‘I went by the field of the lazy man.’ Proverbs 24:30 NKJV
It is better to be short-handed than to hire a sluggard; better to have nobody than a lazy body. Evidently, Solomon had suffered through a few sluggards on his payroll: ‘As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man.’ (Proverbs 10:26 NKJV) You know how irritating vinegar is when it’s taken straight, or how aggravating smoke is when it gets in your eyes! That’s how irritating a lazy person is to the one who hires him. Whatever he does will take twice as long to finish, and will either have to be done over or thrown out—at twice the cost. His presence on the job is worse than his absence. He wastes his own resources and everybody else’s. A tragic picture is painted in Proverbs 24:30–31 NKJV: ‘I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.’ Now let’s be clear here: we must show compassion towards those who are down and out for legitimate reasons. But they need more than a handout; they need a hand up! They need more than food and clothes; they need purpose, dignity, and self-worth. And that’s what God wants us to give them. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t great because he was born in a log cabin; he was great because he got out of it. Now, the chances are you won’t end up in the White House, but unless you want to end up in the poorhouse, don’t be a sluggard!
‘The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold.’ Proverbs 20:4 NKJV
The sluggard sees an obstacle in every opportunity. Though he can’t hold down a job, there’s always a good excuse. The hours are too long, the pay is too little, the work is too hard, people are too demanding—take your pick. And don’t worry, if you don’t like any of those excuses the sluggard has plenty more. Have you heard the one about the lion? Solomon writes, ‘The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”’(Proverbs 22:13 NKJV)
Thomas Edison, the epitome of a worker and the very opposite of a sluggard, said, ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.’ A sluggard is never without an excuse. It’s always too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry to work. ‘The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold.’ If sluggards harmed only themselves it would be one thing, but they hurt everybody else too. ‘He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.’(Proverbs 18:9 NKJV)
Chuck Swindoll says: ‘That word “destroys” pulsates with liabilities. A lazy employee doesn’t simply hold an organization back; he destroys its motivation and drive. A lazy player doesn’t just weaken the team; he destroys its spirit and diminishes its will to win. A lazy pastor doesn’t merely limit a church, he destroys its enthusiasm, its passion to win souls and meet needs. Before long, everyone must do more to compensate for the sluggard’s negative influence.’ So again, the word for you today is: don’t be a sluggard!
‘How long will you slumber, O sluggard?’ Proverbs 6:9 NKJV
The sluggard never does today what he can put off until tomorrow, and he never does tomorrow what he can put off forever. His favorite work day is—tomorrow. That’s why God asks, ‘How long will you slumber, O sluggard?’When someone is capable of working and jobs are available, you may be talking to a sluggard if you’re continually asking, ‘How long are you going to take off between jobs?’ Or, ‘When are you going to look for another job?’ The story’s told of a college student who was trying to decide whether or not he should study. He grabbed a coin, flipped it, and in mid-air said, ‘Heads, I’m going to the movies. Tails, I’m going to watch TV. And if it stands on its edge—I’m going to study!’ Incidentally, some sluggards are even too lazy to flip the coin! A sluggard is a person who’s always going to ‘get around to doing the job’, but never ‘gets around’ to ‘getting around’. Parent, teach your children that when a job is to be started is as important as when it is to be completed. A child’s favorite response to a command is often, ‘In just a minute.’ Don’t start buying it, or you’ll be paying forever. Teach your kids that ‘now’ means now, and ‘finish’ means don’t turn the TV—or computer—back on until the job’s done. This is an important truth because as one leader said, ‘When you do what you have to do when you have to do it, then you get to do what you want to do when you want to do it.’
‘Go to the ant, you sluggard!’ Proverbs 6:6 NKJV
What exactly is a sluggard? Robert Hicks says, ‘Feeling we’re entitled to things without being willing to do the necessary labor to obtain them makes us a society of sluggards.’ There’s one thing you’ll never convince the sluggard of: that he’s a sluggard. ‘The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.’ (Proverbs 26:16 NKJV) Even if seven wise men tell him he’s lazy, he will not admit it—no matter if he’s outnumbered seven to one. You can tell a sluggard, but you can’t tell him much. ‘The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.’(Proverbs 21:25 NKJV) A sluggard’s two favorite words are ‘one day’. You can hear him or her saying, ‘One day I’m going to hit it big.’ Or, ‘One day I’m going to own my own business.’ Or, ‘One day I’m going to…’ (you fill in the blank)! He or she always has an excuse as to why they can’t work. That’s the meaning of Solomon’s statement: ‘The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.’ (Proverbs 15:19 NKJV) When the sluggard looks out the front door of life, he doesn’t see a highway of opportunity, he only sees one big briar patch. Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, ‘I never knew a man who was good at making excuses, who was good at anything else.’ Bottom line: the sluggard would rather make an excuse than make a living. So the word for you today is: don’t be a sluggard!
‘Grow in grace.’ 2 Peter 3:18 KJV
Every day you live you’ll be presented with opportunities to ‘grow in grace’.And you must always be open and receptive to them. A grandmother celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary shared the secret of her long and happy relationship: ‘On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults, which for the sake of our marriage I would overlook. I never did get around to listing any. Each time he did something I didn’t like, I’d say to myself, “Lucky for him that’s one of the ten!”’ Now there’s a very wise lady!
