“You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two!”
Proverbs 6:6 (MSG)
My wife is from a small town in Iowa. A one stop light, everybody knows your business, with 7 different churches in it kinda small. But from a young age Cherie’s parents new she wanted something bigger. To motivate her to achieve these things, they gave her tangible examples of why she needed to work hard and go to college.
The most vivid of these motivators was working in the chicken coops of a local farm. Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about unless you’ve seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Here is a refresher clip from the movie to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
That is exactly what my wife’s parents had her do!
Yep, Cherie is hardcore!
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with being a chicken farmer or living in a small town. But Cherie’s parents wanted to expose her to this type work so she could see the options she had in life. She could stay in the small town to work these kinds of jobs or she could go to college, work hard, meet a good-looking baseball player , and pursue the dreams she said she wanted to achieve.
The choice was hers, but achieving her dreams would take hard work.
In Proverbs 6, Solomon uses the example of the ant to call out those of us that are lazy. It’s easy to see why he used an ant if you’ve ever watched one work. They are quick to the task and quicker to the next one. Let’s face it, if you only have 60 days to live you better get after it! In the life of an ant there is no time for lounging and relaxing.
Our world is different.
In the Western World, it seems we define work as the annoying thing that gets in the way of relaxing. Fewer and fewer people look at work as a privilege and approach it with the responsibility God says that it is. Paul reminds us of the spiritual aspect of our work in Colossians 3:23 when he says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Work is ultimately not for our benefit, it is for God’s ultimate glory.
Before I go too much further, I want to be clear. I completely understand in the economy of today that jobs are difficult to get, let alone excel in. I have prayed for countless people that are not shy from hard work at all. This proverb is not directed at you and I pray God’s timing will provide work for you soon.
Now let’s be fair, I cherish my free time with my family and enjoy snuggling on the couch with my wife as much as the next married guy. God even designed the creative order to have rest woven into it by evidence of the command to Sabbath.
However, I do see a rising epidemic of people that find no value in hard work and are becoming obese with laziness. Men and women have seemingly become allergic to hard work and as a result have no drive, direction, or future. They have chosen to live life through the reality “stars” they watch reruns of at 2:00 on a Tuesday in their jammies.
The Message translation of Proverbs 6:9-11 hits it on the head. Listen to Solomon’s warning to us all that find laziness our friend.
“So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
poverty your permanent houseguest!”
No one can scrape your booty off the couch and make you work. If that were possible there would be far less mother’s cooking lunch for their 30-year-old son’s during their “break” from playing Halo in her basement.
The decision to work comes from within you and I. But the desire for working needs to come from a heart of genuine worship of God. We should never use the gift of life God gives us to idly sit on the sidelines of life out of a spirit of entitlement.
Rather, out of a spirit of thankfulness, we should work as hard as we can to show our affection for Him and allow that to be part of our testimony of His greatness in our life.