Beloved: Grace and Peace
Elkmont Baptist Church
Dearest and Beloved
Sluggard vs. Diligence
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me start by saying that I have no one in mind but myself as I write this. One morning I awoke with the following words in my mind, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard." I knew these words were from Proverbs.
Grace to you.
Go to the ant, thou
gathereth her food
in the harvest. How long shalt thou sleep, O
; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no
guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer,
? when wilt thou arise out of
a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So
shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.
- Proverbs 6:6-11 (bold added)
The "sluggard" or slothful man", as the Hebrew is sometimes translated (Proverbs 12:27), needs someone to tell him what to do (ruler), someone to show him how to do it (guide), and someone to ensure that he does it and does it right (overseer). The sluggard will not do that which is necessary without that. (I can't tell you how often I see that kind of behavior at work and in our nations.) The "ant", however, does what is necessary (provides her meat, gathers her food) when it is time (in the summer and in the harvest).
The sluggard has trouble getting out of bed and getting started. As we will see, the sluggard has trouble doing even that which is necessary for living.
Parents and grandparents, I wish to suggest that we do not do our children a service by letting them only work on what they enjoy doing. All children when little need to be told what to do, to be guided in the doing of it, and to be watched over until they complete it. This is part of training and part of growing up. After a while though, they should learn to see what needs doing, know how to do what needs doing, and be able to complete the task without being watched over.
If you are like me and see some of the sluggard's characteristics in yourself, let's go to the ant and become wise.
"The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the
shall be under tribute"
(Proverbs 12:24; bold added). The one who works diligently (think Joseph) shall be in charge. The one who is slothful will be forced to work. The Hebrew word here is sometimes translated "deceitful" (Strong's H7423). The slothful will not be characterized by truthfulness. Notice that sloth is contrasted with diligence.
roastest not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a
precious" (Proverbs 12:27; bold added). The slothful man does that
which he likes or enjoys (hunting), but will not do that which is necessary if he does not enjoy it. That which the diligent has is precious to him because he has worked for it. We value what we have to work for.
"The way of the
an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous
made plain" (Proverbs 15:19; bold added). To the slothful man everything is hard (especially when he doesn't want to do the task), but the righteous man's way is level. The hardest job to finish is the one which is never started.
"He also that is
in his work is brother to him that is a great waster"
(Proverbs 18:9; bold added). The Hebrew word translated "waster" is elsewhere translated "destroy or corrupt" (Strong's H4889). To be slothful is to be related to the one destroys or corrupts. If slothful in putting food away, it spoils.
"The desire of the
killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor" (Proverbs 21:25;
bold added). Because he won't work for what he desires, he will seek to get it by other means which will lead to his death.
I once went over these verses with my daughters, telling them how I struggle. But also reminding them that God never shows us something except He is about to enable us to overcome.
Matthew 25:14-30 records the Lord's words concerning the talents. He contrasts the two servants, "thou good and faithful servant" with the third, "thou wicked and slothful servant." We can understand that slothfulness is characteristic of wickedness.
in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;" (Romans 12:11; bold
added). Paul tells us that we should not be slothful in business. The word for business is elsewhere translated "diligence" (Romans 12:8). Whatever we do, we should do it with diligence. ("Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do
with thy might . . ."
"That ye be not
, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit
the promises" (Hebrews 6:12; bold added). The writer of Hebrews tells us that we should not be slothful, and that faith and patience are necessary to inherit God's promises. To be diligent is to walk in faith and patience.
Let me give you a word of testimony. I used to struggle quite often with a phyical issue. I remember so clearly in March of 2006, my physical issue began afflicting me. It was like a switch turned off in me. It was so bad that I asked the Lord if it was unto death. He quickly told me, "No." But over the years that followed, I wondered, and sometimes I wanted to die. I found great comfort in the Psalms where He showed me that He would make room for me in my distress (". . . thou hast enlarged me
when I was
. . ." (Psalm 4:1)) and He did. He told me that He has healed me ("O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou has healed me" (Psalm 30:2)). So I began confessing back to Him that He has healed me. As I believed, I now see. In February 2009, after almost three years, it was like a switch was turned on in my body, and my physical issue reversed and that aspect of my body worked better than I remember in my whole life. I have waited to tell you to be sure. By faith (in Him and in His promises), and with patience (by His faithfulness), I have inherited His promise that He has healed me.
By faith and patience we become good and faithful servants, not slothful in business, serving the Lord.
Let us now look at the counterpart to the slothful - the
. Proverbs 10:4 says,
"He becometh poor that dealeth
a slack hand: but the hand of the
rich" (bold added). Proverbs 13:4 tells us, "The soul of the sluggard desireth and
nothing: but the soul of the
shall be made fat" (bold added). The New King
James Version translate "fat" as "rich." Diligence makes a man successful.
We have already looked at Proverbs 12:24 which says, "The hand of the
shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute" (bold added). Diligence is required to lead. (See Romans 12:8.)
roastesth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a
precious" (Proverbs 12:27; bold added). The diligent man takes care
of his possessions because he has worked for them. How do we take care of our possessions? Are we diligent?
"The thoughts of the
only to plenteousness; but of every one
only to want" (Proverbs 21:5; bold added). The thoughts or plans of the diligent lead to profit, plenteousness, and preeminence. Hasty decisions, on the other hand, lead only to want.
Proverbs 22:29 says, "Seest thou a man
in his business? he shall stand
before kings; he shall not stand before mean
" (bold added). The diligent will be
noticed. Proverbs 27:23-24 says, "Be thou
to know the state of thy flocks,
look well to thy herds. For riches
not forever: and doth the crown
Flocks and herds were the business in an agrarian society. The application to us is that whatever business we are in, if we will become diligent, we will succeed. We must become characterized by diligence or success will flee. Is not diligence a character quality to learn?
[computer software] . Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation.
Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.
Meyers, R. (2005). e-Sword.
®. (1982). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.
New King James Version
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- a series compilation