Physical intimacy may bring us together, but growing in grace will keep us together. So when someone upsets you, instead of responding with angry words or angry silence, remind yourself that God is giving you another opportunity to ‘grow in grace’. And if you don’t do too well with some of the opportunities He sends, don’t worry, He will keep sending more until you get it right! Resentment is one of the most expensive luxuries you can indulge in. A deep-seated grudge eats away at your peace of mind like deadly cancer destroying a vital organ. In fact, there are few things as sad as a person who has harbored a grudge for years. Without forgiveness, life becomes an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation. One of the secrets to a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody, everything, every night before you go to bed. It’s the key to having personal peace. So, start getting serious about the Bible admonition: ‘Grow in grace.’
‘Do you see this woman?’ Luke 7:44 NKJV
Luke writes: ‘Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”’ (Luke 7:37–39 NKJV)
This scene took place in the house of Simon, a religious leader who was more concerned about ‘right and wrong’ than he was about hurting people. He may have been theologically correct, but he lacked compassion. And Jesus confronted him about it! ‘He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”’ Simon saw her as a sinner and a loser. But not Jesus. He responded to the gift she brought and to the heart of love behind it. In determining her future potential to God’s Kingdom, He didn’t consult her sordid past or even refer to it. He saw her tears, understood her need, and shocked the religious crowd that day by saying, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ (Luke 7:48 NKJV) Be careful: when you’ve been in church for a while and forgotten what it’s like to be on the outside, you can become hard-hearted and fail to show the love of God to those who need it.
‘To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given.’ Ephesians 3:8 NKJV
One day the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery. The law of Moses was clear; she must be stoned. And the Pharisees were ready to do it. This woman probably thought that Jesus, being righteous, would agree. She had no lawyer to defend her, not even a character witness! But suddenly Jesus stops and begins to write in the sand. Some scholars think that perhaps He wrote down their sins, including times and places. When He looks up, the woman’s accusers have gone. He says to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ (John 8:11 NKJV) That day Jesus lifted her from a position of undeniable guilt to one of unconditional pardon. She didn’t deserve it; she didn’t even know it was possible. And that’s your story too, isn’t it? One day Abraham Lincoln watched a plantation owner bidding for a slave girl. Figuring he was going to buy her and abuse her, Lincoln paid the price to set her free. ‘Does this mean I can go wherever I want to go?’ she asked. Lincoln said, ‘Yes, you’re free!’ With tears streaming down her face, she replied, ‘Then, sir, I will go with you.’ The word ‘grace’ is so important Paul mentions it three times more than any other writer. Remembering the violent life he lived, he writes, ‘To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given.’ The word ‘grace’ comes from the Greek word Charis, meaning ‘pure joy’. Although you don’t deserve it, God considers saving you to be a ‘pure joy’.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God. Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV
The Bible says: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.’ (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) That Scripture is easy to quote but hard to live by, especially when tragedy and loss touch our lives and we don’t understand why.
There are times when we pray and God gives us answers, and there are times when we pray and He gives us peace. ‘Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT) In times of pain and loss, here are two Scriptures you can stand on:
(1) ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us.’ When it comes to understanding things—we have our territory and God has His. And ours is limited to what He decides to reveal to us. Paul, who wrote half the New Testament by divine revelation, acknowledged, ‘We know in part.’ (1 Corinthians 13:9 NKJV) At best, we will always be limited in our understanding.
(2) ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28 NKJV). Sometimes God explains things to us, and other times He stamps them ‘Will explain later.’ So when you’re tempted to throw up your hands in despair and say, ‘Who knows?’, remind yourself, ‘God knows!’ And today remind yourself that He’s working things out for your good and His glory.
‘Be strong and of good courage.’ Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
Any time you attempt something for the first time, or something you’ve failed at before, or something you think is too big for you, you’ll experience both fear and faith. They go together. One will win out over the other, but they never go away. Because Israel had no idea what challenges awaited them or what life would be like in the Promised Land, God told them, ‘Be strong and of good courage…for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.’ And today that’s His promise to you too! It’s fear of failure that stops us most of the time. Yet as you look back, you realize that most times failure doesn’t do permanent damage at all; you actually grow through it.
Author Katherine Paterson says, ‘To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you and swing you around by the tail is another,’ and John Maxwell adds: ‘We all have fears. The question is whether we are going to control them or allow them to control us.’ To go anywhere, you must launch out from somewhere, or you’ll get nowhere. American essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie said, ‘The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had the means, time, influence, and educational advantages, but what he will do with the things he has.’ So, confront your fear, step out in faith, and believe God for success.
‘Man is tested by the praise he receives.’ Proverbs 27:21 NIV
The English word flatterer comes from a French term that means ‘to pat, smooth, or caress’. So a flatterer is someone who will pat you on the back with one hand and, in some cases, knife you in the back with the other. Flattery is something a person will say to your face but will not say behind your back. It’s insincere praise from an insincere motive. And the Bible warns us to beware of it: ‘To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.’(Proverbs 29:5 NLT) Flatterers will do you no good. In fact, Solomon says that in the long run you’re better off with a person who will criticize you than a person who will flatter you. ‘He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters.’ (Proverbs 28:23 NKJV) When it comes to flattery you should always keep these two things in mind:
(1) Give praise sparingly but sincerely, with nothing but the best in mind for the other person.
(2) Receive praise wisely, without taking yourself or the person giving the praise too seriously.
Always remember that flattery was the weapon that Satan used to bring Adam and Eve down in the Garden of Eden: ‘You will be like God.’ (Genesis 3:5 NKJV) That’s why Solomon writes, ‘The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.’ So, the question you should always ask yourself when someone praises you is this: does this make me more big-headed or more big-hearted?