A Proverb for Today — Proverbs 22:13

“The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets” (Proverbs 22:13).

As I read this verse this morning, and decided to write about it today, I decided to wait until after I had gone for my run this morning.  As a result, I spent a lot of time thinking about it while performing the unnatural act of willingly inflicting pain on myself.  This had two unanticipated “benefits”.  First, I can feel smug with false virtue over my efforts of the morning while I write about slothfulness.  Second, I have a feeble excuse if my writing sounds like the confused ramblings of an oxygen-starved brain. 🙂

My kids surely knew I would write about this verse sometime, because they’ve heard it enough times, especially when one of them might be reluctant about disengaging his (or her) carcase from his mattress in the morning.  “STILL in bed?  There’s a lion in the street!  I shall be slain!”  I think it was probably tough growing up with a dad like me, but they seem to have come through it without too many scars.  Somehow.


As I thought over this verse, several things came to mind.  I’m not going to tell you this verse was intended to teach all these things, but simply that thinking about it triggered these thoughts for me.  Maybe some of them will be profitable for you.

  • Lazy people always have an excuse.  Laziness breeds excuse-making.
  • Laziness is a big problem in our society, including among those who are reading this, in all probability.  In fact, someone reading this probably shouldn’t be on the Internet at all at the time.  If this is you, GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and come back when you have taken care of your responsibilities!  “I need to read this” is sometimes roughly equivalent to “there’s a lion out there.”  Read it later after you’ve gone out, chased away the pesky lion, and done what you are supposed to do.
  • Everyone knows that lions don’t hang around the streets too often, but lazy people will use excuses that no one else believes.  Often, they don’t even seem aware that no one else will believe them.  It isn’t always a good idea to tell them this, because we don’t want to educate them on how to be better liars.  Sometimes, the excuses are amazing!  Perhaps a slothful person has more time to think up this stuff.
  • Laziness and fear are often related, and the lazy person may start to believe the excuses they give.  Perhaps sometimes slothfulness breeds fear and sometimes fear breeds slothfulness.  Neither have any place in the life of a believer.
  • People who make excuses have far worse situations in life than anyone else.  Have you ever noticed that?  I mean, how much worse can it get than having a lion lurking outside your house waiting for you?  My life is definitely worse than my neighbour’s — there’s a lion in my street!  (thinking about that one….)  Show me a person who has adopted excuse making as his way of dealing with life, and I’ll show you a person whose molehills have become mountains, whose everyday trials have become enormous traumas, and whose neighbour’s cat has become a lion.
  • Slothfulness has done a lot more damage than lions.
  • If there does happen to be a lion outside, no one is going to believe the sluggard when he reports it.  Lazy people destroy their own credibility.

There have been reports of big cats roaming the Fife countryside for several years, including around Coul Reservoir, where I ran this morning.  Despite that, I was not slain — but I’ll get to work now, before the lion gets me.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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