Work

Yesterday I tried to convince you that money is not that important.  So…you may be thinking, great, I don’t need to work that much.  Not so fast.  The Bible is pretty clear about the need to work.

Proverbs 10:4 says that laziness makes you poor and Proverbs 6:9-11 states that sleep brings on poverty.  Moreover, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says that we should work and not depend on anybody.  Paul even gave the Thessalonians a rule concerning work.  He said, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  He then told them that if someone refuses to work, they should not associate with that person in order that they may feel ashamed.  He said they should not regard them as an enemy, but they should warn them as a fellow believer.  Clearly, we need to work.

Work can bring us down sometimes.  If you are working in a job that you love, you are fortunate; good for you.  However, I think there are many who don’t love their job and are just doing it to get by.  I don’t think you have to love your job, but Colossians 3:22-24 tells us that whatever we do, we need to work at it with all our heart, as if we are working for the Lord, not for human masters.  We need to put forth our best effort at our jobs every day.  If something is worth doing, it should be done well.

Okay, we need to work, but how much should we work?  First, Proverbs 23:4-5 warns us not to wear ourselves out to get rich.  Again, don’t let money be your master.  Second, if you have made a decision to live your life for God, all of your time is God’s time, and He also has some work for you to do.  Ephesians 2:10 says that we are created to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.  If you are a Christian, you have some “God work” to get done.  Although, you shouldn’t try to think of ways that you can do work for God.  It said that God has already planned out your work for you in advance.  You just need to figure out what that work is.  If you are having trouble knowing what you should do for God, pray, listen to others, and be aware of what needs are around you.  God has given you a purpose in life and it is your job to fulfill that purpose.

We have a lot of work to do, but there is also good news for those that work.  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 lets us know that it is appropriate for a person to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their toilsome labor during the few days God has given them.  It goes on to say that when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, they should accept their lot and be happy in their toil because this is a gift from God.

Think about your own situation.  First, are you working or are you depending on others to meet your daily needs?  Second, are you working with all your heart or do you put forth less effort when nobody is looking?  Third, are you doing the work that God has prepared for you to do or do you use most of your time on yourself?  Fourth, do you work too much due to your drive to make more money?  Last, do you ever slow down enough to enjoy some of the gifts in this world that God has given you to enjoy?  If you struggle with any of these areas, work at it.  😊

-Rick McClain

Today’s 2021 Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 49-50 and 1 Timothy 6

Strong-Willed for God

Proverbs 22-24

Proverbs 22 6 NIV sgl

If you are just jumping in now, I have been pulling out a few lines in Proverbs that stand out to me, but I encourage you to do the same – you will likely find different ones!

22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

My mom always tells these horror stories from when I was a young child about how I was a nightmare to deal with (I’m sure she exaggerates…), but that didn’t mean that she just accepted it.  She tells me she prayed and asked that God would turn my stubborn, strong-willed self to be stubborn and strong-willed for God.  I can’t say that I have done a perfect job, but I know I am thankful for the prayers my mom said.  I don’t hit people in anger anymore (or throw whatever is in my hand across the room when I get mad).  Though I sometimes struggle to stay on fire for God, I am trying to do what I can to stay faithful through it.  The attribute of being strong-willed has been put to use in staying steadfast even when I go through times of struggle.   If you are the child who was raised in the faith and is still in it, thank your parents!  If you are someone who has children or plans to someday, keep this in mind.  It starts young.

23:4-5 Saying 8

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Finding a balance between providing for life and accumulating wealth can be difficult.  Most of us want to have nice things in life, but it can consume us.  That first line stands out to me – “Do not wear yourself out to get rich;” If I am so focused on work that I am worn out everyday, or don’t have time to spend with my family, I don’t think that is right.  Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of other places in the Bible that tell us we should be hard workers and not to be lazy (see next section), but overworking yourself just to gain wealth doesn’t feel right.  You might not be able to get everything you want, but learning to be content with what you have is for the better.  Contentedness is something I have been working on the last few months. What I have is enough.

24:30-34

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

Being lazy leads to an inability to thrive.  We have to find that balance of hard work, but not letting it consume us to where gaining possessions becomes our sole focus.  How are your priorities?  Where is God on that list?

We are moving out of Proverbs tomorrow, so enjoy these little bits of wisdom!

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+22-24&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow we jump from Proverbs (many of Solomon’s writings) to 1 Kings 5-6 and 2 Chronicles 2-3 to read some of the events of King Solomon’s life and reign.  We return to the rest of Proverbs next week on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Work Smarter and Harder!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 4 NIV

 

There is a mantra out there these days that says “Work smarter, not harder.” And although the meaning of it is to find more effective ways to do your work (“smarter”), you still have to get the work done. Working more efficiently doesn’t ever mean that you will have to work less hard. It gives the connotation as if working hard is bad. In all reality, there is great value in diligence. It teaches perseverance, persistence, and determination. It teaches us that hard work pays off. It teaches us to push through when times are tough.

