“The sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion outside!
I’ll be killed in the public square!’”
Isn’t this a strange statement? It is a proverb, a saying of the wise, so it must make sense and be helpful. But what does it mean? What do a lion outside and danger in the public square have to do with being a sluggard?
This odd statement by the wise man is, like most comparisons in proverbs, meant to elicit these exact kinds of questions. They force us to stop and think. And think we must on the issue of being afraid to step out in faith to do the hard things our Master Jesus is calling us to do. This warning against the sluggard is not just for those who refuse to be productive members of society; it is also a warning for we who are hesitant to be productive members of God’s kingdom.
If I were to rephrase the proverb, I might say that the sluggard will always find a reason why it’s safer or better to stay home and not get things done – even if it means making one up. For instance, in the proverb, the sluggard reasons that he’d better stay indoors today rather than work in the fields because there’s a dangerous lion out there. Or the sluggard reasons that she’d better not go into town to do business there because it’s so dangerous there – who knows what might happen to her!
On the one hand, the sluggard has a point. The world is full of hazards. Dangers abound, and things can go south in any number of ways as you do what you’re supposed to do in this world. What the wise man is saying without saying, though, is that wise people must not allow the “what ifs” that so easily fill our minds to prevent us from doing the good and meaningful things we’re meant to do. This is true in life as students, workers, and household members – how much more so as citizens of God’s eternal kingdom!
Disciple, there’s no denying that following Jesus in His way of life is fraught with peril and risks. He made that clear all along the way as He taught and ministered. He never hid the fact that following Him might very well mean losing everything – even one’s life. But that’s just the thing: such warnings were meant to separate the true disciples from the posers. Those who obey the Master despite the lions that might be lurking outside or the bandits that might strike in the town square know what it really means to trust Him. Those who obey only when they are guaranteed to be safe from any harm do not trust Him at all. They trust their own instincts or reasoning instead.
Let’s obey our Master as He calls us outside and into the public square, Disciple. He’s handled “lions” before, and He has gone toe to toe with the dangers of “the public square”. He’s reliable, and He’ll be with us each step as we venture out to do His will. Be strong and courageous. You’re never alone, and the work you do for Him is eternally important or He wouldn’t call you to do it!
Trusting Him with you as I step out the door,