My childhood memories are dear to me, and I feel blessed to have grown up in the rural Carolinas in the 1960s. The innocent life portrayed by Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, and Barney in the Andy Griffith Show reruns was my childhood.
Like most parents of that time, my parents imparted an honest, hard-working ethic into their children that shaped the man I am today. Forty years after leaving our small family farm near Sapp’s Crossroads in Lancaster, SC, I still feel a longing to plow the soil and plant a garden in the spring. I entertain a yearning to relive simple joys like walking barefoot in a newly plowed field, finding fishing worms, and going fishing in the evening. I remember the reward of planting seeds and knowing I would enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden in a few weeks. I learned that hard work has its rewards!
Proverbs 20:4 introduces us to someone who does not value the reward of hard work. The setting of the proverb is agrarian, and the subject is a personality named Sluggard.
Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard [slothful; sluggish; lazy] will not plow [farm; plow the soil] by reason of the cold [autumn when crops are gathered]; therefore shall he beg [ask; borrow; demand] in harvest, and have nothing.”
A sluggard is a lazy man, always looking for an excuse to escape his responsibility for working and providing for his family. He is a man of many excuses. While his neighbors prepare their gardens during the last vestiges of winter, he complains it is too cold. When it rains, it’s too wet. When the sun is out, it’s too hot! When others harvest the fruit of their labor, he whines he has no food to eat! His waste of opportunity leaves him wanting and his family begging for pity and food.
I am all for feeding the hungry and assisting people experiencing poverty who, through no failure of their own, are facing hard times. However, we live in a nation where nearly 50 million Americans depend on government food stamps\cards; many have no interest in getting a job and working. It is time to apply Paul’s principle regarding the correlation between labor and food:
2 Thessalonians 3:10 – “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
The principle of honesty and hard work has been the character of the church down through the centuries, and parents carry the responsibility of instilling in their children an appreciation for discipline and the reward of labor (2 Timothy 2:6).
Mom and Dad, you have only yourself to blame if you are rearing children who fit the profile of a sluggard—too lazy to get out of bed and work!