Pro 15:19 The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
Our verses today are about two characteristics or attitudes that we truly need to avoid. As I began thinking and studying for this post, I thought to myself, "These are considered to be two of the seven deadly sins by some churches. Wonder who first came up with that?" So instead of idly wondering about it, I did a google search. I could have gone upstairs and chosen a couple of books that are on our shelves, but hey -- you can find anything on the internet, right?!
So, who came up with wrath, and sloth, and all the others? According to my research, the very first one was a Greek thinker -- but he had eight. A couple hundred years later, a pope got into the act, and narrowed the field to seven. I think since then there may have been some tweaking, but it has pretty much stayed the same.
Let's look at wrath, first, OK? The root for this word carries the meanings "heat, anger, poison" --- we're talking about rage here . . . inordinate, and uncontrolled. Not just your garden variety "I'm-mad-at-you-and-I'm-going-to-pout" but full blown, knock your socks off rage. Not a good thing. It causes too much hurt, harms our witness, and may injure the angry person or the people around him/her.
The root for "stirreth" is even more interesting (at least I think so...y'all may be yawning here!) because it is "to grate, stir, or meddle." Hmmm . . . a wrathful person IS rather grating to be around, and I've known one or two that would meddle in other people's business and get angry about that, if they couldn't find anything else to fuss about!
What's the contrast? Someone who is slow to anger -- peaceable, meek, long-suffering. Uh, oh, we're getting into the fruits of the Spirit, aren't we? And I'm going to feel badly because I know that others probably don't see those in me, as much as I'd like to think they do. (Blush) Matthew Henry's commentary says this:
He that is slow to anger not only prevents strife, that it be not kindled, but appeases it if it be already kindled, brings water to the flame, unites those again that have fallen out, and by gentle methods brings them to mutual concessions for peace-sake.Ouch! I felt that one . . . I think I need to put on my boots - the ones with the reinforced toes!
Next, let's look at sloth. This encompasses laziness, indifference, and a refusal to utilize one's talents and gifts. Did you notice that Solomon uses the word "way" twice there? What caught my eye was that they were actually two different words . . . to make a long story short, let me replace those words with their roots, and see what you think:
The (course of action) of the slothful man is (imagined to be) a hedge of (briers and thorns), but the (well-trodden road) of the righteous is made plain.
So a slothful individual will make up reasons why his duty is too hard, and why he (or she) can't complete their tasks . . . that their task is too difficult or dangerous, and they are justified in their reluctance to "get 'er done," in today's vernacular. Now, am I saying that we must be automatons, robots, never tiring, always working --- nope, I'm getting tired just thinking about that! Matthew Henry says that it is an "honest desire and endeavor to do our duty" that we need to strive for. Then God's grace will make it a "well trodden" path: easy to find, easy to stay on, and strewn with the blessings that He sends to us.
I'm going to be honest here -- I don't have a wrath problem, but sometimes I have a sloth problem. I will chafe under the load, and wish I could do something else.
Lord, please remind me that my way will be plain, if I'll make an honest effort to do what I know I'm supposed to do!