heart And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend. The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man. The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!” The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; He who is cursed of the Lord will fall into it. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, That they may be ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have taught you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, To make you know the certainty of the words of truth That you may correctly answer him who sent you?
Yesterday, I was worn out from work this week and sat down to flip through the tv channels. As usual there was not much of value on. Just before I pushed the button to turn off the television, my surfing landed me on an old western tv show that I remember watching as a child: Maverick, with James Garner. Anybody remember it? Well, this particular episode was about the operator of a printing press stirring up trouble with the town ruffians by printing out some literature that cast them in very negative light. These roughnecks headed over to the print shop after destroying the town tavern, looking for the owner of the print shop. When they arrived, the only person there was the man actually operating the printing press, so these men proceeded to interrogate the printer, striking him repeatedly, demanding to know where the owner was. Unbeknownst to them all, the owner stood on the other side of the door to an adjacent room, listening to the whole thing. Trembling, with fear on his face, he remained firmly planted on the wrong side of the door, failing to help his employee. Once the beating stopped and the bullies had left, he entered the room to find his employee dead. After a few moments Maverick showed up, and the owner admitted that he had cowered in fear, acknowledging that he could have possibly saved a man’s life by doing the right thing. Maverick listened with disgust. It could be argued that the owner of the print shop was guilty of nothing more than run of the mill cowardice. However, as is often the case with us, this man was nothing more than a sluggard. The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!”
In speaking about this verse, John Piper says that the sluggard sacrifices truth on the altar of self justification. Seeking to provide cover for his laziness, the sluggard will prop up excuse after excuse to justify why they fail to do their duty before God. Ne’re-do-well, layabout, do-nothing, idler, loafer, lounger, good for nothing, shirker, and underachiever all describe the sluggard and his ways. Filled with cravings, the sluggard will shirk all responsibility, even to the detriment of their own well being. Listen to these proverbs that describe the way of the sluggard:
How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.
The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.
What does the sluggard in your life look like? Maybe it’s when your child needs to be disciplined, but you fear the nagging of your wife, so instead of correcting your child while there is still hope, you sacrifice them on the altar of sluggardness. Perhaps you have noticed the disturbed neighbor, say a single mom who is rumored to be a prostitute. Instead of praying for her, knocking on her door and sharing the gospel and God’s love with her, you choose to speculate and what if endlessly, because you are too lazy to get involved with that mess. Are you sluggardly towards your parents? Is seeking to honor your father and mother too much of an inconvenience for you, because you would rather sluggardly pursue your own cravings? What about your pursuit of holiness, without which no one will see the Lord? Have your shirking ways led you down a path of worldliness, with you being content to go with the flow, rather than making war with the flesh, the world, and satan? How might you be sluggardly today? Like the sluggard using a lion in the street to justify his lazy, ne’re to do ways, how might you be seeking to justify your sin before God? Let us kneel and pray, confessing our sins to Almighty God.
Heavenly Father, just as Adam was in the garden, so are we sluggardly and lazy in our relationship to You and our neighbor. Often times we would see someone stumble towards hell rather than rise up and do the things You have commanded us. Just as the sluggard who uses the lion to justify sin, we often point to insignificant factors as to why we shirk our responsibilities. Father, in these moments, we lack faith. We fear the roar of the lion rather than You. We are so intoxicated by our laziness, that we often sin against You so that we can worship at the feet of our idols of comfort, ease, and no responsibility. Father, we are often very deceived, because many of the things we choose in our moments of underachieving aren’t inherently sinful, but they become sinful when we set aside our responsibilities. Father, please be merciful towards us and shine Your light upon us, that we might recognize where we live as sluggards, and repent. It’s in Jesus name we pray, amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Psalm 31:19-20 How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lift up your hearts!
(From the 8-19-18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)