Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.”
In this verse we find a clear separation between being righteous and being slothful. The two are as oil and water, they cannot be mixed. One may be able to hide their slothfulness for a time, but inevitably the oil with rise above the water and show the contamination. Why is slothfulness the enemy of righteousness? Because Christ taught that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. Someone who loves God supremely is not slothful about the Father’s business. Slothfulness denotes a lack of righteous zeal, affection and submission towards God in a saint’s heart.
Certainly, slothfulness can cause spiritual harm to others, especially those that we are commissioned to take the gospel to. However, we also know that God will not use an unfaithful servant and in the Lord’s mercy he may send forth a faithful servant in their place. This is not an excuse for slothfulness, for the slothful are disobeying the Will of God, but rather a note on the divine grace that God shows in towards man. So, returning to the harm a slothful man causes, in practice the vast majority of the hurt that the slothful cause is directed at themselves. The reference to thorns in the verse makes it plain that there is a self-impeding aspect to being slothful.
Thus, one can update the analogy as substitute razor wire in the place of thorns. Razor wire can be crossed, but it is labor intensive and rife with opportunities to cause serious injury to the one attempting to circumvent it. You may not suffer damage to any limbs, but you are most assuredly going to shred your clothing and you must be resigned to lose whatever item you laid atop the razors to shield you from harm. The unnecessary struggles that are brought about by being slothful can be separated into two separate causes.
The first cause of trouble has to do with God’s perfect timing. The slothful are reluctant to engage in their spiritual calling for the Lord. They must either work themselves into a state of compliance or be dragged by another to their post for the Lord. The psalmist understood the value of handling the things of God with all earnest when they wrote, “early will I seek thee.” The diligent and enthusiastic saint seeks God’s direction first thing in the morning as to not miss the opportunities that God has arranged in His infinite knowledge. The slothful may arrive too late and find the path that God had cleared beset with all of manner of ensnaring thorns. Those who have given themselves wholly to the Lord are excited to be used of the Almighty and are subject to His timetable while the slothful will stipulate when they are available to God and as a result make their tasks far more cumbersome by missing the will of God.
The second cause of slothful hindrance is related to the mindset of the slothful. When your heart, mind and soul are not completely surrendered to God, your flesh is not properly reigned-in. Thus, while you may try, belatedly, to undertake obedience to God, your perspective is carnal. The entire tasks will be elongated and cumbersome because your flesh is slowing your progress by pointing out all the excuses and inconveniences that you pass along the way. Actually, in all truth, most slothful saints give into these lusts of the eyes and of the flesh and allow those razors to keep them from completing the will of God. The slothful do not see all that God can use them for, instead focusing on all the carnal things they are “missing out on.”
Have you ever noticed that those on fire for God seem to have the thorns of their path removed by God? Their path is no easier to trod than yours, their cross no lighter and their task any simpler. Their path is made plain in their hearts. They see two options: follow God or reject God. The slothful have excuses and rationalizations to appease their conscience, but their path is surely convoluted to their eyes. Those that are persistently good stewards of those things that God has entrusted to them, find that life is simpler. The world is black and white, without encumbrance, and they have purposed to walk in the light as Christ is in the light. Unfortunately, too many slothful saints never come to the understanding that they are their own biggest problem. Satan has no need to throw out snares before the slothful for their flesh will surely snare them in their own razor wire.
Your fellowservant in Christ,
Bro. Jordan Foster