One of my favorite fables is the story of the grasshopper and the ant. The story is about an ant that works very hard all summer long to store up food before winter comes. As the he toils, day after day, he passes a grasshopper that is always playing, enjoying life, and even making fun of him for working so hard. Of course winter comes, the ant is well prepared, and now can enjoy a time of rest. The grasshopper, however, finds that he has nothing and faces times of desperation filled with regret. This fable by Aesop was written many years ago but the lesson in this story is older than the fable itself, as it was first found in the Bible.
“Take a lesson from the ants … Learn from their ways and be wise!
Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer, gathering food for winter.” Proverbs 6:6-8
In the beginning God placed man in a beautiful setting – a lush garden – a magnificent place to call home! Genesis 2:15 tells us that the Lord placed man in this garden to tend and care for it, and he created a companion suitable to help. From the beginning work was intended! Why even God himself worked. Genesis 2:2-3 tells us that God finished his task on the sixth day and rested from all of his work on the seventh day. God commands us to follow this pattern enjoying a holy day of rest when our work is done also!
We were created to work, and we were created to rest from our work at the appropriate times. We were not, however, created to live lives of constant leisure, gratification, or pleasure. God wants us to have the attitude that we live to work, work is important, and work is good. God has blessed each of us with different talents and abilities to make useful and worthwhile contributions to the world. When we discover the work that God made us to enjoy, we find a sense of purpose which gives us the desire and the energy we need to both work and to enjoy leisure as he intended. Work is satisfying!
“Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Romans 12:11
When we don’t see work as something that God intended, we struggle through life, seeking contentment, working just to pay the bills or to afford pleasures, or depending on others to provide our needs. These attitudes often lead to poor work ethics and laziness which are not God’s plan for humanity. The Bible teaches an honest, honoring, and enthusiastic work ethic and strongly warns against laziness, which is the opposite of working enthusiastically. While we learn a wise lesson from the ‘ant’ in Proverbs 6:6-8, verses 9-11 continue with a message to the ‘grasshopper’ from Aesop’s Fable:
“But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?
I want you to learn this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” Proverbs 6:9-11
The Bible has many things to say about laziness, and none of them are good! However they are great reminders that being lazy is a terrible option with unfortunate outcomes. These verses are reminders that we must not fall into a trap of laziness!
- “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” Proverbs 10:4
- “Lazy people are a pain to their employer. They are like smoke in the eyes or vinegar that sets the teeth on edge.” Proverbs 10:26
- “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” Proverbs 12:24
- “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4
- “A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.” Proverbs 18:9
- “I walked by the field (or house) of a lazy person, the vineyard of one lacking sense. I saw that it was overgrown with thorns. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” Proverbs 24:30-34
Being lazy is not a wise way to invest all that God has blessed us with. Instead we should live according to Colossians 3:23 which says, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you are working for the Lord rather than for people.” Living by this principle can make a big difference in our work, in our homes, and in our lives! How would your life be different if you enthusiastically served the Lord in everything you did? How would your life be different if you had the perfect balance of hard work and rest?
Work was not meant to be a dreaded and horrible thing. Work was instead meant to be a blessing for others and for ourselves. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to have a task at hand, work at it with my whole heart, and then enjoy the fruit (or the paycheck) of my labor at the end of the day! On the other hand, when I put off something that I know I should be doing, it only brings stress, guilt, and regret at the end of the day.
“(A wise woman) carefully watches all that goes on in her household
and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness.” Proverbs 31:27
Be wise. Understand and live according to God’s standard for work and responsibility!
Love and Blessings,