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Opener: What does Proverbs have to say about work? Funny thing. As this post was coming up, I was so busy with work I had very little time to prep. But even in my lack of preparation, the Lord left me with two truths I’d like to share, and one is pretty powerful (and convicting).
Motivation for Work – Avoiding Sloth and Embracing Blessing
Proverbs – Week 6
I had the privilege of teaching through some of the themes in Proverbs this summer. Over a course of seven weeks, I will summarize what I learned and post it here on Life Letter Cafe. For additional posts, check out my Life Letter Cafe author page. In true Proverbs fashion, I want to keep each of these points short, punchy, and powerful. If you hang with me for the entire seven weeks, you will notice that each of these posts are alliterative, and they employ an inclusio (opening phrase repeated at the end). These are just two of the many literary devices that Proverbs utilizes to make its wisdom memorable. This week’s truth? Motivation for work by avoiding sloth and embracing blessing.
The Truth in Proverbs about Work:
While studying for this week’s lesson, I (conveniently) happened to be traveling for work. With very little time to prep, I prayed that God would give me the words to say. As I meditated on what Proverbs has to say about work, I was struck by just how much it warns against laziness. There are several passages concerning the “sluggard.” One commentary (Kidner, Proverbs, 42-44) characterizes the sluggard by noting that he:
- will not begin things (Proverbs 6:9-10);
- does not finish things (Proverbs 12:27, 19:24, 26:15);
- refuses to face things (Proverbs 26:16);
- and, consequently, he is restless (Proverbs 13:14, 21:25-26).
The remedy for this sort of laziness is to go to the ant and emulate her ways (Proverbs 6:6). In other word . . . work hard AND work smart.
But my primary conviction (while stressing and hurriedly prepping for this lesson) was about attitude. I was convicted that far too often we take the things which God has called blessings—the very things we have been going over in this study—our spouses, our children, our money, and (now) our jobs—and we allow Satan to turn them into non-blessings—items of anxiety. Anxiety, worry, stress, and fear or apathy, annoyance, and frustration/anger are all from the enemy. Too often he turns them towards those things which God has put in our lives as good gifts. I think we need to spend some time confessing and repenting with one another about this. I know I sure do.
Finding Christ in Proverbs
Jesus was no sluggard! He trusted in God for the energy and stamina to pursue His calling, and He knew when to rest. He found joy in His calling, and He thanked His heavenly Father for the blessings (even when those blessings caused suffering). The only way he could do this was through absolute dependence upon His heavenly Father, otherwise His calling would have absolutely overwhelmed Him. Just think of what Satan tempts Him with. It was all things to attempt to fulfill His calling in His own power. Think of the night He is betrayed. It was only through the sustaining power of Jesus’ dependence on the Father that allowed Him the strength to say, “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
To what has God called you? (Hint, too often we look for some mystical “calling.” Instead, think about where He has placed you in this season of life)
Are you striving and churning to work out this calling in your own strength? Could God be calling you to something else that you are fighting?
What would it require for you to trust God with these things?
For next steps on how to shift your dependence more fully onto your heavenly Father, see chapters 1-3 of my book The Relational God:
A more detailed investigation and outline of each of these themes in Proverbs can be found on my blog:
For additional posts, check out my Life Letter Cafe author page.