When Reason Serves Rebellion

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)

This is not what I expected the proverb to say. I would have expected it to say, “The coward says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!’” But it says, “sluggard,” not “coward.” So, the controlling emotion here is laziness, not fear.

But what does laziness have to do with the danger of a lion in the street? We don’t usually say, “This man is too lazy to go do his work because there is a lion outside.”

The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work, and thus shifts the focus from the vice of his laziness to the danger of lions. No one will approve his staying in the house all day just because he is lazy. But they might excuse him if there is a lion in the street.

One profound biblical insight we need to learn from this is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what we want. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right, even if they’re wrong.

This is what the sluggard is doing. He deeply desires to stay at home and not work. There is no good reason to stay at home. So, what does he do? Does he overcome his bad desire — his laziness? No, he uses his mind to create unreal circumstances to justify his desire.

Jesus said, “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). We love the darkness so that we can keep on doing what we want without exposure. In this condition, the mind becomes a factory of darkness — a fountain of half-truths, equivocations, sophistries, evasions, and lies — anything to protect the evil desires of the heart from exposure and destruction.

Consider and be wise.