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The Uncultivated Field

Family Devotions:
M. My Father’s Business..............................................................................Luke 2:41-50
T. Not Slothful in Business...........................................................................Romans 12:6-11
W. Working in the Day................................................................................John 9:1-4
T. Faith and Works......................................................................................James 2:14-18
F. No Work - No Food..................................................................................II Thessalonians 3:6-15
S. Inspiring Insects........................................................................................Proverbs 6:6-11
S. Wasted Opportunities...............................................................................Proverbs 18:1-9

Devotional Reading: Hosea 10:1-12

Memory Selection: “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3).

Lesson Scripture: Proverbs 24:30-34


In this lesson we shall focus on land that has not been cultivated. There is, of course, uncultivated land such as forest areas which have remained in their wild state. What Solomon has brought to our attention is land that had been previously brought into cultivation and later left uncultivated. In this specific case, it had been allowed to grow up in weeds and briars instead of maintaining it as a field where crops were planted and harvested.

Other than Jesus Christ, Solomon was probably the wisest man ever to live. He was the recipient of divine wisdom which came in answer to prayer. “God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (I Kings 3:5), and Solomon said, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (I Kings 3:9). Endowed with such great wisdom he was able to make many observations about the realm of nature. In Proverbs 6:6-11 and Proverbs 30:29-31 he watched insects and animals and learned many valuable lessons. In the case of the uncultivated field he observed slothfulness and again shared with us this valuable lesson on life.

The Results of Slothfulness

1. What two results were evident to Solomon as he looked at the field of the slothful?

2. What specific results of slothfulness can be seen in our society today?

There is a very slow moving animal in South and Central America that lives in trees and hangs upside down. It is called a Sloth and it is a good illustration for slothfulness. By definition, the word sloth means - unwilling to work or exert oneself, laziness, idleness (Thorndike Barnhart Comprehensive Desk Dictionary). As Solomon calls our attention to the field of the slothful, it is not difficult for us to understand why it was in such a state of unfruitfulness and ill repair. The owner of the field was simply too lazy or indifferent to keep it properly maintained.

The problem of slothfulness or laziness was not limited to people in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we read, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10). Notice that the Apostle Paul was not denouncing those who for some reason could not work, but those who “would not work.” There is a great difference between people who do not have the ability to perform a task and those who can and yet are unwilling to do so. Laziness continues to be a great deterrent to progress and productivity. Christians should combat the temptation to wallow in ease and extended leisure, which prevents them from serving our Lord Jesus Christ in His church and kingdom.

Jesus taught us the “Parable of the Sower,” which is recorded in Matthew 13:1-23. The seed that was sown represented the Word of God (Luke 8:11) and in sowing it was scattered on four different kinds of terrain. Some fell by the side of the road, some on rocky soil, some among thorns and some on good ground. Jesus reminded us that some seed fell among thorns (Matthew 13:22) and Solomon noticed thorns and nettles growing in the field of the slothful. The land had not been properly cultivated in both cases.

We should look at our lives and see if we have become lazy and allowed the field of our lives to become overgrown and unfruitful. Have we lost sight of God’s will for us or ignored the words of our dear Saviour when He said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4)). Remember that Jesus said, “...the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). He said specifically the labourer, not the lazy! Our Lord also harshly condemned the one talent man by calling him a “wicked and slothful” servant (Matthew 25:26). May we pray for grace and strength to overcome our tendencies to be slothful, both in our temporal and spiritual lives.

Lost Opportunities

3. Are our efforts to God’s glory diminished by slothfulness in His service? Explain.

4. How has slothfulness among God’s children affected His church in the earth?

It appears that the problems in the field Solomon described did not happen overnight. It was the result of extended and prolonged neglect in maintaining both the land and the stone wall which surrounded it. No doubt, many opportunities to plow and re-stack the stones of the wall had been neglected by the owner. The description seems to be that of a dilapidated landscape, much like old buildings we often see by the side of the road. As we look at their decay and the growth of vegetation around them, we see that many years have passed since they were last repaired. The same problems could be attributed to those buildings and the uncultivated field; many fair days and grand opportunities passed and yet they remained in their deplorable condition. How sad! Opportunities were neglected and lost that could never be regained. It is true that new opportunities will come as time passes on, but those we did not use are forever gone.

