Don’t let the harsh language of the two verses in today’s reading fool you. I tend to read verses like these and think, well, I’m not lazy, or, I’m not a sluggard, so this doesn’t really apply to me. While it’s true that these verses depict a person whose life is defined by laziness, the principles these verses teach are applicable to us all and can benefit anyone.
My wife and I have the ability to check our daughter’s grades online. One afternoon we checked and learned that her grade in math had taken a turn for the worse. After asking her about it, we learned that she had failed to complete and turn in a couple assignments and got so stressed out at amount of work she now needed to complete that she just froze up and stopped working at all. Luckily her teachers were understanding and she was able to make up the work she had missed. Without the drive for diligence, we can become easily overwhelmed and even paralyzed with anxiety and fear.
Proverbs 10:4 depicts the idea of diligence. Diligence is the practice of working carefully and persistently. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work my job entails I can get almost frozen by the enormity of the task. In those moments you have to make a choice; you can let the size of the task paralyze you, or, you can meet it head on.
We’ve all heard the phrase “How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time.” The truth is, when a project is too big, we have to start by breaking it down into smaller pieces. But even that won’t ultimately accomplish the job, because to finish the job, we have to complete each of those pieces. This is the idea of diligence in action. Don’t stop. Just keep working steadily till the job or jobs are done.
The Proverbs 20:4 on the other hand is all about timing. Often we can feel smothered by responsibilities but a major part of this stress is due to timing. The bible says there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. If you don’t plant on time then the harvest will not be on time. If you don’t start your work at the proper time then you cannot expect to have it complete at the proper time. Having a clear understanding on what “season” you are in, should help you know what work should currently be done. Often how well you start can play an important role in how well you finish.
There are many stressors in life that we have little if any control over, but there are some that we cause by the way we work, or by our lack of diligence. If you are stressed today, ask yourself, is it possible that some of your stress is self-imposed?
Breakthrough Busyness by Nick Cleveland
The Best Yes: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa Terkeurst