business lady working May 31 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Proverbs 19, 20, 21

To Work or Not to Work?

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon has much to say about laziness versus a good work ethic; they are contrasted throughout the book. In today's Bible reading there are many different Proverbs that bear little similarity with each other, except for this topic, so we will focus on it.

Some people are lazy while others are just unable to work for one reason or another. The lazy are those who are healthy enough and have opportunities but choose not to work. Solomon addresses that person, “Go to the ant, you sluggard [a lazy, slothful person]; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-7 NIV).

There are certain animals and insects which teach us to be industrious, if we take the time to watch them. An ant is self-motivated. Are we self-motivated or do we need someone to drag us out of bed every morning and prod us to get to work? Another busy insect is the bee. You may have heard the expression, “Busy as a bee.” Bees are always busy providing for their nest, their home. Are we?

Or, are we couch potatoes? For those who do not know, a couch potato is one who sits or lies down in front of a television, video game set, his computer, or social media device and does nothing but be entertained for long hours. He ignores his responsibilities. In Bible terminology a couch potato is a sluggard. Solomon describes the sluggard:

I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins [although other factors may be involved, you can often tell a sluggard lives in a house because his yard and his house are badly neglected—the grass is a foot long, and the house needs paint and repair].

I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man [both figures of speech denote sudden loss]. (Proverbs 24:30-34, NIV)

“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed” (Proverbs 26:14, NIV). Do we get up when it is time to get up or do we ignore our responsibilities and use excuses to stay in bed?

“The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth” (Proverbs 26:15, NIV). This expression may a poetic exaggeration (a hyperbole), but it demonstrates a case of extreme laziness.

“The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside!’ or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’” (Proverbs 22:13, NIV) A sluggard may contrive wild excuses so he will not have to get off his bed or couch and do something. Do we do that?

“The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly” (Proverbs 26:16, NIV). Evidently, the sluggard grows proud because he has a lot of time to think and figure out what everyone else should do. The greatest critics are those who are just observers from the stands or their armchairs. Experience from work, however, is a great teacher. We have enough armchair quarterbacks; we need people to get off the couch and get into the game.

Not all work is pleasant, but it is usually profitable. God gives each one of us responsibilities, and it is his design for us to spend a reasonable time working (if possible), either at home or outside the home. God has assigned six days for us to accomplish our work (Exodus 20:9) and then to rest. If we are poor, we must ask ourselves if it is our fault. Have we prayed for opportunities to work and then sought them out, or are we looking for our government, church, social organizations, families or friends to bail us out? We will feel much better about ourselves if we will work. Work helps us provide for our families. Work uses our muscles and exercises our brains (which television or social media seldom do) and provides us with opportunities for new experiences, social interaction, and rewards for our labor (Proverbs 12:24,27; 13:4).

Assigning a task to a sluggard is said to be as irritating “as vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes” (Proverbs 10:26, NIV). The slothful person can't be counted on to complete the task; in fact, he will make excuses and not do it at all or will not do it well. We should not rely on him for anything.

“The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19 NIV). The diligent usually have less problems getting what they want in life than the sluggard.

So what do we want—a difficult life earned through slothfulness or a life of blessings from diligence and work?

Lessons to Live By

  • Ants and bees teach us to be industrious.
  • A sluggard is a very lazy, slothful person. We shouldn't be like that or we and our family will suffer for it.
  • We should use the time and opportunities God gives us to work and provide for ourselves and our family and to share our resources.
  • A difficult life is earned through slothfulness, but a blessed life is earned through diligence and work.
  • Do we know God? He offers us forgiveness, peace and spiritual life (more...). He can make us new and give us the desire to work for his glory and our benefit.

Focus Verse

Proverbs 10:4 (NIV) “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

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A Look Ahead: We all want Hope in our lives, the confidence that we are going to succeed in the future. It is more than a simple wish—we desire to live in such a way that gives us success. How can we do that? What is the Key that opens the door to our future? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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