Proverbs 24:30-34Amplified Bible
I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man lacking understanding and common sense;
And, behold, it was all overgrown with thorns,
And nettles were covering its surface,
And its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw, I considered it well;
I looked and received instruction.
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest [and daydream],”
Then your poverty will come as a robber,
And your want like an armed man.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
We have idleness portrayed before us by the master sage, Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived (1 Kings 3:12).
The true to life picture is of negligence and the consequences it brings.
To the observant eye, the results of an idle man’s life gave the by-passer a lecture on the virtue of diligence.
Noting carefully the slothful man and his field can teach us how to avoid more than poverty.
Learning diligence from the depicted wall and vineyard’s condition is not the only lesson offered here for the far greater concern is the condition of a soul whose owner has neglected to cultivate and tend it.
Definition of couch potato
: a lazy and inactive person
especially: one who spends a great deal of time watching television.
The lazy man conceives himself as being as wise or wiser than other men, but, is his feeling correct or is he under strange delusion? If we will just get our heart right before God we can learn to observe and learn from the conditions of life. For lessons stand before the learner if he will just take in what life shows him.
The man here is called a sluggard or lazy [used 14 times in Proverbs] and is also said to lack sense (6:32; 10:13) though I am reasonably sure he would be in hostile disagreement with that assessment.
He is called that because of his flagrant neglect of his own interests.
Unlike the situations of millions who have not a single square yard of green sod to call their own, this man had a little estate.
He had a field and vineyard which he could cultivate to gain his bread. But let us see what advantage he gained from what he possessed.
Threefold evidence of lethargy is detailed in verse 31. “And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.”
Verse 31 tells us what three things the observer’s vision fixed upon- beheld.
1. A field completely overgrown with thistles,
2. The field’s surface was covered with nettles (or weeds),
3. And the stone wall was broken down.
Synonyms for couch potato
- lay about,
Being a “couch potato.”
This colorful term has become a standard description of the lifestyle of millions of people, as they sit around idly and lazily and let others entertain them.
According to legend, this term was invented somewhat spontaneously during a telephone conversation in 1976 by a man who opposed exercise and a healthy diet. Instead, he wanted to vegetate in front of the television and eat junk food.
This may have been a humorous comment, but the impact of this habit has been serious, leading to poorer general health and greater obesity.
Nonetheless, television viewing continues to reach record levels.
On average, Americans spend more than 34 hours per week watching television (plus almost five hours more each week watching video on the Internet on a computer).
Many more hours are spent watching on smart phone, tablets, or other devices.
(2022 data) Almost half (46%) of Americans believe they spend an average of 4 to 5 hours on their smartphones each day.
On the extreme end of the spectrum, 11% claim to spend 7+ hours on their phones each day.
And just 1 in 20 (5%) Americans stated they use their phones less than 1 hour per day.
Those folks who are gaming are doing so more than ever.
Likely as a result of the pandemic, time spent gaming jumped from an average of 12.7 hours per week in 2019 to 14.8 hours per week in 2020.
Even as restrictions were lifted and society headed back out into the world we still call “a job” “a good day’s work”, the growth continues.
Respondents now report spending an average of 16.5 hours per week with their video games on their phones and on their game systems this year.
While it’s no surprise that younger age groups like Gen Z enjoy video games, older adults are spending more time gaming, with most choosing to play games on their smartphones.
Last year, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) revealed that older consumers (ages 55-64) accounted for 9% of online gamers, and The NDP Group shared that adults ages 45-54 spent 59% more time and 76% more dollars with gaming than they had the previous year.
Per this recent data, three-quarters of adults ages 44-64 played video games for about 16 hours per week this year.
This is a dramatic increase from the 69% who played approximately 12 hours per week in 2020 and the 65% who played for approximately 9 hours per week in 2019.
How many times in life do you just walk right on by, wrapped up, locked into your own life?
Only interested in what you are doing in that exact and exacting moment or what you are going to do in the next hour or next day, and you don’t behold.
