Our choice: hedge or highway

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.

Proverbs 15:19 KJV

In my study to confront laziness and strengthen diligence, I am going through the relevant Bible verses. This one, I am sure you can imagine, is like a hard thump in the head from your mother (or some other loving guardian).

In the KJV, a lazy person is called a sluggard. Sounds so unattractive, right? And in the pattern of contrasts in the Book of the Proverbs, the counter to the sluggard is the upright. Not more black-and-white than that, don’t you think? Yeah, me too. We are either the sluggard, or the upright.

Once past the crude identifiers, we look in the bible mirror to judge the behaviors that create our lives. Let’s look at this verse in the NLT.

A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway.

Hedge of Thorns

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

There is one other place in scripture that references the hedge of thorns — Hosea 2:6. We learn that God’s people have played the harlot and given their heart and affection to other things. In the response of a betrayed yet still focused and passionate suitor, God says that he will block the interactions.

Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.

Hosea 2:6 KJV (emphasis added)

Proverbs 15:19 says that those who live like sluggards — like lazy people — experience a hedge of thorns. That is, the pricks, entangles and lacerations of the thorns (AMP). Laziness hurts. Laziness creates an environment of injury. Trying to make progress through a hedge of thorns…is one big ouch! Getting through it will hurt, cut, and scar.

The Level Highway

…but the way of the righteous is made plain. Other versions say that the righteous or the upright is an open (NLT) or level (ESV) highway. The righteous live in the open, on a smooth road. This path is free of hindrance.

Photo by Nagy Szabi on Unsplash

How very different our lives can look, even with the same opportunity of time! Even is born into the prickly thorn hedge of laziness, we can transform our experience into living in open, level, and smooth territory. How? We have to forge ahead and keep going. To rise above laziness and operate in a diligent reality, we have to:

  • forego blaming… If we were not the cause, we have to settle on being the solution. We have to dig ourselves out of complacent thought, speech, and behavior. We have to do the Word.
  • stop daydreaming… God does not make our dreams come true in this sense. He plants seeds in us to nourish and grow so that these seeds become plants, trees, and vines, that feed us. Dreaming of a better life without the requisite effort is a waste of time.
  • be willing to do it alone… No one owes us help. We wish we had more help, but if we are honest, we do not want people to see our laziness up close. There is no honor in that. The honor is in awareness, confrontation, and overcoming.


The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to renew our minds to align with God’s Word. Here are a few confessions to speak in your own ear to unseat laziness.

  • I live, plan, and produce on the smooth and open highway of the upright.
  • When progress is painful, I will check for the hedge of thorns.
  • I cut through the lazy hedge with the sword of diligence.
  • I am upright and I intentionally position my life on the open highway.
  • I refuse the hindrances created by laziness. I will not be boxed in by my choices to the point of constant suffering. I will be free.
  • I give myself time to make the right choices.
  • My decisions bless me and bless my future.
  • I break all ties and all affections with lazy living.


Dr. Shaunta Scroggins is the lead contributor to The Bereans’ Commentary.

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