Proverbs 24:30-31

Avoid Sluggardly Habits

I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. Proverbs 24:30–31 (NIV 1984)

Nothing attractive about slugs as far as I’m concerned. These spineless, shell-less creatures can decimate a root crop, seedlings, or buried seeds. Because slugs prefer to live underground, they’re harder to control than many other garden pests.[1] Plus, they travel on a ribbon of their own mucus. Yuck.

Several centuries before the name slug identified a member of the animal kingdom, the word sluggard referred to a “habitually lazy” person.[2] In Proverbs, a sluggard isn’t just a physically inactive individual but also an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual couch potato. The Hebrew word implies neglect, which is manifested in laxity and languor.[3]

A sluggard lacks judgment (24:30), which generates additional problems: irrational fears (22:13), arrogance (26:16), and stinginess (21:5–6). Because sluggards don’t provide for themselves, they’re unable to give to others. They’re self-absorbed and self-deceived, which leads to self-destruction.

In Proverbs 24, the writer observes the sluggard’s ruined field, then cautions himself against “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands” (v. 33). For me, heeding this advice isn’t only a matter of staying busy; it also involves the pursuit of what honors God. To what am I devoting my time—serving others or serving myself? Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit or indulging in unhealthy habits?

I also need to continually evaluate the condition of my fields—my mind, body, emotions, and spirit. What weeds and thorns are growing up? What walls of protection need repair?

Avoiding sluggardly habits and all the problems that arise from them is a full-time job for me. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit lives within me. He’s ready not only to highlight areas of improvement but also to guide me toward wise living.

What’s the condition of your fields? People walk past you every day. Do they see the fruit of the Spirit flourishing, or have you allowed weeds of ill-used time and thorns of sinful behaviors to grow up?

Dig Deeper

Read Proverbs 6:6–11. What is the writer highlighting about ants? How would you describe the difference between ants and sluggards?

Read Ephesians 4:11–16. What are “works of service” according to this passage, and how do they help everyone in the body of Christ to live wisely?

Read 1 Timothy 5:3–16. Even though Paul is speaking specifically about widows, in what ways does this counsel about godly living apply to all of us?

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of a series on the book of Proverbs.


[1] “Snails, Slugs,” Pacific Northwest  Nursery IPM, oregonstate.edu, accessed 22 February 2019, http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nurspest/slugs.htm.

[2] “Sluggard,” Online Etymology Dictionary, etymonline.com, accessed 19 February 2019, https://www.etymonline.com/word/sluggard#etymonline_v_23706; “Slug,” etymonline.com, accessed 19 February 2019, https://www.etymonline.com/word/slug.

[3] “H6101 – `atsal – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 19 Feb, 2019. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6101&t=KJV.

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