by Jacob Hudgins
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”(Prov 24:30-34).
We have all seen the scene Solomon describes: a fine property gone to pieces. We have seen children who are the product of neglectful parents. Cars run down because no one checked under the hood. Marriages disintegrated because people slowly drifted apart. As people who hold myriad vital responsibilities, we also need to “look and receive instruction.” What can we learn about maintenance?
Laziness is often manifested as not taking care of what we have. We often think in laziness in other terms than this—focusing on the image of oversleeping or inaction. But this sluggard struggled with keeping the ground clear of thorns and nettles and strengthening his stone wall. Now his vineyard is useless. Personally, I want badly to have my responsibilities—my relationships, my home, my work—to reach a point where I can leave them to focus on other things. Yet that point never comes, and my neglect of vital things is pictured biblically as laziness.
We are stewards. All that we have—our relationships, opportunities, property, family, spiritual life—is a gift from God. He intends for us to use them well. Yet all of these require maintenance—a steady focus that does not wear out. “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful”(1 Cor 4:2). Stewards must be dependable, consistently discharging the duties given them by the master. My marriage needs maintenance. My spiritual life needs maintenance. My possessions need maintenance. And if we see the thorns and nettles start to grow up in any of these areas, we must act quickly! We are stewards!
Maintenance is less about correction than consistency. At times we become convinced that something is wrong in an area of our lives and began a frenzied effort to correct all the problems. This passage shows us that consistency is really the important aspect of maintenance. If we continue to walk with the Lord throughout our lives, it will be because we consistently followed him through good days and bad—not because we corrected all the problems forever.
God has blessed us all so richly. Let’s attend to his blessings!