Observations From Daily Life
For a person with their eyes opened, ears tuned, and hearts ready to learn, the practical aspects of life shall prove to be a place that will teach them many lessons. Daily growth is easy to glance over. In the hustle and bustle of life, our attention can be anywhere but where we actually are in the moment. Proverbs teaches us to have our eyes wide open as we go through life learning from the events which unfold around us. Consider, for example, the lesson taught by observing a field:
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” -Proverbs 24:30-34
The field of the sluggard taught the writer of this Proverb about the danger of slothfulness. Yes, it is true that sometimes the weeds grow because a man has injured himself and cannot pull them. Likewise, over the course of life, there will be seasons when family emergencies occur making the weeds much less than a top priority. Even when stating these things, the Proverbs are meant to give us general truths which apply to our lives. Therefore, the typical reason a field is overgrown with weeds is simply because the owner has chosen the path of slumber as opposed to that of diligence!
Understanding The Error of The Slumbering Man
This proverb gives us multiple descriptions of the problem this particular person has in their life. First of all, notice the reason the field and vineyard are out of shape is simply because of the neglect of simple tasks. It is overgrown with thorns and covered with nettles (thorny-like plants). The stone wall is broken down. Weeds do not simply take over a field in one day, but by continual neglect, until it becomes a problem over the course of time. This text mentions no catastrophic weather which caused the wall to break down. Rather, we are right to understand this text as saying through the individual’s continual slothfulness and neglect, the wall reached a horrific state over the course of time. One stone is broken off after the other, then eventually, the entire wall is in disarray. A lack of planning, poor diligence, and a pathetic work ethic has caused this current situation. In other words, the problem goes deeper than the weeds in the field, it is an issue of weeds in the soul.
Our understanding of the soul of this field owner is driven by how the proverb describes this man. He is a sluggard who lacks sense (30) and the lesson derived from the field is “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man (33-34).” Instead of working diligently, the goal of this man is simply to fold up his hands and rest. This fact evidences his lack of understanding because instead of seeing what would happen by his laziness, he simply indulges in it while his entire livelihood and property crumble around him. Proverbs 21:25 aptly says:
“The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” -Proverbs 21:25
The slothful man is driven by the desires of the flesh refusing even to work. He refuses to plow his field in the cold in order to be able to harvest it later, then turns around and seeks to have something at harvest time only to find nothing in his field because of his own lack of work (Proverbs 20:4). Scripture does not encourage a man to be a workaholic, after all, we are to pattern our work after God who rested on the seventh day (see Genesis 1-2). Instead, we are to diligently put our hands to the task laboring hard for the glory of God. A wise man plans time to rest knowing his body needs it in proper proportion. The foolish sluggard rests by putting off till tomorrow what should be done today until everything in his world collapses.
Applying The Lesson of The Slumbering Man
Likely, in the field or vineyard of life, many of us have some unsightly weeds which we have allowed to grow. Perhaps some of these are due to extenuating circumstances beyond our control, it is certainly hard to pull weeds if both of your hands are broken! An honest evaluation demands that for most of us, the major issues in our lives do not stem merely from external circumstances. Rather, they are from our own choices which need to be reformed according to biblical standards (even in terms of how we react when external circumstances push us). The first point that marks the sluggard is that he lacks sense, we must not fall prey to that trap. Our first step to removing the weed in our life is to wake up, grow up, and point out where they are and why they exist. If it is a physical issue, such as being overweight, perhaps overindulging in candy bars after a day’s work is causing some problems. Then again, it might be the weedy relationship with your son because you are not investing in him after a long day at the office. Perhaps, you are neglecting your vocational duties allowing the walls to break down because you are sluggishly spending too much time on social media. Whatever the case, spot the issue, then grow in the wisdom to see how to change it.
All that the sluggard had to do in order to begin fixing his field was pull one weed. Likely, he had several hundred if not thousands to pull, but the rebuilding process would have started with one simple action. He needed to grab a weed and give a good yank! His property was overtaken by the neglect of simple daily chores. Most of the time, we are tempted to believe our problems could only be fixed by some heroic effort of epoch proportions. In reality, we likely just need to go stick our hands in the dirt and pull some weeds for a few hours. Do the hard labor. Invest in the gritty thing that you have been putting off. Setting a timer on your phone to lock down the Facebook app after so much usage may seem small, but it is an action which shall get some dirt under your fingernails and start the improvement. Small, daily actions over time remove the weeds and transform a broken-down property into a beautiful estate. Take drastic actions when necessary, absolutely, but also understand the fact most of the time we simply need small, daily changes.
Finally, learn to work while the day is young. The issue with the sluggard is that he is addicted to sleeping and folding his hands. He does not want to labor, only to sit on the sidelines and perhaps curl up in his bed for the day. Our lives are to be spent productively for God’s glory working each day for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). Make a list of points that need to be done so the wall does not collapse. Then, don’t wait till harvest time to prepare the field, do it in advance lest you be found with nothing. Enjoy work to the glory of God and yes plan for some rest as well knowing that you are a limited human being. Manage your affairs wisely and build back the field of your life one weed pull and one stone fix at a time!