While reading in the Bible, in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, I repeatedly came across the word, "sluggard."  The question came up, "What does the word actually mean?"  Well, the book of Proverbs adequately describes what a sluggard is like, but you know me, I had to put in my two cents and take a stab as explaining it, before looking it up in the dictionary.

I said "A sluggard is a person who has no ambition, doesn't want to work and wants everyone else to take care of him."  My dad had a more graphic description.  He called this type person "A sorry good-for-nothing."  This pretty well fits Proverb's picture of a sluggard.

The word, sluggard, is used 14 times in the book of Proverbs, and presents a "not so rosy picture" of this type of person.  We will just share a couple of them.

Proverbs 6:9-11 reads, "How long will you slumber, O sluggard?  When will you rise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep -- So shall your poverty come on you like a robber, And your need like an armed man."

Proverbs 20:4, "The sluggard will not plow because of winter; Therefore he will beg during the harvest and have nothing."  (The scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version, used by permission).

My mind harked back to my high school days when I had such a person attach himself to me.  I was still in high school but I was working as a grounds keeper at the school.  This guy was my age and in the same grade with me, and we were nominal friends.  We would have been good friends, but he wouldn't carry his end of the load.  He  grated on my nerves.  I had heard he had a rough home life, his dad was mean to his mother and to the rest of the family, so, as a Christian, I felt I needed to befriend him.

Befriend him I did, but it soon got to be a problem.  I had a job but he didn't and he wasn't looking for one.  While I worked he hung around me, continually talking to me -- all the time -- distracting me from my work  and making me fear I would get fired for visiting instead of working.  I tried to send him home, telling him I didn't have time to stand around and talk, I had to be working.  He couldn't seem to get this message.  I even tried getting him to help with the work, but he couldn't get the hang of using a rake or a shovel.

Not only did he hang around me at work, he hung around me everywhere else, except at church.  When I was with my other friends this guy was always there.  He never had any money, so, if we went out for a coke or a hamburger, he was there.  You can't go out with a bunch of guys for a hamburger and coke and leave one guy without anything. Guess who paid for this guys meals.

I knew I was being taken advantage of, but I was torn between helping the needy and casting my pearls before a swine.  This thing came to a head when I and some of my friends decided to go fishing.

We couldn't plan anything without including the sluggard because he was always there.  The other guys apparently thought he was my friend so he was my problem and they paid no attention to him.

He didn't have a fishing pole so I loaned him one of mine.  When we started to load up the boat and all the gear into my pickup he found somewhere else to go, but he was back for the free ride to the lake.  We all pitched in for gas and snacks but he didn't have any money.  

We got to the lake about lunch time.  We had all pitched in and made sandwiches, and bought cokes, all but our freeloader friend.  This bum jumped in and ate more than his share of sandwiches and left some of us with very little.  I reprimanded him about this, telling him he should have considered the others and not eaten more than his share.  Then he pouted.  

When we started unloading the boat and carrying it down a steep bank to the water, It was a hard job requiring all hands.  The sluggard was sitting down in the shade pouting and didn't come to help.  

By now I was mad.  I told him, "You get up and get over here and help with the work."  He did get up and go over there, even put his hands on the boat but really didn't help with the lifting or carrying, in fact he just got in the way.  

When it came to loading up after we were done fishing, we had the same problem.  I didn't even ask him to help.  But I told him this was the last time he would go with me on a fishing trip.  

I don't know whatever became of this young man but, to me,  he served as a perfect example of what it means to be a sluggard.

Roget's II The New Thesaurus used to word "wastrel" for the meaning of sluggard, and then gave a  description of which we are using only a part.  Under number 2, Roget's says,  "(A sluggard is:) A self-indulgent person who spends time avoiding work or other useful activity:"   It offers the following synonyms: "bum, dolittle, do-nothing, drone, faineant, good-for-nothing, idler, lazybones (slang), loafer, ne'er-do-well, no-good, slouch, slug, (informal), slugabed, sluggard."

I sincerely hope this description doesn't fit any of our readers, but if it does, you really need to change your way of thinking.  The book of Proverbs consistently portrays the sluggard as a complete failure.

I now realize this boy probably had an emotional problem, and needed help, but as a fellow teenager I was not equipped to help him overcome his problem.  After a couple of years of his leaching off of me, I continued to befriend him, but I never took him on a trip again.  He eventually moved away and I never heard from him again.

I have often wondered what I could have done differently.  I simply didn't know how to handle this problem then, and I'm not sure I would know how to handle it now.  I couldn't get him to see he had an obligation and responsibility to do his part of the work.  I've wonder, if by doing everything for him I may have been contributing to his irresponsibility.  

What is a sluggard?  Not someone you want for a close friend.