17 May 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“ Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”
(Proverbs 6:6-11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he referred to an idle mind as the ‘workshop of the Devil.’ A mind that is left vacant of virtue is left to roam the streets and back alleys of every repugnant sin or vice. Of course, the mind is the seat of all thought and action. Whatsoever it values, it seeks to satisfy. If the mind is not set on the things of Christ, it will surely be devoted to the things of darkness. The hands, too, will be idle that respond to the condition of an idle mind. Only ruin can follow in the tracks of an idler. He is, in fact, not nearly equal in worth to the common pismire that labors constantly to provide for the coming winter months, and it does so without constant supervision to scold it onward.
During the colonial period, bees were transported to Barbados and the western islands. But these bees only produced honey for the first year. Thereafter, they ceased to produce honey owing to the abundance of all manner of sweet fruit and a tropical climate. Instead, they busied themselves flying about the sugar houses and stinging the field hands. In our modern day, we have many people who are just like those bees. Since they are not compelled to labor, they become not only idle, but vicious toward their fellows.
In reality, there is no such thing as a vacant mind – it will always be occupied by virtuous thoughts or evil imaginations – and to the mediocre soul, both may exist together.
Here is /Webster’s definition of a sluggard referred to in our introductory text:
“From Middle English slogarde, probably ultimately of Old Norse origin. Equivalent to slug + -ard (“pejorative agent suffix”). Noun . sluggard (plural sluggards) A person who is lazy, stupid, or idle by habit. A person slow to begin necessary work, a slothful person. A fearful or cowardly person, a poltroon.”
So a sluggard is very much like a snail or slug. A slug only operates during the darkness of night to eat upon the labors of the gardener’s produce – a product for which he has not labored. At the first glimpse of light on the eastern horizon, the slug seeks the shelter of a rock under which to hide. He cannot tolerate the light of the sun. Neither can the sinner (or politicians) stand the light that reveals their dastardly deeds. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
Not only can the slug (or sluggard) tolerate the open light on their sins, neither can they abide salt. The righteous are just the opposite – they represent both light and salt. Our Lord tells us in Matthew 5:13-14 that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both are detrimental to the slug. “As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.” (Psalms 58:8)
My good friend, the Rev Hap Arnold, is quite adamant concerning the necessity of putting our faith to work and not simply demonstrated in empty words. Though we are not saved by good works, we certainly are saved “unto good works.” Our lives of righteous labor are evidence of our salvation and faith. This principle holds true, not only for the devoted disciple of laity, but also for the ministers who bear a heavy responsibility to labor in preaching. Beware, ye ministers, of the admonition given in Ezekiel – “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” (Ezekiel 33:7-8)
Few pulpit dandies of our day can measure up to that declaration. The same holds true for the layperson. Do you measure up to be a watchman at the waters of God as was the Three-Hundred of Gideon’s little army?