Category Archives: Work

Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


Pure D Lazy

Proverbs 19:24

“A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.”

“Pure D”

We say things a little differently here in the South. We say things like “darn toot’n,” “dadgum,” and “y’all.” Occasionally we use the colloquial adjective/adverb-like thingy, “pure D.” Let me give you a few examples of its usage:

  • Dadgum! Did you see her? She was pure D ugly!
  • See’dat John Deer [tractor] over there? That’s a pure D piece’a art, right there.
  • She knows how to fry okra AND drive a truck? Son, that’s a pure D gift from God, I’m tellin’ ya.

Pure D can also be used in a sentence describing the man in Proverbs 19:24. “See that feller with his hand in his shirt? Ain’t moved it a lick. That’s just pure D lazy.”

Slothful

Slothfulness is just pure D laziness, and this verse epitomizes the lazy, slothful bum who won’t even lift a finger to help himself.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “God helps those who help themselves.” That saying is actually unbiblical to the core, for God loves to help those who can’t help themselves. Lazy people, however, should not count on God’s intervention.

Those who have the ability to take care of themselves, but are too lazy to lift their hands in effort, are not to be pitied, but warned of the judgment of God. And that’s the pure D truth.

Lord, help us to be faithful stewards of the strength and opportunities you give us. Bless our labor, not our laziness. Teach us, dear Father, to number our days.


Living in Sleepyland?

Proverbs 19:15 

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
Lazy people sleep soundly, but idleness leaves them hungry. (NLT)

Mr Lazy

tumblr_m6wo83BzTd1r4ya7po1_500I remember reading a book entitled ‘Mr Lazy’ to my children. Mr Lazy lived in Sleepyland where the birds flew so slowly that they fell out of the sky sometimes. One afternoon Mr Lazy fell asleep in his garden while waiting for his bread to toast for breakfast. He was woken by two gentlemen shouting; “WAKE UP!” He opened his eyes to find Mr Busy and Mr Bustle standing in front of him. They set about giving Mr Lazy many tasks in an attempt to change his life. But it was all a dream and Mr Lazy didn’t have to change his life. Or did he?

Work/Rest Balance

There always needs to be a balance between work and rest. Work too much and rest too little and we may face burn out or depression. Even Jesus took time off, and He made sure the disciples took time off too (Mark 6:30-32). But there is a big difference between justifiable rest and bone idleness.

Idle Souls

The KJV states that an ‘idle soul shall suffer hunger.’ While that may seem like an obvious statement, is Solomon linking failure to work with hunger, or is there a deeper meaning here? How about a hunger of the soul? I wonder how many followers of Jesus have hungry souls? Walking with Jesus is like any relationship – it requires investment, and it requires our time and commitment. All this comes on top of everything else we have to do. Consider the disciples. They had to invest a significant amount of time, and make some pretty substantial sacrifices, before they qualified as apostles. Even the process of waiting for Pentecost required an investment in prayer.

WAKE UP!

We need to carry out a spiritual stock-take to determine whether we have hungry souls. Are we Mr or Mrs Lazy living in Spiritual Sleepyland waiting for a wake up call? What will it take for God to get our attention? What will it take for us to make time for Jesus?


Just Imagine

Proverbs 16:30 

“He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.”

Mental Image

I would like for you to try to picture something in your mind. In other words, I want you to imagine the appearance of someone fitting the description of this verse.

Shutteth. It is not hard to paint a picture in your mind of someone shutting his eyes, right? So imagine a man sitting in a comfy chair, leaning his head back, and closing his eyes. Can you see him? Now, instead of just shutting his eyes, imagine them shut tightly, not just closed. He is thinking, pondering, planning, and scheming. Evil is on his mind.

Moving. Now, imagine this man’s lips as being tight, pursed, or pinched. According to Strong’s Concordance, the original Hebrew word meant “to narrow, form, nip, pinch, squeeze, wink, purse,” so his are lips of determination.

Reality

Now that you have imagined it, look around. Look at the faces of those committing determined acts of evil. What do you see?

What this verse in Proverbs describes is a person who contemplates evil plans, then sets out with determination to carry them out. How sad.

Be the Opposite

Now that you have a picture of what not to be, why not be the opposite?

What if each one of us took the time to plan good deeds the way the ungodly plans evil? What if we sat back with our eyes closed and took the time to contemplate ways in which we could bring glory to our Creator?

Then, instead of just thinking about it, what would it be like if each of us grit our teeth, narrowed our lips, and set out with determination to accomplish what we’d planned?

Evil triumphs when the good do nothing.


Don’t Hate ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Proverbs 14:24

“The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.”

 Class Warfare

One of the greatest tools of the powerful is to prey on the jealous tendencies of men and women. The ones seeking votes pit the rich against the (perceived) poor and create something called class warfare. In order to manipulate votes they try to make the poor think that their lives will improve if the rich are punished for being wealthy, or “make ’em pay!

In the last national election I heard things like, “Rich people don’t need all that money,” and “We need to tax the wealthy in order to provide for the poor.” I even heard a teenager essentially say of Mitt Romney, “He’s nothin’ but a rich (anal orifice) that wants to take away our food stamps!

Don’t Blame the Rich

This proverb doesn’t condemn the rich, however; it praises them. Actually, it praises the wise who become wealthy by saying that their riches are tangible evidence of their wisdom.

Many times the poor are tempted to come up with all kinds of reasons to hate people with more money. They accuse them of all kinds of things, from unjustly inheriting fortunes to steeling from elderly. The jealous and envious run around condemning the rich, while hypocritically wishing they were sailing on the same yacht.