While it is true that we cannot do everything that needs our attention, it is also true that all too often we simply do not do all we are capable of doing. Sometimes we get so busy there is just not enough time to accomplish all that needs doing; however, there are times in life that we waste our abilities on unimportant things and fail to be good stewards of the time God has given us. More than anyone, God is aware of the many demands on our time and on at least one occasion Jesus took His disciples aside for a time of rest because they were so busy (Mark 6:30-32). On other occasions God has encouraged His people to be more industrious, saying, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).

It is our duty to consider all the demands of life and weigh them carefully in the balances of God’s Word, thereby determining their importance. We must then recognize the priorities God places upon them, so that we may seize upon every opportunity to please and serve God. If we allow these many opportunities to pass us by, we neglect our God given responsibilities. Like the farmer whose field and wall Solomon observed, our spiritual lives will become overgrown and our walls will also deteriorate and fall down. God inspired Paul to write, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Fallow Ground

5. What does “fallow ground” describe as it pertains to the service of God?

6. What steps can we take to correct the problem of “fallow ground”?

God directed two of His prophets to address the subject of “fallow ground.” Both Jeremiah and Hosea recognized this problem among God’s people. Jeremiah spoke these words: “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). Hosea called upon Israel to do the same, saying, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). Those “holy men of God” were “moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21) to tell God’s people of old “Break up your fallow ground.” Their words should remind us of our need to do the same. Paul reminds us that “...whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning...” (Romans 15:4a), so that we may understand our duty today is to do the same.

The “fallow ground” mentioned in the above passages describes ground that has been tilled or plowed and brought into cultivation, then later left neglected and unused. The land once had been useful in planting fruitful crops which fed and sustained man and beast. As seasons passed in the cycle of life, the land which was covered with debris from previous crops became infested with weeds and briars that somehow found a way to survive. To remain productive, the land needed to be broken up again and again when the planting season came. Stone walls were sometimes built around the fields to protect them from animals and people who might otherwise damage the crop. Time takes its toll on us and all things around us. Because the field and wall were not maintained properly, they became deteriorated and unfruitful.

In a similar way, if we do not continuously work in God’s kingdom and service, we will deteriorate spiritually and become unproductive. We may also allow the briars and thorns of worldly interest to grow unrestrained, and if we fail to uphold moral values and principles of truth, our lives will become like the uncultivated field Solomon described in our Lesson Scripture. Like the land he looked upon, we will become over grown with thorns and nettles and our stone wall will become broken down (Proverbs 24:31). What a pitiful and discouraging sight, especially if those words describe the spiritual condition of a person. Do you know someone like that? If so, encourage him to break up his “fallow ground.” Are you in that condition? If so, take this lesson to heart. Solomon said, “Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction” (Proverbs 24:32). May all of us receive instruction today and be blessed with wisdom to see the folly of slothfulness, that poverty may not come upon us (Proverbs 24:33-34).


Sometimes people are so concerned about what others should do, that they fail to see their own responsibilities. We see this in John 21:21, when it says “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?” On the other hand, we find that the Bible says of Paul, “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?...” (Acts 9:6). We all need to look deep within our own heart and discover which question we most often ask.

Let us remember that we either stand or fall before our Lord and Master. Romans 14:4 says, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth...” Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master. He said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13). Let us therefore serve Him; “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6). The psalmist taught us to “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) and Jesus, our Lord and Saviour taught us to be about our “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). May our lives be a cultivated and fruitful fields, where human needs are met and Christ is praised.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014