The same man who brought us little flies last month (Solomon, that is), also wrote about little foxes (S of S 2:15) and a little folding of the hands (Prov 24:33). Solomon was not too great a man to be impressed by the importance of little things. We as well, should take heed.
The slothful or lazy man of Proverbs is treated at one time with humor, at times with irony, and at other times with criticism. All seem to be combined in Proverbs 24:30-34.
A Lesson Learned: “I saw … considered it … looked upon it … received instruction’” is the progression. As Solomon looked on the wasted and unproductive field, once full of promise, but now full of weeds, he learned a vital lesson.
A Lack Noted: What was missing was the labor needed to keep the field and to produce something for the owner. No one had taken time to cultivate the field. In place of productive plantings, there were thorns and nettles. They arose naturally without anyone’s effort. Weeds require no cultivation, feeding, or moisture. They adapt to the conditions and grow rapidly.
A Limit Missing: The fence, so necessary to demarcate the field and set it apart, was broken down. There was no boundary to this field. Quickly, what was outside the field got into the field. Now, there was little to distinguish inside from outside, other than the remnants of what once was. All the potential which an owner had for his field, all the hopes he entertained as he procured it, are now dashed against the reality of the indolence of the slothful man.
Every field needs fences – something to protect it from the encroachment of all that is outside that wall. Fences must have gates to allow in those who belong and to permit the fruit of the field to be admired and reaped, but fences are still imperative.
A Laxity Blamed: What was the root cause of all this? Total neglect or intentional abuse? No. It was a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands. You can almost hear the slothful man as his excuses rise to meet the challenge of his condemning conscience. He intends to get to it but he needs a little rest. He is a great believer in “coming apart and resting a while.”
A Loss Experienced: The end result of this neglected field is inevitable loss and poverty!
Not all of us are dealing with fields and farms. Yet each of us has a personal field, purchased by precious blood – the field of a life, whose purpose is to yield fruit for God’s pleasure (John 15). As well, each assembly is likened to a field, God’s husbandry (1 Cor 3:9). Neglect, even against the background of good intentions, will lead to spiritual poverty and assembly weakness. As to our personal lives, we learn the need for discipline and diligence if we are to be fruitful and Christ-like.
The danger of the current “service-oriented mentality,” which pays others to do what we used to do ourselves (we are so busy making money to buy more time-saving gadgets so we can do more in less time), is that we expect others to do what each should be doing: gospel work, Sunday School work, Bible study, and all that is vital to assembly preservation.