Day 15: Laziness
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
Consider her ways, and be wise.
The first week after bringing home a newborn is always difficult. For one of our boys, my wife woke up every two hours to nurse and woke me up as well to share in her misery. My job was to lift our son from the bassinet, hand him to my wife, then fall asleep until it was time to replace our bundle of joy. (I’m convinced that caring for a newborn is a kind of sleep torture to condition parents for the rigors of childrearing.) After just a few of those evening exercises, I became so disoriented when my wife woke me that I would have to ask, “Coming or going?” Thankfully, after the first couple weeks, my wife realized that I was not an essential cog in the late-night feedings. (I had figured that out much earlier, but was wise enough not to verbalize it.) I slept so soundly during that first night of uninterrupted bliss that I asked her the next morning, “Oh, did he sleep through the night?” My wife was not at all amused.
The sluggard is also a heavy sleeper who turns on his bed “as a door turns on its hinges” (Prov. 26:14). Yet dads, the hard work of parenting is not for the lazy. Those first weeks (or months) of late-night feedings are nothing in comparison to the rest of your child’s life. God has called you to labor for your child in earnest prayer, loving discipline, wise instruction, joyful relationship, and quality time. Every day, you are called to shepherd your child whether you feel like it or not. You can’t return him to the store, get your money back, or take a day off.
My boys love to recite Proverbs 6:6 with gusto: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” The tiny ant is, first of all, self-disciplined: “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler” (v. 7). She is tireless without a taskmaster—ambitious without an administrator. Likewise, dads, are you disciplined? Do you start your tasks immediately or do you delay because of perceived obstacles? Are you reading your Bible, praying faithfully, and leading your family to follow Christ? Unlike the ant, the sluggard thinks only of self. He is the husband who peels his rear end from the couch only when his wife explodes. He might be selectively lazy—busy at work and sluggard at home. Dads, do not wait for someone else to tell you what to do. Instead, serve the Lord with ant-like self-discipline.
Secondly, the ant provides for the future: “She prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (v. 8), for she knows that indolence today means starvation tomorrow. She does not squander summer, for winter soon approaches (see 30:25). Men, when you pursued marriage, you found a job to provide for your wife. You started saving for more than just your personal needs and learned how to give generously to others. You worked hard at your job “to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31b) and to provide for your family’s future.
The third lesson the ant teaches is to be wisely industrious. Is your work motivated by selfish pride, the tyranny of the urgent, or the love of pleasure? Perhaps you view work so you can rest, yet the Bible instructs you to rest so you can work (Exod. 20:8-10). Work has dignity as ordained by God before the Fall (Gen. 2:15). It is good and noble, reflecting God’s glory (Col. 3:23-24). Work has been hard ever since the Fall (Gen. 3:17-19), yet this should lead you to depend even more on God.
Solomon then continues: “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest” (Prov. 6:9-10). The question, “How long?” indicates lengthy indolence, for the sluggard moves like syrup in the freezer—slow as molasses. How long will you be “looking” for work? How long will you fill your evenings with meaningless activity? How long will you remain a nominal churchgoer without intentionally making disciples? How long, O sluggard, will you be set in your ways? The repetition demands an answer so as to wake him from his lethargy.
Sadly, the sluggard creeps in each of us. He falls asleep at home, paralyzed by inactivity. His hands are idle or glued to the iPhone. Do not be the sluggard or “poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (v. 11; see 24:30-34).
I love my boys and desire each of them to grow in wisdom, learn God’s Word, and follow after Christ. I pray they find a job, pursue a wife, and eventually own a place to call home. I don’t want them waking up on my couch one day, realizing they have wasted the precious life God gave them. Dads, teach your children to be diligent today or they will reap the sluggard’s consequences.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Teach me to work hard at the task of fatherhood. Give me delight in the work and joy in the harvest. Grant me a vision of godly children ministering to others and working hard to exalt your glory. Then remove the sluggard both in me and in my children. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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