 

When we think about hard work, it paints several different pictures.  Some may see someone with sweat on their brow and callused hands, others may see long hours of studying or learning, and others may see someone trying to save their marriage or building relationships…hard work can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Regardless of how you view hard work, it takes time and effort.

 

The wisdom we glean from Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you’re too lazy to plant seed, it’s too bad when you have no harvest on which to feed (The Passion Translation).” The NIV version uses the word sluggards for lazy. A little name calling there but the point is hammered home. You don’t put in the hard work, there will be no harvest. It is the basic principle of sowing and reaping. What you work for is what you get.

 

We see this illustrated again in Proverbs 20:13 (The Passion Translation), “If you spend all your time sleeping, you’ll grow poor. So wake up, sleepyhead! Don’t sleep on the job. And then there will be plenty of food on your table.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, l love a good nap! But too much sleep means that you are missing out. If you put the work in, you’ll get a lot of it. And this is not just applicable in work life; it is also in relationships and intellect/wisdom. For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you actually have to spend time learning. You spend time and energy on lessons, and practice and more practice in hopes that someday you will have mastered the song you were working on. Rarely will you find someone who can just sit down to a piano and play Beethoven without putting in the work!

 

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you think about “your work” through the lens of this verse, then our hard work will eternally pay off! I think it might be wiser to say “work smarter and harder!”

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Apples

Proverbs 23-25

apples-of-gold

Saturday, January 28

“Oh be careful little tongue what you say.  Oh be careful little tongue what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love.  So be careful little tongue what you say.”   “A word aptly (appropriately) spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (both beautiful and valuable!).”  (25:11)  How did your tongue do yesterday?  How can wisdom, patience, self-control and listening keep your mouth from playing the part of a fool today?   What appropriate word can you find to share today that will be beautiful and valuable to your audience?

There are a lot of verses in Proverbs about the lazy sluggard who is headed towards poverty.  In today’s passage we read, “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.” (24:33,34).   Other verses also talk about too much sleep (6:9,10; 19:15; 20:13).  I am sure these verses still do apply to many.  But, it seems that most adults and youth I know don’t allow themselves to get enough sleep!  I wonder if the dawn of electricity and modern entertainment has changed a lot of sleep patterns.  In Solomon’s day perhaps the love of sleep was the biggest contributor to laziness, poor time management and poverty. What about today?  Perhaps…“A little video game, a little TV, a little Facebook and Pinterest into the wee hours of the morning – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”   Is it possible that sleep is no longer the number one contributor to laziness, poor time management and poverty?  Has it been replaced with our modern love of vegging out (def’n: to relax and spend time doing very little – often with a remote or device in hand – and sometimes stealing our much needed sleep).    Something to consider.  I know I can do a lot better with the use of the time that God has given me.

Another passage that struck me was from Proverbs 24:11-12

  “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not he who guards your life know it?  Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

Time for some more heavenly heart weighing.  Do we remember daily that God is weighing our heart?  Would our actions and words look any different if we did? This passage immediately made me think of those who turned a blind eye in Hitler’s Germany or in Martin Luther King, Jr’s America.  But what about today?  Who is God asking you to stand with? Who is God asking you to help rescue?  The unborn?  The friend heading down the wrong road?  The refugee?  The family member denying Christ?  The sex-trafficking victim?

Our world is full of so much pain and sin it is indeed tempting to block it all out and close our eyes pretending we don’t know enough to be held accountable to help.  Re-read the passage above, and see who comes to mind.  Pray, become more informed, pray some more, make a plan of action, pray again and perform a rescue operation!  Perhaps you can’t save the whole world, but you CAN do something.  And remember, your heart will be weighed.

A Few More Little Lessons from Proverbs . . .

On Alcohol – – I touched on this yesterday, but hadn’t read ahead to see that another many verses today would be devoted to the problem of drinking.   It even says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.”  (23:20).   And further down . . . “Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has strife?  Who has complaints?  Who has needless bruises?  Who has bloodshot eyes?  Those who linger over wine ….”(23:29-35).  Who couldn’t use some more woe, sorrow, strife and complaints!   Be wise and steer clear of the dangers involved with drinking.  But, if you ever are looking for more woe, sorrow, strife and complaints, you’ll know you can find it all down the liquor aisle.  “In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (23:32)

On Envy – three times today’s reading warned against being envious of the wicked (23:17, 24:1,19) – with the last verse even adding do not fret because of evil men.   This reminds me of a Psalm I noticed a few weeks ago – it would have fit well into Proverbs.  “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases, for he will take nothing with him when he dies….a man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”  (Psalm 49:16,17,20).  The wicked (rich or poor) are NOT deserving of our envy.  Rather than wishing we could be like them (even a little), perhaps we could even help turn them from death (Proverbs 24:11-12).  Be zealous for the Lord, content with what you have, focused on the goal, and keep seeking wisdom.

God bless your study of His words!
Marcia Railton
(useful apples of gold photo found at http://cubits.org/Strength/thread/view/20332/)

%d bloggers like this: