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Poor Or Lazy?
Andy Bustanoby
(C) November 12, 2005

   Some of us are old enough to remember President Lyndon B. Johnson's
   Great Society where he was going to stamp out poverty.  After about
   forty-years of a welfare system that funded sluggards and cheats, the
   federal government decided to do something about it.

   But it's still going on.  How about FEMA giving $2000 checks to New
   Orleans residents for emergency help after the hurricanes?  One woman
   spent a $1000 of it on a fancy purse.  I guess that was so she had
   something to carry the other $1000 in.

   Then there were reports of ne'er-do-wells hanging out, boozing and lap
   dancing in the newly opened French Quarter bars--yes, with FEMA money.
   If you don't know what lap dancing is, just use your imagination.

   It seems that our society doesn't know how to differentiate between the
   innocent poor and lazy people.  The Book of Proverbs in the Bible sure
   does make a distinction.  The Hebrew word atsel is variously translated
   "sluggard" and "slothful."  In an excellent little book, Proverbs, by
   Derek Kidner and D. J. Wiseman, (Inter-Varsity Press), there's a no
   nonsense commentary on the sluggard, who may be poor, but poor because
   of his own laziness.

   Kidner says, the sluggard "is more than anchored to his bed: he is
   hinged to it" (26:14).  He is full of preposterous excuses (there is a
   lion outside, or, I will be murdered in the streets).

   He is the victim of his self-imposed helplessness.  He will not begin
   to do anything.  When we ask him, "How long . . . ?" or "When . . . ?,
   we are being too definite for him.  He doesn't know.  All he knows is
   his delicious drowsiness; all he asks is a little respite: "a little .
   . . a little . . . a little."  He doesn't brazenly refuse, but little
   by little his opportunity slips away (6:9-11).

   He will not finish things.  Even if he manages to snare a meal, he's
   too lazy to cook it, and it goes bad on him (12:27).  He's even too
   lazy to feed himself.  This is so outrageous it's repeated twice in the
   Proverbs (19:24; 26:15).   Got any adult children still living at home
   that sound like this?

   The sluggard will not face things.  He rationalizes his laziness and is
   "wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render reason"
   (26:16).  Because easy choices are the only choices he will make, he
   "will not plow by reason of the cold," and as a result, his character
   suffers as much as his business.  This is implied in 15:19 where he is
   seen as fundamentally dishonest, not upright.

   As a result of all of this, he is restless with dissatisfaction (13:4;
   21:25-26).  He feels helpless in a tangle of his affairs, which are
   like a "hedge of thorns" (15:19).  He is useless, expensively and
   exasperatingly so (18:9; 10:26), to any who employ him.

   To his shame, even the ant knows better than to behave like this.  It
   doesn't need an overseer to push it, and it knows when it is time to do
   what must be done (6:6).  Not so with the sluggard.

   He doesn't even learn by experience.  He suddenly wakes up to find that
   poverty has arrived "like a bandit, . . . like an armed man" (6:11).

   Because he has shirked hard work, he gets nothing but lousy jobs, while
   his more energetic friend has risen to more rewarding work (12:24).
   Because of procrastination, his life has become a wasteland (24:30-31).

   Kidner then closes his commentary with this telling statement:

   "Then I beheld, and considered well:  I saw, and received instruction"
   (24:32).  The wise man will learn while there is time.  He knows
   that the sluggard is no freak, but, as often as not, an ordinary
   man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals and too many
   postponements. It has all been as imperceptible, and as pleasant,
   as  falling asleep.

   I think it's pretty clear that lazy can make you poor.

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