Johnny runs faster than me.
Suzy has nicer hair than me.
Max has more toys than I do.
Bridgett can do a handstand and I can’t.
We compare ourselves to other people all the time, but not always in healthy ways.
Proverbs spends quite a lot of time making comparisons, especially between the foolish and the wise, the rich and the poor, the harsh and the gentle, judging and loving. It also makes comparisons between the lazy and the diligent.
Laziness, sloth in the KJV, is known as one of the 7 deadly sins. But we don’t talk about it much. In fact it would be interesting to find out how many consider it a sin. We all know lazy people, and odds are we look down on them for their laziness (much as Solomon looks down on them in different parts of these three chapters of Proverbs). Watch you do not judge, lest you be judged by the same standards! Because habitual laziness is not the only way sloth is a sin.
Doing mediocre work, not finishing a job, cutting corners to save time or money, failing to go that extra mile to help someone, watching someone else do a job that is supposed to be yours (like taking out the trash, picking up your laundry or doing the dishes) are all rooted in one way or another in sloth.
The only way to combat sloth is through what Proverbs calls diligence. This is the characteristic of being ready, prepared,sharp as a tack, to display eagerness. It has the quality of fine gold about it as well, it is pure and valuable. Diligence is displayed in someone who is ready for the task and eager to complete it. You don’t have to convince someone who is diligent to work and work well. They want to do a good job and get it done efficiently and timely.
We are called to be diligent people, not just here in the Proverbs in terms of how we live and work, but we are also called to be diligent in the spiritual realm as well. The New Testament is littered with calls to diligence in our Christian lives. Any time you read “persevere”, “stand firm”, “be ready”, “do not fall asleep”, “wake up” in the New Testament, it is a reminder for us to be diligent, to be watchful and ready. 1 Timothy 4;15. 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Revelation 16:15. 1 Corinthians 16:13. James 5:8. Matthew 25:13. All of these scriptures talk about being diligent, watching and being ready.
Diligence takes work my friends, but laziness is a trap easily fallen into. Keep your eyes open!
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 16-18