This devotional series examines a verse or two from each chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. ~Proverbs 6:10-11
Work and rest are themes we find in scripture from beginning to end. When God first made mankind, he tasked us with working. We were meant to rule over the earth in his image, cultivating the ground and caring for creation. Work was written into the fabric of humanity from the start. (Genesis 1-2)
Work will also be something we do in eternity with Jesus. Eternity isn’t a 24/7 song sing or worship service. We will worship and praise God, and we will do it in a way that is unhindered, but we will also have work. Creation is going to be restored and we will rule with Jesus over this new creation (Revelation 21-22, cf. 2 Timothy 2:12).
We might groan at the idea of work, but that’s because we live in a work marred by humanity’s fall into sin. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God cursed the ground so weeds and thorns would grow. No longer was work pleasant, but by the sweat of our brow we cultivate the ground. That doesn’t mean that good jobs don’t exist. It does mean that even the best jobs in this world pale in comparison to the goodness and sweetness of work before the fall.
This goodness and sweetness is the very thing Jesus will restore to our labors after he returns.
In the meantime, we tend to abuse work in two ways. Either we overwork, neglecting family, rest, God, and/or church, and wear ourselves out (Solomon speaks against this elsewhere: Proverbs 23:4, Ecclesiastes 2:24); or we underwork, goofing off, being lazy, or trying to get by with the bare minimum. That is what Solomon warns against in Proverbs 6.
We cannot say that all poverty is rooted in laziness, for some is found through circumstances, national economics, health, etc., but laziness very often leads to poverty. In whatever our labor, a good work ethic is honoring to Jesus, and a poor work ethic is sin. After all, though we have human bosses, Jesus is our ultimate boss and we are to work to please him above all others (Colossians 3:22-25). When we keep this in mind, we are helping to redeem our work on earth in preparation for our work in eternity.
Avoid the snare of laziness, work hard “unto the Lord,” and enjoy the fruit of your labor.