Solomon writes, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road!  There is a lion in the streets!’”  Proverbs 26:13.  To us, this sounds like a ridiculous excuse to not do something.  But there is a great deal that we do not know.  How often were there lions in the streets?  Could there have been a lion in the street yesterday?  Did this person, in the past, have a lion encounter?  Did the news report an uptick in the amount of lions in the streets?  Do the answers to these questions provide a legitimate excuse for this person to miss work?  Had Solomon thought of all of these possibilities?  I am not the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon was) and I thought of them so I am going to guess that he did understand that there could be a possibility of some or all of these things.  But, he chose to point out, that even if all of these things were happening, this is the same thing that a sluggard would say. So, Solomon wants us to check our hearts to see if we are simply trying to get out of doing something or if there truly is a good reason to be careful.
We, of course, do not cry out about lions in the streets.  Our list of possibilities are much more legitimate.  It is supposed to rain.  I could fall.  I have to spend time with my family.  Covid is out there.  There is an uptick in violent crimes.  The traffic is probably horrendous.  All possibilities.  All could be legitimate reasons to not do something.  Who wants to work on electrical circuits in the rain?  But they could also be excuses to hide some heart issues that we should face.  It is possible to legitimate excuse ourselves into a prison cell within our house.  Anytime we step outside our house, and even inside our house, we have the possibilities of something happening.  It is important to make wise safety decisions but it is also possible that we have been caught by hearts attitudes of laziness, fearfulness, or self sovereignty (we will control all aspects of our lives and trust in our wise decisions more than in a God who controls all).  Our friends cannot truly tell the difference between a heart attitude that needs to change and a legitimate excuse, and I am not sure we can either.  We must rely on the Spirit and Word of God to expose our heart attitudes that rule our lives.
Here are a few things we can do to help us determine if we are truly seeing lions or just fearful that we might see them.  The first thing that we should do is to take time to rejoice in the beauty of the sovereignty of God.  Our whole lives have been in his hands.  Every time we have driven in a car we are rejoicing in the sovereignty of God.  We know that there are possibilities of horrendously bad things happening but we try to be safe and we trust the Lord to protect and guide.  The second thing we can do is to remember that every thing we do is full of possibilities.  But not all of those possibilities are bad.  You might contact Covid but you also might have the opportunity to share Christ.  You might strengthen your trust in the Lord.  You might make a good friend that brings you great joy.  Number three is something we often forget.  God did not create us so that we could isolate ourselves.  He created us to be involved in each other’s lives.  He created us to be productive.  He created us, as new creatures in Christ, to worship together.  Often, not doing something because there is as lion in the streets is disobedience to the God who saved and changed you.  Our obedience must be a greater motivator than what might happen.  Satan is subtle.  We are always on guard against the government taking away our freedom to serve Jesus faithfully but we sometimes forget to guard against our own heart attitudes that take us prisoner.
I often wondered when I read this verse if Solomon had teenagers. “Dad, I wanted to mow the lawn but Billy told me they spotted a lion roaming the neighborhood?”  Probably an unlikely scenario because Solomon was so rich that he had landscapers but I could still picture it.  It took me a while to understand that I am too often the sluggard.  My excuses, of course, are much better than a lion in the streets but nonetheless, they are still excuses.  Why I did not contact that person.  Why I did not get that chore done.  Why I put off my Bible reading or prayer.  Why didn’t I… Once I stopped and examined those excuses and began calling it like Solomon did (I am being lazy or I am being fearful) it began to allow me to face my heart and it helped motivate me to do what God was calling me to do. It usually wasn’t because it might rain but because I wanted to sit and relax some more.  It felt good to face that reality.  It helped motivate me to get up and accomplish that chore.  Most of the time.

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