The lesson is there but you must “see it”, you must “behold it” you must “observe it” and dare to take possession of the sights that pass before you.
BEHOLDING IS MORE THAN SEEING, 32.
All this abandonment is an object lesson that could be pondered carefully
we learn in verse 32. “When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.
Notice the initial clause in the verse; “When I saw.”
The seeing he is speaking of here is not just a looking around to keep himself from running into another object or person.
He is not just looking for a conversation topic. He is beholding an entire setting.
He gazes with the crystal-clear intention of retaining in his mind what his physical eyes saw, for the purpose of self-reflection and learning from it.
The diligent observer can reap and carry off the only harvest that this field was yielding, which is a warning and a lesson. The owner received nothing from it, but the on-looker reflected upon it that he might harvest a crop of instruction.
The sage said, “I reflected upon it.”
Literally the phrase is, “I set my heart.”
The heart is the inner being of man.
It is the seat of his mind, will, disposition [-attitude], and emotions.
In this context it means an inner positioning of the will.
A resolution to diligently find the meaning of what has been beheld.
Previously in verse 30 Solomon stated his immediate determinations. It was the field of a sluggard. Further defined as the “Vineyard of a man lacking sense.”
Solomon now sets his will to learn more from this man who is obviously doing something wrong. He views the negative aspects of the man in order to obtain something tangibly positive. He observes man’s responsibility to his work.
How often do we look only at the SUCCESS STORIES?
We look at those whose businesses started with a little profit and ended up wealthy.
You study those who started at low positions of work and ended up in places of large responsibility.
This perspective is not bad in and of itself, but when you view those successes to the exclusion of the failures you surely miss many learning opportunities.
You not only need to know what works but what does not work and why. But to learn from any situation you must intentionally reflect or contemplate upon it.
Yet reflection is not all you need to do, because verse 32 continues saying, “I looked.” The writer has previously stated that he not only saw but he retained what he saw and was seeking to learn more from the information.
Thus, we know Solomon is meaning something deeper than sensory vision.
Solomon had the picture in his mind, and he was delving into and sorting through the myriad of possibilities of this situation.
Solomon was looking at what he saw so that it could be opened wider to him.
He persisted, expecting to learn from what he had realized of this lazy man’s calamity.
The wall that marked the boundaries, that surrounded the man’s personal possession was crumbling.
There was no wall around the vineyard to defend the fruit and no fruit within the vineyard to be defended.
The owner did nothing for his property and his property did nothing for him.
The growth of fruitless weeds was only the result of the unkept property.
This is the sad result of every life where rigor and continuous striving has not been exercised.
It is the virtue of hard work which tells in the long run, and without which the most brilliant talents will have little result.
However, gifted a man may be, he will be a failure if he has not learned the great secret of dogged persistence and determination working often unwelcome toil.
No character worth building up is built without continuous effort.
If a man does not labor to be good, he will surely become bad.
It is an old axiom that no man attains superlative wickedness all at once, and most certainly no man leaps to the height of the goodness possible to his nature by one spring.
He has to laboriously step by step, climb the hill. Progress in moral character is secured only by continued walking upwards, not by an occasional jump or two.
There is also a spiritual truth that needs to be taught right here.
Jesus taught a parable about the field, the soil, and the character of a man.
He said some men’s lives are full of thorns that spring up and choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful.
Our character or our soil [or soul] starts out with faculties and potential abilities and capacities and it is our responsibility -and in our definite best interest- to diligently develop them, to cultivate them. But unlike the soil of the ground which may be cultivated by proxy, your soil can only be cultivated by yourself.
If a neglected field is a disaster, what is a neglected soul?
1 Corinthians 4:6-7Amplified Bible
6 Now I have applied these things [that is, the analogies about factions] to myself and Apollos for your benefit, believers, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written [in Scripture], so that none of you will become arrogant and boast in favor of one [minister or teacher] against the other. 7 For who regards you as superior or what sets you apart as special? What do you have that you did not receive [from another]? And if in fact you received it [from God or someone else], why do you boast as if you had not received it [but had gained it by yourself]?
