One could wish, on a sleepy morning’s reading, for something more inspiring, more … um … spiritual.
Do not love sleep, or else you will come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread. (Proverbs 20:13 NRSV)
The expression at first seems an exaggeration: Don’t love sleep.
Yet if love defines the yearning of a heart for that which it quests after most single-mindedly, then probably the sage is not overstating his case. We do, some of us, love sleep.
In a number of our over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived subcultures, a little more sleep would do some of us a world of good, to say nothing of those with whom we share living or working space and the guy who eyes us warily from one lane away. The proverb has nothing to say about the concrete need to sleep more because our bodies were designed to do so.
It speaks instead to the one who finds the world so alarming or dull that he prefers the refuge of sleep to engagement with it. There is no spiritual secret for such a man. His job is to get his feet on the floor and get moving.
The biblical witness, in its many forms and genres, takes creation seriously. Things do not work the way they do by accident but rather by loving design. Poverty follows sloth because vigorous engagement with the world as the means to wealth creation is designed into the thing. Turning over one more time when it’s time to rise and get at things is a culpable misalignment with created reality.
The biblical collector of proverbs, as the apostle facing down inactive believers in the early church, has no prayerful rhetoric for such lazy bums.
Theirs is rather to get up, praise their Maker for the light of day, put hand to plow or pencil or its proxy, and make something out of nothing. Or even just a little order out of chaos.
Open your eyes, runs the proverb, and you’ll have bread. There are no alternative secrets.