Like vinegar to the teeth, like smoke to the eyes,
so is the lazy person to those who send him ⌊on a mission⌋. (Proverbs 10:26 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 10:22-32 GW)
Laziness is not a virtue. But the thought of being lazy is appealing when faced with the daily grind of life. In the midst of time demands and the tyranny of the urgent, we may daydream of taking a day to just do nothing.
But laziness as a lifestyle or a lazy approach to life—with no ambition or motivation—has an accumulative effect. Laziness becomes its own treadmill of dread with no jumping off point.
Childhood play is not laziness nor is recreation or vacation for adults. There is a creative and restorative purpose in playing and having fun or taking time for rest. Much is written on this.
But laziness is neither play nor rest. At its best, it's apathy and slothfulness. At its worst, it is destructive and disruptive—for the lazy person and for those impacted by their laziness.
This proverb is quite descriptive—
Like vinegar to the teeth, like smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy person to those who send him ⌊on a mission⌋. (Prov 10:26 GW)
If you've been around a campfire when the wind shifts and smoke blows in your eyes, you know how much it burns and how this lingers after you get out of the path of the smoke.
Vinegar has a distinct and lasting taste. If you've tasted bad wine, certain home remedies, or an oil and vinegar dressing with too much vinegar, you know the taste. Drinking water doesn't wash it all away—something sweet is needed to counter the acrid, bitter, and sour taste left in your mouth.
How is this proverb of any value to our daily life?
Depending on someone who is lazy or does their work in a lazy manner is more than futile or frustrating. It leaves a bitter taste in our mouths that lingers. The burn of being let down by someone has a ripple effect.
It's easy to see this with others but how about ourselves? We only fool ourselves when we make excuses or blame others for our own slackness in carrying out a task.
I've heard complaints from people who work with Christian believers who don't do their jobs well and excuse their poor work performance because they are "witnessing for the Lord." The trouble is, they are a poor example of Christianity and this leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of those who work with them.
Those of us who are people of faith—people who have chosen to follow Jesus—need to show excellence in the workplace, as well as with any task or service we're engaged in at church.
We also need to do whatever we do with a cheerful and gracious attitude. This honors the Lord and won't leave a bitter taste in anyone's mouth or heart.
If you are a person of faith and follower of Jesus, you are to be an honorable example in your workplace or any other place you serve others. Do so with a cheerful and gracious attitude so the Lord is honored and others are blessed by your presence.
Ask God to show you where you might need to improve your effort at work or while serving in some ministry or church role. If the Lord shows you things that could be done better, ask Him to show you how to do make those necessary changes.
Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?