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:
A lazy man doesn’t roast his game,
but to a diligent man, his wealth is precious.
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:
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.
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.