Diligence and Laziness

Today’s devotional reading focuses on the differences between diligence and laziness. Several Proverbs enjoin us in diligence in our work lives. Two of the representative passages are:

 

Proverbs 12:27

A lazy man doesn’t roast his game,

but to a diligent man, his wealth is precious.

 

Proverbs 13:11

Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle,

but whoever earns it through labor will multiply it.

 

Work is a gift from God, given to us for several reasons. When we work well we glorify God. When we work well we provide for our families, and, according to Scripture, our neighbors. When we work wisely we pattern ourselves after our God who created all things in 6 days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:1-2). Gaining wealth (our income, savings, and assets) is not un-biblical. In fact, God gives us those abilities so that we can then do everything else with it listed above.

 

Our greed and anxiety turn our work into a vice. We may gain wealth, and then refuse to be generous, or to be attentive to God’s commands for giving and the support of his kingdom. In these cases we misuse the gift of work and the fruit it gives us.

 

On the other hand, laziness is an abuse of the time and talents God gives us. Two of the passages for today are:

 

Proverbs 26:14-16

14 A door turns on its hinges,

and a slacker, on his bed.

15 The slacker buries his hand in the bowl;

he is too weary to bring it to his mouth.

16 In his own eyes, a slacker is wiser

than seven men who can answer sensibly.

 

Proverbs 15:19

A slacker’s way is like a thorny hedge,

but the path of the upright is a highway.

 

What vivid imagery! A slacker (one of the reoccurring characters in Proverbs) is given a bowl of food but lacks the sense to raise his hand to his mouth. Some people are given jobs and lack the sense to even show up, much less strive to do well. In their book, The Gospel at Work, Traeger and Gilbert warn us against two extremes in terms of the Christian avoiding both the “idolatry of work” and “idleness at work”.

 

The follower of Jesus Christ can view their work as a gift, given by God to accomplish all kinds of amazing things for creation, family and friends, and the kingdom of God. As a result, we can learn to honor our work while honoring worship and Sabbath as well.

On Starting a Devotional

ProverbsHRT_WEB_0002_2_1024x1024We have all done it – started something new like a devotional series with every intention of making a habit of it, and then found ourselves quickly failing at what we started. We had good intentions, but simply did not make it very far.

This happens often enough for all of us, but I think there are some things we can keep in mind as we begin that can help us stick through to the end. And more than that, I can help make a short-term devotional into a greater habit of reading and absorbing the Word of God.

To help us all, here are some things to keep in mind as we begin.

Vision

I need to have a personal vision of the value of the devotional before I begin if it is going to stick. We can tell you it will be good for you (and it will), but until you have worked through your own reasons and “owned” them, it will be harder to complete a one-month devotional. If you can recall the last big project you successfully completed, you will be able to detail the reasons why that was important enough for you to go through the effort/expense/time/sacrifice to get it done.

It may be worthwhile to begin by listing your own reasons for why doing this devotional will be profitable. Your reasons will probably overlap with the ones we talk about as a church, but if they are yours, they will help the project stick. Maybe you have been out of the habit of Scripture reading for a while and need a kick-start. Maybe your reading has been dry of late and you need some fresh material. Maybe you sense a need to be in a better relationship with Christ for the sake of your family or work. Whatever it is, make it your own and build a vision for WHY this is important.

Intention

You may find reasons why a devotional project is important, but without sufficient motivation to engage in the process those reasons will wither and die on the vine. To make the vision a reality, we need sufficient intention to act.

Can we suggest some form of partnership or accountability? For a devotional series like this one, accountability doesn’t need to be intrusive, but one that is simple and effective enough for you to engage. If you read the text on the Bible app, it will keep track of the consecutive days you have opened and used the app and encourage you to keep it up. Maybe that is all you need. Maybe you need to post a quick reflection on social media every day you read and use that to encourage yourself to be accountable to your friends who read what you write.

Be creative about how you build intentionality into this devotional and it will go a long way toward helping you complete it.

Means

Now that you have a clear vision and a way of reinforcing your intention, it is time to implement how you will reach your vision. For instance, if you want to learn a foreign language you might download a language learning app on your phone or take a class at a local school. You won’t reach your vision by magic; you will need a tool.

The devotional is your tool. Recall your vision for this process, and then begin to see the devotional as how you will reach that goal. This devotional might be the first rung on the ladder, or it might be the “big win” for you. Either way, we hope you can make use of this tool with us as we work through it together!