What the “fools” of this proverb fail to understand is that the wise are wealthy because of wise choices. The poor, on the other hand, are poor because of foolish choices.

Choices and Consequences

It has been addressed before, but choices lead to consequences. When we make poor choices regarding money we end up poorer. When we make wise choices we are better off in the end.

For instance, most millionaires in America became wealthy as the result of long, hard work and taking calculated risks. They rarely drive the newest cars, wear the most fancy watches, or live in the biggest houses. Instead of sports cars, according to a book called The Millionaire Next Door, the most common vehicle driven by a millionaire was a used Ford truck. And instead of flashing a Rolex, most wear watches that cost lest than $200.

But as for the “foolish,” well, that’s a totally different story. Instead of working hard, they try hard not to work. Instead of investing in the future, they waste multiple thousands on tobacco, partying, tattoos, lottery tickets, check advances, booze, big screen TV’s, bass boats, jewelry, cell phones, and even wheels that cost more than the cars they drive.

So, the next time you find yourself hating those crowned with riches, take a look at your own investment portfolio. Instead of hating the wise, why not learn from them?


Little Is Much

Proverbs 13:23

“Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.”
“A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.” NIV

We Complain 

Many times we complain about what we don’t have rather than thank God for what we do have. Have you ever complained about how small your house is, how old your car is, or how out of style your clothes are?  Sure you have. And you know, of course, that there are plenty of people out there who don’t even have a roof to sleep under, much less a new car or stylish clothes.

It might be a shock to you, but even pastors (ministers, preachers, bishops) have times when they complain about the “field” they are called to plow. I have done it. I even did it today, right before I read Proverbs 13:23.

We Whine

Today [at the time of this writing] we had a death in our church. The loss of this key member has been a blow to all of our congregation. And being that our numbers are small, the loss of any member is painful, especially when growth has been extremely slow.

At one point I began to feel anxious. I asked God, “How can we grow a church if our younger adults start dying?” I thought to myself, “If we lose many more, we won’t be able to pay our utility bills, not to mention the little I get to feed my family.” For a moment I considered this field too small for even a minimal harvest.

No Excuses

Then I read this proverb. Then I read what the wise Matthew Henry had to say. Then I felt ashamed.

See…[how] a small estate may be improved by industry, so that a man, by making the best of every thing, may live comfortably upon it: Much food is in the tillage of the poor, the poor farmers, that have but a little, but take pains with that little and husband it well. Many make it an excuse for their idleness that they have but a little to work on, a very little to be doing with; but the less compass the field is of the more let the skill and labour of the owner be employed about it, and it will turn to a very good account. Let him dig, and he needs not beg.[1]

Sounds like I need to just get back out in the field and turn the soil, doesn’t it? A small field can be full of produce if worked well and wisely. It is those who complain that let a harvest waste away.

Like the old song says, “Little is much when God is in it...”

Dear Heavenly Father, strengthen our hands and energize our hearts for the work. The fields are truly white unto harvest, so who are we kidding? We just need to work a little harder to bring it in.

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 13:23.


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


All Hands On Deck!

Proverbs 12:24

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

Hard Work Never Hurt Anyone!

Ever had a lazy day? Did you feel better afterwards? Perhaps you did. Perhaps you followed one lazy day with another. We are told that there are people in society who live like this. Certain elements of the media in the UK regularly feature stories of large lazy families who spend their lives doing nothing, apparently encouraged and supported by the welfare state. It is wrong to condemn those who may have to rely on welfare in difficult economic times, but it is hard to understand those individuals who just don’t want to work.

Working for God

Scripture tells us to do everything as if we were doing it for God (Colossians 3:23). This instruction should apply equally to every aspect of our daily lives whether we are at work, at home, at church, or socializing with friends, etc. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that laziness is acceptable. So why are there so many passengers in church?

All Hands on Deck

Think of church as a working ship. If the church is the body of Christ then there can be no passengers. We are called to work together for the advancement of God’s kingdom. If all we do is occupy a seat every Sunday morning then the warning about slothfulness contained in this proverb needs to be heeded. In a working ship there is no room for the slothful. Every person has a job. Every job is important. While the captain is ultimately in command he cannot sail without a crew. A ship needs watch-keeping officers and engineers, deckhands and catering staff. It is vital that the right skills are exercised in the correct places, and it is important that all members of the crew are diligent in their work. Is your church a working ship or a passenger liner where half the people on board are on permanent vacation?


I’m a Word Farmer

Proverbs 12:14

“A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.”

Word Farming

It should come as no shock to anyone that I use words on a daily basis. I talk, write, sing, preach, teach, and even counsel second-graders on my school bus regarding their poor dating choices (but that’s a different story).

I am a word farmer, and my mouth could be compared to one of those big machine-thingys (non-farmer terminology) that spreads seed across a field. From morning till evening I am like a John Deere pulling a seed drill (farmer terminology), planting row after row of something that should grow.

The hope is that whatever I am planting will produce a good harvest. And if I am planting good seed, then I will be satisfied with the “good fruit.”

Don’t Work, Don’t Eat

But it is important that we pay attention to the negative side of this, not just  the “fruitful” positive. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 12:14 reads, “Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.

What happens when we don’t plant? What happens when we don’t work? What happens when the farmer parks his tractor, sleeps late, and watches television all day? Plants don’t grow, no one is satisfied, and grown men end up watching the Lifetime Channel.

Rewards are the result of effort; harvests are the result of planting. To be satisfied with good from the fruit of your mouth, you’ve got to plant seed. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Just be careful of the seed you plant, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” – Isaiah 3:10-11 ESV