AS VINEGAR TO THE TEETH
Proverbs 10:26 As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.
In the midst of numerous other one-sentence proverbs, we find this one that is rather interesting in its nature. The reference comparesa sluggard toa worker ora messenger. A sluggard is described as a person that is habitually lazy or idle - a slothful person. The result of hiring a person such as this will be nothing but an irritation. You expect work from this person and get nothing. How did this affect the one hiring the sluggard? It sets his teeth on edge similar to what happens when one takes a sip of vinegar. It is irritating as smoke from a fire that gets in one's eyes. Sluggards, then, are nothing but irritations to the person that needs the services of a laborer or messenger. He is a lazy, idle, slothful person - a sluggard is not a person that you want to hire. They will irritate you like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes.
Proverbs has many references to the sluggard. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard: When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man (Proverbs 6:9-11). These verses indicate that poverty will slowly but surely overtake the slothful, idle person, and, without a change of attitude, will capture him and keep him in poverty as if guarded by an armed man. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger (Proverbs 19:15). Proverbs 19:24, indicates that a slothful person will starve because he is too lazy to obtain food to sustain himself. The sluggard will not plough by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest and have nothing (Proverbs 20:4). Also, the desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor (Proverbs 21:25). Here the slothful sluggard is described as having the desire for food, clothing, and other things to sustain himself, but refuses to work in order to obtain them. Such is the sluggard as described by the writer of the Proverbs.
The results of the sluggard; the slothful person, are evident in our own community that we live in, and through the media, we see these same results throughout the world. Society is full of sluggards. But what about within the kingdom of Christ; do sluggards exist in the church? Do you see or hear about laziness and idleness within the church? The apostle Paul did! For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they should work, and eat their own bread (2 Thess. 3:10-12). Not only were the sluggards of the church at Thessalonica idle and did no work, they did much harm as busybodies, backbiters, and engaging in slanderous gossip.
Yes, there are Christian sluggards. Jesus Christ addresses this subject in one of His many parables. In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven, which represents His church, to a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods (Matthew 25:14). Three servants are mentioned as receiving the responsibility for the goods of their master. He gave to one servant five talents, to another two, and to the third he gave one talent. Leaving the servants in charge of these talents, the master departed. The servants that received the five and the two talents went to work, and by their labor, each doubled the talents given to them by the master. The servant receiving one talent took it and hid it. Upon the return of the master, the servants were called to report the results of their stewardship over the talents. The first and second servants reported their gain and received very honorable rewards by being placed in charge of many things for the master. The last servant reported that he had hid the talent to avoid losing it. He returned to the master the talent that he had previously given him. There had been no effort to increase the talent for which he was responsible. He had not even placed the talent with the exchangers, which would have at least earned interest. His master replied, thou wicked and slothful servant. The talent was taken from him and he was cast into outer darkness (See Matt. 25:14-30).
Maybe we all have some of the tendencies of the sluggard. Are we too idle? Should we be doing more, both in our secular and spiritual lives? Be wise; consider the ways of the ant that works to provide food for the whole year. Search for opportunities to put your talents to work. The sluggard is vinegar to the teeth of God, and smoke to His eyes.