Proverbs 26:13
The slacker says, "A lion is in the road! A fierce lion roams the public square!"
A Lion in the WayDean Farrar.Proverbs 26:13
Seeing with Our PrejudicesJ. Halsey.Proverbs 26:13
The Slothful ManJames Flint, D. D.Proverbs 26:13
The Vice of IdlenessE. Johnson Proverbs 26:13-16

I. IT IS FULL OF EXCUSES. (Ver. 13.) There is always some pretext for evading duty, however frivolous and absurd, with the idle man. Idleness is the parent of almost every sin; here of cowardice, he who excuses, accuses himself. Every manly act of exertion is imagined to be full of danger by the lazy mind. The sluggard does not see what danger of another and deadlier kind there is in stagnation. Danger is the brave man's opportunity, difficulty the lion in the way, by victory over which he may earn the laurel of victory and gain the joy of new conscious power.

II. IT LOVES REPOSE AND SELF-INDULGENCE. (Ver. 14.) As the door swings perpetually upon its hinges, without moving a step from its fixed position, so with the sluggard. He "turns round and round, with dull stupidity, like the dyer's horse in the ring" (Proverbs 19:24). How often the cannot of the slave of vice or evil habit only disguises the will not of the sloth-eaten heart! To make mere rest our life-object is to contend against the order of God.

III. IT HATES EXERTION. (Ver. 15.) Even the most necessary exertion may become by habit distasteful. To take his hand from his bosom, even merely to reach after the bread of life, is too much labour for him. And thus his life, instead of being a continual feast, sinks into spiritual indigence and starvation.

"The idle soul shall suffer hunger."

IV. IT BREEDS CONCEIT AND FOLLY. (Ver. 16.) This is the strange irony of the vice, that the empty hand shall fancy itself full of wisdom. But such fancies are the very growth of the soil of indolence. It is impossible to make such a one understand his ignorance, for it requires knowledge to perceive it; and he who can perceive it has it not (Jeremy Taylor). The evil may creep into the Church. One may fall into an idle and passive piety, content with sitting still, hearing, praying, singing, from one end of the year to the other, without advancing one step in the practical Christian life (1 Thessalonians 5:6). - J.

The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
The reprehensible sloth of the coward does not appear in what he says, but in what he leaves unsaid. He means, but is ashamed to say, "Because there is a lion in the way, I will shirk my duty." The brave man says, Though a lion is in the way, I will slay it; anyway I will fight with it and wound it."

I. "There is a lion in the way." In what way? In the way of life — of every life. Life, if it is to be a true life, is not an easy thing. There is, indeed, such a thing as a life which is no true life, only a living death. Sloth, self-indulgence, self-abandonment to a besetting sin, caring for nothing but self, and the keeping one's self miserably alive, to live at ease, to live selfishly, to live for pleasure, all this is to be dead while we live. If you live thus you may for a time live at home quite secure, fearless of the only lions you dread. If, on the other hand, you mean to live for nobler objects than those of shameless selfishness, you too, like Saul, will have to fight with wild beasts at Ephesus or elsewhere. There will be needed the girded loin and the burning lamp, the swift foot, and the sharp sword, and the stout heart, and the strong arm; faith and prayer, and the battle, and the Cross.

2. There are many lions, and not one only. True courage does not consist in the absence of any sense of fear — that may only be due to brute apathy — but it is to feel fear and to overcome it.

I. FOR THE BRAVE, TRUE MAN THERE IS THE LION OF THE WORLD. We live in days of wonderful, and for some men, pleasant compromises. Religion walks in silver slippers. Good and evil lie flat together, side by side, in amiable neutrality. You may take your choice. If what you are content with is compromise and conventionality, and the broad beaten road, and success and popularity, you may have it for the asking: it is quite easy to offend nobody. But if you would have any of the nobleness, any of the usefulness, of the prophet or the reformer, boldly rebuke vice, denounce a fashionable iniquity, fling away from you a theological falsehood, run counter to a general delusion, deal vigorously with the "lion in the way." The lion of the world's hatred and opposition may be avoided. It is avoided by thousands of sleek and prosperous men.

