While in the attic, he finds an old jacket of his. He puts it on, reaches into the pocket, and pulls out a stub. It's a receipt from a shoe repair shop. He realizes he had taken a pair of shoes there twenty years ago, and in the midst of the move, he had never picked them up. On a whim he decides to go to the shoe repair shop.
Just to be funny, he takes the receipt out and hands it to the guy behind the desk, saying, "Are my shoes ready?" The guy goes back to the workroom for a minute, comes back to the counter, and says, "Come back a week from Thursday."
My apologies to shoe repair personnel everywhere; but this well-known story is most often related with the intent of illustrating a lack of diligence. In fact, once, having first told this story, Dr. John Ortberg then observed, “That's the mind of the sluggard; they're always saying, ‘A week from Thursday.’”
The Bible also has much to say about sluggards. Wise old King Solomon, especially, gives us their characteristics.
“I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.” (Proverbs 24:30-31)
“A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” (Proverbs 12:27)
“The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, but will not even bring it back to his mouth.” (Proverbs 19:24)
“As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed.” (Proverbs 26:14)”
And the funny thing about slothfulness is this: the more we practice it, the more we rationalize it. Solomon was well aware of this fact as well. He obviously witnessed this process first-hand.
The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!’" (Proverbs 22:13)
And similarly, in Proverbs 26:13:
“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square!’"
And there's obviously no sense in arguing with a lazy person either. For...
“The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer.” (Proverbs 26:16)
More significant than these things, however, the Bible presents us with multiple consequences of such a lifestyle.
“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing. (Proverbs 20:4)
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4)
“The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.” (Proverbs 15:19)
“The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24)
“Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger.” (Proverbs 19:15)
“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)
Even worse, Proverbs 21:25 tells us that:
“The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work; All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back.” (Proverbs 21:25-26)
Hence the following fairly famous admonitions from God’s word:
“How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9)
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11)
“Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food. “ (Proverbs 20:13)
Wow! That’s a lot of admonition in one single Biblical book on a single subject. And yet, how relevant all of this admonition is. I have been reminded of these things recently in the actions of my precious wife.
She has apparently had enough of being cooped up over the winter. Spring fever boiled has over in her; and as a result of the recent warm weather snap, she has exploded in a flurry of activity.
To wit, the Jackson house has now been thoroughly cleaned! (And I mean deeply cleaned!) The closets and wardrobes have all been changed out. She has also rearranged and redecorated several rooms. And even now, she is turning her attention to the outside.
For my part, as soon as I realized what was unfolding, I did the only logical thing I could do. I immediately ran and hid – in the garage, in the basement, at the office, anywhere it was reasonably safe! I went out of my way to avoid being contaminated by this sudden contagion of spring fever. But alas, I could only hide for so long. Soon enough, I too became infected.
As a result, I too found myself becoming more industrious with each passing day, eventually even to the point of fever pitch. The more I got into, the more I found to do. And the more I did, the more I wanted to do. And the more I finished, the better I felt. Especially at the end of the day did I feel that way, as I would put my head on the pillow with a sense of satisfaction over my new found industriousness and its resultant level of achievement.
I then got to wondering if that sweet feeling of accomplishment that I was currently sensing could be sustained. And I realized that this was entirely up to me. When I arose on the next day, I could either plan to hit the proverbial floor with my feet running and attack my “to do” list, or as Solomon says, I could simply roll over, fold my hands, and return to sleep.
Either approach was entirely within my purview. And either would produce results. I would just have to be prepared to live with the consequences, whichever way I chose to go.
Leonardo da Vinci once said “Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings a blessed death.” For my part, I want to come to the end of my days with that sense of satisfaction that only comes from knowing one has spent his or her time on earth in a well-employed manner.
And while, when that day comes, I do not necessarily want to know that I will have lived my life in poverty; this is not he real reason I want that feeling. Rather, I can only hope that the diligence I will have displayed along the way in life will have brought glory and honor to God in the process.
JOKE SOURCE: Available widely in differing versions on the internet. See, for instance, http://www.cybersalt.org/clean-jokes/lazy-cobbler.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Sluggards.