Wednesday, March 09, 2016

He That Is Slothful - Proverbs 18:9

He That Is Slothful
Proverbs 18:9

“He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” – Proverbs 18:9 (12:27).
The word slothful means a person who is “known to be slack.” It refers to a lazy person (15:19).  It speaks of being lazy or slack, even to release in some contexts, maybe being idle, or perhaps not so much laying around, but not as energetic and thorough in the pursuit of tasks.  It seems like we could take this word in either of two fashions:
It could be speaking of the way in which one pursues a certain needful task (or tasks) that prevents completion in an efficient manner.
Or it be speaking of a habitual manner of conduct where the above idea is the manner in which one conducts oneself in an ongoing manner.
We should also note that the form of the word is a participle which views the verbs as an active idea.  The subject is “being” slothful with the sloth in progress as we are reading or seeing the action.
I think it’s clear that laziness destroys by wiping out what could have been accomplished, losing both time and opportunity.  We do have to note that the language of the verse does seem to indicate that such sloth is the habit of the life of the one in view.  The word is used again in just a chapter or so:
19  The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns,
But the way of the upright is a highway. (Proverbs 15:19)
Obviously this speaks of the results of failing to be diligent and energetic in the pursuit of one’s work.  It is actually quite expressive in describing the result of such slothfulness.  That is at least one of points of the verse.  If we are slothful we will  not reap the results of the labor as we ought to have (and in many cases really want to) reaped.  We do see the results of our work or what is needful, because we did not put the attention or effect into the pursuit of the goal.
It is interesting that verses 9-12 speak of the way things are brought about in life.  Verse 10 & 11 describes two kinds of things that people look to for security (the Lord and riches).  Verse 9 & 12, on the other hand speak of two things that bring about one’s destruction (laziness and pride).  The first by failing to get or gain, the other by as much as casting away what has been gained.  If we look at this section together these proverbs imply that riches can give a false sense of security that leads to laziness, pride, and a downfall, but that humility and the fear of God exalt people.  This is surely what led many prior cultures to keep in their minds the danger of riches and their negative effect on the lifestyle and thinking of men.
The work in question may be one’s own work or a commission from another. In either case slothfulness in its performance will be as injurious as waste is. Indolence and extravagance are, so to speak, brothers; there is an affinity between them. Thus (12:27) a man who is so lazy as not to take the trouble to roast that which he took in hunting, or even to leave it to his dogs, is guilty of waste as well as indolence.
And he who through inertness allows his employer’s business to suffer, is as destructive to his interests as if he threw money away.
Likewise, it is interesting to think through what is connected here.
“He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” – Proverbs 18:9 (12:27).
Waster (AV) refers to one who lays waste, not who wastes time. Solomon is teaching that he who leaves a work undone is, in reality, virtually next of kin to him who destroys it’.  The idea here is that Laziness is destructive. The lines form a comparison to express that the lazy person and the destructive person are equally detrimental to society. The first is “slack” (miṯrappeh) in his work; the other is called baʿal mašḥîṯ (“possessor [= dealer] in/of destruction”; NIV, “one who destroys”). The link between these two is the term “brother”; It is not literally saying that they are physically related, but it signifies that they belong to the same classification, that they are of similar nature. For example, the one who is slack may look for shortcuts and may make things that fall apart. The destruction he brings may be indirect and slow in coming, but it is just as problematic.
The manna-gatherers who should have lost the early morn through sloth, would have wasted the provision sent for them by God from heaven (Exod. 16:21.)  The Book of Proverbs contrasts two paths, or ways of life: the way of wisdom and the way of folly. The slothful person is foolish, while the diligent, hard-working person is wise.
The backwardness of the Jews to build the Temple in Haggai’s time brought upon them a destructive famine (Hag. 1:2–11). In the parables of the talents and of the unfaithful steward, our Lord teaches that he who hides his talent, who as a “slothful servant” neglects to improve it, will be solemnly called to account equally with him who “wastes his (master’s) goods” (Matt. 25:26; Luke 16:1, 2). In the judgment of the Omniscient One the Church that was “lukewarm,” and hence inactive, was the one that needed “counsel” not to waste her opportunities (Rev. 3:16, 18).