II. But there is another lion which each man must meet, THE LION OF HIS OWN FLESHLY NATURE, OF HIS OWN PHYSICAL AND MENTAL PASSIONS. describes each man as consisting, so to speak, of three beings in one: a lion, a many-headed monster, and a man. Of these the man represents the controlling reason; the lion the fierce and irascible temper; the many-headed monster the low and animal passions. The man, the reason, must absolutely rule; the irascible impulses must not be crushed, indeed, but controlled; the monster of fleshly lusts must be utterly subdued. By every one of us that lion, that multitudinous and many-headed monster, must be fought.

III. ANOTHER LION IS HE WHO "GOETH ABOUT, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR." Each of us knows by experience that there are some tendencies and temptations — to pride, to falsity, to blaspheming thoughts, to causeless hatred — which often come upon a man with fierce and unlooked-for suddenness, and we know not whence or where the tempting opportunity suddenly meets the susceptible disposition. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Remember that he can be fought face to face, but the Christian has no armour for the back.

IV. CONSIDER THE DUTY OF FACING THESE LIONS IN OUR OUTWARD LIFE. Everywhere individual license invades public rights. The slothful man (and the slothful man is the epitome of the slothful nation) is ingenious in excuses. Happily every now and then God-strengthened, God-inspired, good, brave, unsophisticated men, have torn their way through these thorny hedges of indolence, greed, and opposition; have faced the wild beast of demoralised public opinion, in spite of its erect mane and flaming eye.

V. THE SLOTHFUL MAN PLEADS THAT MANY HAVE BEEN SLAIN BY THIS "LION IN THE WAY." Yes, it is quite true. But to them, as to their Lord, through death, and after death, if not in life, hath come the glory and the victory. Slain: yet no harm has come to them. Better a thousand times their death than the life of the selfish and the base. There is one way in which a man can die even better than this. It is when, homeless, landless, wifeless, childless, without even a hope of earthly things, he faces those fearful odds, not for his own wealth or his own comfort, but for his brother man; faces them for the sake of simple duty, faces them for the common love of humanity, faces them because, if God wills it, he, too, is ready to die for those for whom Christ died. Take courage, then, all ye who are fearless enough and noble enough to care for any righteous cause.

(Dean Farrar.)

Man is made up of contradictions. A strong propensity to indolence, and a principle which prompts to action. There is a charm in the exercise of those physical and intellectual powers with which man is endowed. With many indolence diffuses its benumbing influence through all their faculties and powers. It becomes a disease, which strengthens itself by continuance. Habit is equally efficient in generating and confirming evil and good qualities. Extraordinary changes of moral character from bad to good have occurred in every age; but we have no right to calculate on them, so as to become indifferent to the ordinary growth of good or evil disposition. Indolence of character proceeds from a torpid state of the affections, or coldness of heart, in some partly natural, in most persons however, acquired by habit. In the state of indolence, the spellbound slumberer avails himself of every pretext for continuing to doze. The text gives one of his frivolous and groundless excuses. Consider some of the sluggard's formidable discouragements and obstacles in the way of exertion — such as that labour is painful; that self-denial is against nature; and that there is no certain prospect of success, and that God, being all mercy, is ready to forgive at any time. You cannot question or dispute the evils, the misery and ruin to which indolence leads in this world; or the moral ruin to which the sin of lukewarmness, or indifference to your religious obligations, will lead you in the world to come.

(James Flint, D. D.)

We see not so much with our eyes as with our prejudices. "The wish is father to the thought." Some men look at the religious life, and see in it nothing but what is narrow and bigoted, gloomy and morose. They do not want to see anything else. Some professing Christians look on the world's amusements and discern no evil in them. It is to be feared they have no special desire to be convinced of any. There are members of Churches who look at Christian work in its varied departments and with its paramount claims, yet cannot be brought to discover their own qualifications to engage in it. The reason is, they have no wish to. "The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the streets." And when anything in the shape of self-denying service is proposed to certain persons, this lion assumes most portentous dimensions, and rivals the thunder with his roar.

(J. Halsey.)

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