Are You the Sluggard or the Ant?
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 17 Jul
Unless you’ve been fortunate to have escaped to some cooler place, you are quite aware most of the nation is well into the midst of summer. With high temperatures, thunderstorms, high humidity and tornado activity popping up every day, perspiration levels are on the rise as motivation to do almost anything physical seems to be in a steep decline.
If my work ethic was a little bit lower and I didn’t care about my job so much, I wouldn’t be running around making sure everything was taken care of. Likewise, if not for an upcoming long distance race, my workouts would probably be cut short or cut out altogether.
The term “Dog Days of Summer” has been familiar to me since I was a kid, but up until recently never took the time to search out what it meant and where it came from.
Generally these “days” refer to July 3rd to August 11th when the summer is “sultry.” The phrase originated in ancient times when the Dog Star, Sirius, was noticed to rise at the same time as the sun during this period.
The World English Dictionary defines it as “a period marked by inactivity.”
Most who know me would testify I rarely just sit still, as I usually have multiple projects going on and things I’m trying to accomplish. “Inactivity” is not on my (current) list of things to do. However, there are those times when it just gets so hot and unbearable where inactivity seems like something to seriously consider.
During a recent devotional, the passage I explored was Proverbs 22:13.
I am amused when a term like “sluggard” is found in the Bible. It makes the Bible seem more real and down to earth for me. As I delved further into this verse, I had to wonder why the term sluggard was used rather than “cautious one,” “coward,” or even “scaredy-cat,” while other Bible translations use, “slothful man,” “slacker,” and “loafer.”
According to Merriam-Webster, the word sluggard means “a habitually lazy person.”
So how does "sluggard" and "lion in the street" pertain to us today, and especially to singles?
Most of us have all had projects or things in our life we have procrastinated on, didn’t want to do or wanted to give up on altogether. Whether it pertained to work, exercise, socializing, dating or life itself, there will be those “dog days.” Sometimes they are caused by illness, absence of sleep, extenuating circumstances or just a lack of motivation. The question is how long we allow ourselves that “period of inactivity.”
There’s a huge difference between the idleness of resting and sluggishness. Proper rest recoups oneself. Sluggishness is (or can be) habitual.
As I continued my search, I was surprised to find "sluggard" used in many other places, all by David in the Proverbs.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6)
David tells us to learn from an ant?!
What does an ant do? He works hard, is able to carry more than its own body weight, and works together for the good of the community (not only being concerned with its own welfare).
How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man (Proverbs 6:9-11).
We’re told to be cautious of our inactivity because it will overcome and soon envelop us.
What is by far the toughest part of a workout routine?
Why? It’s easier to continue not doing it rather than changing your habit, taking the effort and experiencing the discomfort of beginning a new routine or life pattern. This not only goes for exercise, but for everything in life: returning back to school, seeking a new job, dating, facing a conflict, or even studying the Bible.
Getting out of your comfort zone, stretching yourself and doing something out of your norm is difficult, but is the only way to alter your behavior and eventual lifestyle.
As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him (Proverbs 10:26).
I have been in a position where I am able to connect people together for employment opportunities. Oftentimes, I’ll receive calls from those seeking work or those needing to fill a position. I enjoy helping them all out; however, I am cautious of those whom I recommend.
For those who I do, I would hire or work for personally, otherwise I don’t want to jeopardize my reputation by recommending a sluggard or one who doesn’t really want to work or have the integrity which I demand of myself.
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied (Proverbs 13:4).
The sluggard, or one who is a habitually lazy person, wants what everyone else has, but gets nothing, because he doesn’t go out and do what is necessary to achieve it.
Nowadays, we seem to hear more and more people wanting something for nothing. Almost every state in the country has legalized a lottery or some form of gambling, government subsidies are at an all-time high, and cities and counties are going bankrupt as a result.
No matter how much is given or provided to some, it will not change them or what they do (or not do) until they decide for themselves to change their habitual nature.
Looking back upon Proverbs 22:13 (“There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!") the reason for the sluggard’s response is not for self-preservation, but rather it is an excuse for not wanting to go out and do something.
Don’t live your life as a sluggard who always wants (without any desire of making an effort) and makes excuses for what they don’t have, but rather live a life like an ant who works hard, carries his weight, works together for the betterment of all and does what is necessary.
Make your Dog Days of Summer one of activity and transformation!
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on facebook and twitter.
Publication date: July 17, 2014