The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be slain in the streets!”
I once had a friend that could go to bed at 5:00 in the evening and stay there until I woke him up at 2:00 the next afternoon. This wasn’t a one-time ordeal either; I could go several days without seeing him as long as I wasn’t home during lunch or dinner. He had the most sophisticated sleeping system I have ever seen.
Though he frequently missed classes and seldom knew which day of the week it was, I would stop far short of referring to him as a sluggard. Although the book of Proverbs makes 14 mentions of a sluggard, I can’t imagine that this word is to be taken so lightly that we can apply it anyone who overly enjoys his or her beauty sleep.
While the sluggard has many characteristics that will eventually lead to his or her downfall, I can think of none other that will lead so quickly to death as that mentioned in Proverbs 22:13. Apathy has overtaken our hero and we watch him give up on life without any hint of a fight. He hears the lion outside, but rather than taking the time and effort to come up with a plan, the sluggard simply awaits death, proclaiming, “I shall be slain in the streets!”
At first glance, this Proverb has no meaningful message to me. I feel fairly confident that a lion will never be heard pouncing on my back door. Further more, I rue the day that I would ever invite a lion in for tea, knowing that my fate has already been sealed. I would like to believe that I have more self-preservation within me than that. Nonetheless, as I read over the passage a second and third time, the Lord begins to shed a different light on the subject.
I am reminded of I Peter 5:8 and how Scripture teaches us that the devil, “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We are commanded to resist him and to draw near to God for our strength. The Apostle Paul commands us to put on our full “armor of God” so that we might escape the temptations that Satan throws at us like “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Why is it then, that I continually give into reoccurring sins in my life without a fight? Am I any better off than the sluggard who willingly accepts a gruesome and fatal encounter with the lion because of his apathy? Do I foolishly believe that my own fate will turn out differently than his?
I don’t know what lions are continually roaring outside of your door, but I encourage you to put up a fight. Take confidence in knowing that Jesus Christ is a living part of your identity. He commands us to take courage in His strength. He has overcome the world (John 16:33), and while we may still be present within that world, He promises to never leave us (Matthew 28:20). I beg you to not fall into the trap of the sluggard, “but take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:12).
If God intended you to run from your lions, His armor would protect your back rather than your chest.