Practical Advice on how to Live from the Bible
Last week I either made some people feel bad or convicted them – I was talking about speech.
Today we’re going to talk about work. It is a huge part of our lives and the Bible has an enormous amount to say. So if you leave feeling convicted, it’s not me, it’s what the Bible says about it!
Lord, thank You that You gave Your life that we might have life and that You are alive. You are alive tomorrow when we go to work, school, start our work at home – You’re alive. Lord, because of that we can always turn to You and know that You are with us, on our side, and long to bless and encourage us. We have You to turn to at any moment. This morning, open our hearts to hear from You – teach and encourage us through Your word. We make ourselves available to what You would say – Amen.
Proverbs 10: 4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Diligent work – hard work. And this applies to work – our careers – but it goes beyond that - We’re not really looking at careers, per se – as this is true in our families as well – it takes a lot of work. If you think that good relationships just happen, you won’t have good relationships!
Work is also important for church and ministry. Our service for Christ takes hard work.
This also transfers over to our spirituality – our walk with Jesus. This takes diligence and effort.
We’ll combine all of that into one.
Remember, PROVERBS are general principles, they are proverbs! That is why the book is called Proverbs. All the books says something like this
Proverbs = “Generalized statements intended to give advice rather than to establish rigid codes by which God works. They are not absolute promises because they do not take into account every situation and circumstance.” They look at things generally. This is how things generally work – we see it with this one - Proverbs 10: 4 He who has a slack hand (is lazy) becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
We all know lazy people who, by chance or inheritance, have become wealthy.
On the other side of things – if you work hard – you’ll be successful – we all know people who have worked hard and yet some disaster happens and they become poor.
Others have made choices in careers that no matter how hard they work – they may never become wealthy by the world’s standards – but their wealth is in their giving back.
There is also divine intervention – for some reason, God has called some to suffer. It seems like they are doing everything right and yet everything goes wrong. He seems to have called some to a life of poverty.
Outside corruption and influences. In some places you can work as hard as you want and the System will just not allow you to prosper. It is good to remind ourselves of this.
Prov. 10: 4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
There is often a contrast in Proverbs – the diligent hard working person versus the lazy slacker/sluggard ends up a failure in poverty.
Prov. 21:5 The plans of the diligent [lead] surely to plenty, But [those] [of] everyone [who] [is] hasty, surely to poverty.
It is not just WORKING hard, but engaging with the mind – think and plan before you begin your work. That comes into it – thinking, planning out – looking ahead in life. How will this end up when I take this course in my career, family, or church?
Hasty – impulsive – one who doesn’t plan ahead. The prudent sees evil and hides himself. He realizes, if I get into this circumstance, things won’t work out. Before making a decision, he is able to have insight and think through the outcomes.
Researchers have discovered – it is not so much – This came out ten years or so ago – IQ and EQ – EQ – the ability to put off rewards – delayed gratification people succeed more. I think this is the same for all of us. If we have to satisfy our desires now, it causes us to make improper decisions with our lives.
4 The lazy [man] will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and [have] nothing.
The lazy man is unwilling to prepare – to be timely in what he needs to do. Before you can reap, you have to prepare. This is simple – if you want to have a garden, you can’t go out in August to plant tomato seeds! At least here in Ohio.
The sluggard – not only does he not prepare – he does not understand cause and effect. They don’t get that the decision process has results in a person’s life.
Poverty and the welfare system – there was a study – how to ensure that you stay in poverty – if you are part of the welfare system – if you have children out of wedlock, you rarely get out. There is cause; and there is effect. And we need to understand this in every area of our lives.
If we communicate improperly, it will damage the relationship. We can look at our spiritual lives – if we don’t set aside time for God, we will wonder why we don’t feel close to God – there is cause and effect.
Do the hard stuff first! Whatever you do, do the hard stuff first! Get it done, out the way – and you can go do the other stuff. Save before buying – it is the same principle! Don’t buy the 50 inch flatscreen on credit – save first!
Go to the ant… you etymologists!
Prov. 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, [And] gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
The ant shows up! If you watch an ant farm or hill – they are just out there working, doing what needs to be done.
Prov 12: 24 The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy [man] will be put to forced labor.
These are extremes – ruling and forced labor – but he is doing this to stress the importance of hard work, because it ends up with extreme consequences. The Bible speaks of a good strong work ethic.
When he talks about forced labor, that is what happened to those in difficult financial situations – for us we might look at it as debt. Again, these are general principles that don’t take into account all circumstances. There is a significant amount of debt in this country – and we should follow these principles.
27 The lazy [man] does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence [is] man's precious possession.
It is like leaving your groceries at the counter! Finish what you start! Simple principles we teach our kids but often fail in our own lives.
I remember Cindy drilling into our kids’ (and my) minds – “Get the project done before moving on to the next thing!” - It is the same in so many situations – it might be journaling or having a quiet time or going to bible study – we start but then let it drop off.
Prov. 26: 13 The lazy [man] says, "[There] [is] a lion in the road! A fierce lion [is] in the streets!" 14 [As] a door turns on its hinges, So [does] the lazy [man] on his bed. 15 The lazy [man] buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy [man] [is] wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.
There is a lion in the streets! It is always someone else’s fault. The sluggard is a person of fear and fear stops work. The sluggard is a person of pride and self-deception. These proverbs are so amazing – because they are so true even today.
Ecclesiastes – another wisdom book –
18 Because of laziness the building decays, And through idleness of hands the house leaks.
The Bible speaks of general maintenance!
What is your maintenance like with your health? Diet, exercise, stress levels? Do you perform regular maintenance?
Relationships require regular maintenance. You need some consistent time away – it will be less when you have small children, but you need to figure it out!
Think of all the other things in relationships that need maintenance – I don’t need to go into that.
10: 10 If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success.
Not only should we work hard – but work smart – we need to sharpen our edge – we need to learn and be growing – learning from sharp edges. We do this in our career – we try to keep a sharp edge.
Spiritually – do you keep a sharp edge? It is like sport – I knew a guy who was a pastor – but he was at one time a professional golfer. He hit 20 balls – 18 of them were within 5 yards of the pin – 2 were 20 yards away – and he said – that is why I am no longer on the tour. He lost his edge. We need to practice our spiritual disciplines – read the Bible, pray.
Prov. 11: 25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.
Hard work and success without generosity = greed.
As Christians – we need to be generous.
Colossians 3: 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ
He is speaking to people who were slaves – those who had no option to advance – not an option to obtain wealth – but even when there is no opportunity for advancement and success – do it all as unto the Lord – You are not working for TheMan – or the boss – but for Jesus. This should change our attitudes at our jobs – we are working for Jesus.
Phil. 2: 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure
With all this diligence and hard work – it ties back to our salvation and relationship with God. He doesn’t say work FOR your salvation – you have your salvation by grace through faith – but work OUT your salvation – through diligence and effort, hard work, - and then applying those to our spiritual lives and walk with Christ – that will make you successful. How hard do you work at your relationship with God – do you give it maintenance?