Proverbs 10:26

As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.


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Employers often say to each other, “It is hard to get good help these days,” complaining about the lack of fast, hard-working employees. If this proverb were taught in school instead of liberal arts and entertainment, there might be many more diligent employees.

What is a sluggard? Let The Oxford English Dictionary give the sense of this word.

Sluggard. One who is naturally or habitually slow, lazy, or idle; one who is disinclined for work or exertion; a slothful or indolent person.

A sluggard is a slow and lazy person. Instead of being energetic, fast, and diligent, they dawdle through life in first or second gear without a godly sense of urgency. Paul knew the Cretians were this way, so he told Titus to rebuke the “slow bellies” (Titus 1:12-13).

Dear reader, how do you approach your day’s duties? As a high-energy, fast-working, diligent worker? Or are you an, “I’m-here-ain’t-I,” or an, “I-need-to-pace-myself,” loser? There is not any work in the grave, and you will miss it, so get diligent now (Eccl 9:10).

Sluggards do not have a sense of urgency (Pr 6:6); they love to sleep (Pr 6:9-11); sluggards want more without the effort to get it (Pr 13:4); they are defeated by minor hindrances (Pr 20:4); and the sluggard always has reasons to excuse himself (Pr 26:16).

Employers cringe to see employees standing around, walking slowly, talking instead of working, pacing themselves through a job, avoiding the next task, taking another break, and other sluggardly sins. As vinegar causes teeth to ache and smoke causes eyes to burn, so a sluggard irritates and hurts his employer, or anyone else counting on him.

Who is relying on you today? An employer? Parents? A husband? A family? The Lord? Success and praise are as easy as keeping vinegar and smoke away from them. Get out of bed, attack your duties, and keep moving (Pr 10:4; 12:24; 22:29; I Kings 11:28).

Even ungodly men will reward the diligent. So get busy, now! Success for a Christian young man in this world is simple: work hard; work fast; finish the job. And take note, the virtuous woman is more a hard worker than anything else (Pr 31:10-31).

The Lord Jesus Christ was no sluggard. He knew His time to work was short, so He applied Himself diligently (John 9:4). He always pleased His Father (John 8:29), finished every assignment (Jn 4:34), was extremely zealous (Jn 2:17), focused on the hard assignment in Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), and despised the painful shame of it (Heb 12:2). Do everything in your life as unto Him, and follow His perfect example of faithful diligence.