The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside;
I will be killed in the streets!”
Get real! There is a lion in the town square and no one is doing anything about it? And while we’re at it, since you’ve been lying in bed all morning, how would you know?
While the main point of Proverbs 22:13 is that a lazy person will make excuses to avoid work and responsibility, observations of this verse might also be made about excuse-making, how fear and laziness are related, and people who say bizarre things.
One dictionary defines “bizarre” as unusual, very strange in a way that causes interest or amusement. Another adds elements of incongruity, the unexpected, the whimsically strange.
How do people commonly react to bizarre statements? People commonly don’t know what to do. They withdraw. Some try to figure out how or why it happened. When we understand how and why, it is easier to figure out how to respond. At the least, we are comforted by being able to categorize it into our worldview.
Withdrawal and figuring it out can lead to passivity and making excuses for the person. How convenient for the speaker! By distracting or confusing others, especially in a whimsical way, he gets them off his back.
I suppose that all excuses are more or less bizarre in God’s sight because they are propositions that do not accord with reality. What we need to do is to be responsible in obedience to God. When we aren’t responsible, we need to confess it as the sin it is and repent from it. We need to put off fears and put on love and faith in God, put off irresponsible or false ideas and put on the truth of God’s Word, put off laziness and put on holy industry.
Here are some considerations based upon Proverbs 22:13:
- While real danger can be (but might not be) a prudent reason for not doing some things, fear is not an acceptable excuse for avoiding responsibility. Evaluate what God’s will is and then do it with gusto.
- A lazy person applies imagination to create lame excuses. He may cultivate his own unnecessary fears.
• Do not use fear to excuse procrastination or irresponsibility.
• Parents, if fear seems to be a “reason” that your child avoids responsibility, teach what to do with fear. Teach your child to trust God and boldly carry out responsibility.
- Use of the imagination can result in wild, off the wall, irrational, and bizarre thinking.
• Therefore, don’t let the bizarre fool you. Just because someone who is basically healthy (and not affected by drugs, sleep deprivation, illness, brain injury, etc.) makes bizarre statements doesn’t mean the person has what used to be called a “mental illness” and today is called a “mental disorder.” It may mean that he is avoiding responsibility or avoiding admission of some sin in his life or distracting himself from guilt feelings. He may have more wits about him than those who are fooled.
- Practice makes a habit, and habit practiced creates a worldview and a lifestyle. Someone who habitually makes excuses may eventually persuade himself to believe the lie. We describe such a person as self-delusional.
- • If you habitually make excuses, start right now disciplining yourself to think and agree to the truth.
• Parents: In love, counter the lies of your children with truth. Teach them about how perceptions can be influenced by what we want to believe. Use Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful. Teach about habituation, that perceptions and rationalizations used as excuses can become so habituated that we forget the truth, live by lies, and even become so enslaved to those lies that the thoughts and false statements are second nature.
• Friend, if someone you love makes excuses, lovingly speak truth when appropriate, especially leading to foundational principles about God’s character and our responsibility. If excuses tend to be extreme, gently show them reality. Urge them to determinedly meditate on God’s Word, the standard of reality.
• Besides gaining insight about people in general, I found something in this passage to apply to myself. What about you?