I passed by the field of the sluggard
Proverbs 24:23-34 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
25 But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
26 He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.
27 Prepare your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.
28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”
30 I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31 And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, and received instruction.
33 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34 Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.
Even if you are not a believer, it is hard to argue with the simple wisdom and logic of Proverbs. Today’s text says: These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good. We should not show partiality in judgment, we will be judged as we judge. The world calls it karma, or says what goes around comes around. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” James 2:1-4 says: My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? There is a great deal of attention today in our culture and society paid to the inequality of our justice system. The answer to equality though is not to overcompensate, it is to treat everyone equally. Leviticus 19:15 says: You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. Justice is not achieved by giving preference to either side, but by judging fairly. The text says: He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them. Justice is not achieved by calling what is wicked good; by honoring and celebrating what is evil. In Isaiah 5:20 God says: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! We cannot right injustice by redefining what is evil or wrong. Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. If we want to end injustice in our society and culture, we should begin by encouraging everyone to do what is good. Romans 13:1-4 says: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. We cannot right injustice by abolishing law and order, but rather we begin by abiding by it.
The text says: Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, And do not deceive with your lips. Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” In our culture and society, it might not be that people rise up as witnesses without cause, but surely in many instances the cause is not truth or what is right. Many become witnesses against others for their own cause. Deception can be different than outright lying. You can deceive by telling partial truths and by distorting the truth. You can deceive by taking words out of context. You can deceive with facts and statistics by choosing only those that support your cause or agenda. These deceptions are rampant in nearly every aspect of our society and culture today. Individuals and entities deceive to support and further their own causes. Truth supports no cause, but rather should be the foundation of every human cause.
The text says: I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man. Rather than viewing and applying this principle strictly in natural terms, let’s also recognize that it applies to spiritual things as well. In our society and culture, those who stand for righteousness have become sluggish and apathetic. We have allowed those who lack sense to control the direction of our cultural morals and attitudes. We see then that our culture is in a state of moral poverty. Because we have rested our schools, our neighborhoods; our nation has become overgrown with immorality and lawlessness. We have been silent while those who call evil good and good evil have taken charge of our society. The only way that we should fold our hands is to fold them in prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Praying though is not the only thing we should do; it is the first thing we should do. In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Along with praying we need to do what is right. We need to be like salt, preserving righteousness and morality in our culture and society. We need to be light in the darkness, not hiding behind the walls of our churches or prayer closets, but shining in the darkness of our schools, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and our nation.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the wisdom and logic of Your word. Thank You that it not only stands with truth, but that it is truth. Because You have redeemed and restored me through the cross, may I walk in the light and the power of the Holy Spirit and may You be glorified and our land be healed. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.