A soul which instead of its being cultivated with the seeds of grace, the water of the Spirit is sadly left to its own native barrenness, its own dried divisiveness, becomes untillable and overgrown with the characteristics of the old nature.
Time, talents and opportunities are there but they have not been used in a diligent, in a worthwhile, in a wise way.
And a soul instead of waving with golden grain and being a scene of fruitfulness and goodness and true compassion (John 13:34-35) becomes an ugly, unsightly slum, unprotected and open to every intruder with the notion to cause trouble.
Ruin comes not by cultivation but by neglect.
Heaven seeks to promote your good growth, but we neglect our most prized possession, our eternal soul.
It is so decisively and definitively not safe to let any of the fortifications of the Christian life fall into even minimal disrepair, but they are to be attended to with strength, vigilance for the Roaring Lion is looking for a way in to devour.
If we neglect our times in Bible reading and prayer and in worship, Word and fellowship with our Savior our relationship with Him will deteriorate and we will no longer experience His blessings and fruitfulness. We need to establish priorities that honor God. Only then we’ll we avoid the neglect that leads to loss.
Solomon had the capacity to look deeply into the events of life so that he could apply the results of his understanding to his life and rule, in order that he would have a larger foundation to build upon with his increased understanding. As he applied wisdom, He gained greater and deeper understanding. If we learn from Solomon, we will realize that what you perceive should alter (change) your life.
The most valuable field and vineyard a person possesses is his eternal soul. May we too behold, truly perceive, receive instructions that motivates, leads to life.
Antonyms to “Couch Potato”
- highly motivated
- highly driven
- “Perpetual Motion”
- “Adrenaline Junkies”
- “Movers and Shakers”
At the same time, many Christians still become spiritual “couch potatoes.”
Sitting on the sidelines, they want to watch and let others do the work of God’s Kingdom.
They forget that God has called each of us and given us all a role to play.
I’ve heard it said that many people in our churches are mere “pew warmers.”
In other words, they do believe in the importance of being present in the House of God when the doors are open, but they will rarely be seen taking an active role in areas of service, such as helping in a Sunday School class, Bible Study, the Prayer Ministry team, nursery, the choir, junior church, the kitchen, visitations.
BUT… did you know that sometimes we Christians can still be “couch potatoes” spiritually even though we may already be busy at church?
It’s great that we’re praying for God to direct our path and lead us, yet we may still sit like a lump on the log for ages instead of taking action in a time of crisis.
What hinders us from taking action?
I suggest there are at least Five common reasons we will fail to take action…
- We FEAR having sufficient ability to do what God is leading us to do. (Remember, Moses was afraid to approach Pharaoh to speak because of his being slow to speech, which may have been a stuttering issue.)
- We’re AFRAID to leave our comfort zones. Where do we begin? We end up sitting motionless so long that we’re quite content just sitting on our couch.
- We FEAR that we’ll lack time, energy and financial and spiritual resources.
- We FEAR that the obstacles God reveals are too great for us to overcome.
- We become “TIRED” SELFISH and LAZY. We’d rather “slumber” than work.
It’s hard to get motivated after a while.
We soon forget about the urgency of taking action.
Paul wrote that ministry depends on each person doing their part, fulfilling their God-given assignment.
Today, PRAY! ask yourself if you are being or becoming a spiritual coach potato.
What are you doing with the time, talent, and treasure that God has given to you? Are you wisely, prudently, investing your “resources” in His Kingdom?
Don’t sit idly by and assume that others will do the work.
God has given each of us a heart and a soul.
God has given us two eyes to see with.
God has given us two ears to hear with.
God has given us two hands and two feet to serve with.
God has given you and I all His resources, His time, and His opportunities.
Do your part.
Get involved in sharing the Gospel.
And give of your resources as God gave His, so that the Lost might be reached.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.