In contrast to the sluggard, is the prudent person. The word “prudent” also predominates the book of Proverbs with 10 appearances, contrasted to only two in the rest of the Bible.
“Prudent” means “wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense; careful in regard to one’s own interests or conduct.” It seems that in many ways being prudent is the opposite of — and therefore the desired alternative to — being a sluggard.
Interestingly, half of the mentions of “prudent” specifically reference the male half of the population (“prudent man”), with only one to the female side (“prudent wife” — she is a gift from God). The remaining mentions are directed to all people.
Based on this disparity in gender mentions, one might assume that being prudent is a bigger issue for men than women — but that conclusion might not be prudent! The reality is that most everyone can improve in this area, that is, to be more prudent. Plus, it is easier (albeit shortsighted) to be a sluggard than prudent.
How might one’s prudent behavior honor God?
[Mentions of “prudent” in the Bible.]
The word “sluggard” occurs 14 times in Proverbs, but is nowhere to be found in the other 65 books of the Bible. This is curious.
First, what is a sluggard? A sluggard is “a slothful person; an idler; a person who is habitually indolent [lazy]” Consider then, Proverbs’ 14 mentions of a sluggard:
- How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
- As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.
- The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
- The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
- The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!
- A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.
- The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
- The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!”
- I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
- The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
- As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
- The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
- The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.
It is clear that Solomon does not think much of sluggards, of lazy, idle, slothful people. According to his proverbs, sluggards do not plan or take initiative; they procrastinate and delude themselves about their own wisdom.
While few would consider themselves a sluggard, the preceding sluggardly characteristics are something that most of us struggle with upon occasion.
What steps do you take to avoid acting like a sluggard?
[Mentions of sluggard in the Bible.]