The concept in view here speaks of being loose or undisciplined. The Hebrew term can refer to a bow not strung or equipped with an arrow for action (Ps. 78:57; Hos. 7:16). A similar or related Hebrew root describes a loose tongue or mind as deceitful (Job. 13:7; 27:4; Ps. 32:2; 52:4; Mic. 6:12). The slothful person cannot lead but becomes subjected to another’s rule (Prov. 12:24; cp. 10:4; 19:15). God’s work must not be done in such a spirit (Jer. 48:10). A second Hebrew term refers to that which is difficult, heavy, or hindered and indicates foolish laziness or sluggishness. The tribe of Dan was encouraged to take the new territory and not be slothful or reluctant (Judg. 18:9). The wise, hardworking ant illustrates the opposite of sloth (Prov. 6:6), while the sloth wants only to sleep (Prov. 6:9; cp. 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:16). The virtuous woman is the opposite of slothful, not having to live with the results of idle slothfulness (Prov. 31:27). Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “Because of utter laziness, the roof caves in, because of idle hands, the house leaks” (HCSB). Jesus condemned an evil, lazy slave (Matt. 25:26) but praised and rewarded the “good and faithful slave” (Matt. 25:23 HCSB).
Characteristics (Biblically Speaking)
They are lazy and refuse to work - Pr 6:6-8 See also Pr 12:27; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 24:30-31; 26:15
They love to stay in bed when they should be up and active - Pr 6:9 See also Pr 26:14
They make excuses to avoid work - Pr 22:13 See also Pr 26:13
Their desires are not met - Pr 13:4 See also Pr 20:4; 21:25-26
Their laziness leads to poverty - Pr 6:10-11 See also Pr 10:4-5; 12:24; 18:9; 19:15; 20:13; 24:33-34; - Ecc 4:5; 10:18
Their attitude is irritating to others - Pr 10:26
They are conceited - Pr 26:16
Gospel usage.
The noun ‘sloth’ is not found; the adj. ‘slothful’ (ὀκνηρός) occurs once only (Mt 25:26).
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
The wicked, slothful, and unprofitable servant is silhouetted once, for all men and time. The words, ‘Thou wicked and slothful (or lazy) servant,’ ‘were in the Gospel well coupled; and the first epithet was grounded on the second, he being therefore wicked, because he had been slothful’ (Barrow). It is the man of one talent, and he who has buried the same, that is guilty of the sin of sloth. That is true psychology. But let every man give heed unto himself. Genius has yielded to this sin as well as mediocrity. Stewardship of five talents has been neglected, and equally in that case the ‘precipitate’ of character has been sloth.
The life of Jesus a rebuke to slothfulness. - The Savior was in all respects a complete opposite to ‘the slothful servant.’ The zeal of the Lord ate Him up (Jn. 2:17). Early and late He wearied not in well doing, but accomplished what was given Him to do. ‘Our great example, the life of our blessed Lord Himself, what was it but one continual exercise of labor? His mind did ever stand bent in careful attention, studying to do good. His body was ever moving in wearisome travel to the same Divine intent’ (From Martyn Barrow). His practice stimulates to diligence; His preaching warns to avoid sloth. The Apostle Paul was built on the same model. When he bids men be ‘not slothful in business’ (Ro 12:11 AV), these are the words of a man who was in labors most abundant (2 Co 11:23).
There is a literal sense in which these words prove themselves true to demonstration. I have only to compare the dwellings of the slothful and of the thriftless together, and the bareness of both betrays that slothfulness leads to the same end as extravagance, The one folds his arms, the other opens his hand too much. Though God give the prey to the hunter (Gen. 27:20), He will not save him from the consequences, if he wastes what is given. The farmer who neglects his land, is liable to be overrun with weeds and vermin, and to learn by bitter experience how expensive a luxury self-indulgence is. The tradesman who exchanges a lazy assistant for a wasteful one, will find little difference in his losses at the year’s end. So true is it that “time is money.” Yea, of every known prodigality, that of time is the worst. An idle man, equally with a spendthrift, is a burden and eyesore to his kindred, and his own enemy. And if this be true literally as regards this world, so also spiritually as regards the next. There is little to choose between one who squanders his religious privileges and one who neglects them. The barren formalist and the lifeless self-pleaser are alike dead to God.

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