The sluggard buries her hand in the dish; she will not even bring it back to her mouth!
Do you ever contemplate a harder life? Do you ever think about what it would be like, for instance, to be a dairy farmer? There are no holidays for a dairy farmer. You can’t tell your cows to go milk themselves, or hold that milk for a long weekend and you’ll be back with them on Monday. Every day without fail, you’ve got to get up at 5 a.m. (why so early?) and milk the cows. And if you’re sick, you’ve got to find someone to do it for you.
What about a life in which you would have to work to be able to eat every day? When I wake up, the first thing I do is make a pot of coffee. Later, I cook a couple of eggs or have a bowl of cereal. I just open my refrigerator and it’s there. What if I lived an existence in which I had to harvest my breakfast every morning – go out looking for eggs or berries or nuts? There are still many people who daily harvest their food. There are many more who have to elaborately prepare it just to eat breakfast – hours of chopping wood and starting a fire, grinding, pounding, mixing and baking before they get a bite to eat.
Truly, we are blessed if we can start out the morning by opening a refrigerator. Oddly, once we begin to have a taste of leisure, we crave it more and more. Once we get the eggs, milk and bread sitting in the fridge waiting for us, we begin to dream of ways they could be already made into pancakes or French toast – just waiting for us. Whereas 25 years ago, I would have to mix that up myself, now, I can buy French toast sticks and pop them in the microwave and my gourmet breakfast is ready in two minutes – during which I can be reading the newspaper or petting the dog. What’s next? How can I make getting breakfast even quicker and easier? I bet there’s some inventor working right now on a way to program the refrigerator to automatically send the French toast to the microwave. The microwave will be pre-set so that at precisely 7:15 a.m., when I’m ready to eat, “DING.” Breakfast is ready. Won’t that be great?
I’m not kidding! I know that sounds facetious but there really is nothing wrong with efficiency and having to put forth less effort toward the same end. If we can whittle fixing breakfast down to a five-second task (without compromising nutritional content), why shouldn’t we? All the time in the morning that I’m not baking bread, churning milk to make butter and hunting for eggs in the henhouse is time I can and do use in other types of work.
The thing about efficiency and ease is that it, just like every inanimate thing, they can be used to good ends or bad. The person who makes the best of modern conveniences is more productive as a result of them. The person who misuses them becomes lazy – and laziness is a slippery slope that ends in a pit so low we can’t even feed ourselves! Isn’t that crazy? Seems impossible someone could sink so low. But are we so far from that extreme when we won’t watch television if we can’t find the remote? We won’t get up to change the channel, but will instead continue to watch something we don’t even want to watch because we’re too lazy to walk to the TV and press a button. Honestly, I think some people wouldn’t even know how to operate a television without a remote control.
Last night my husband and I both got in bed before we realized the overhead light was on – just barely, it was dimmed. Neither of us wanted to get up to turn it off. He said I was closer. But he was sitting up and I was already tucked in. So we decided we could sleep with the light on. It was a playful stalemate because neither of us can actually sleep with the light on. He got up to turn it off (hee hee). That was all in fun but it illustrates just how ridiculously lazy people can be.
We all need rest and leisure time and God is a great advocate of rest. God created one day a week specifically for that purpose, though very few people actually take advantage of that anymore. God also commanded vacations and holidays. God goes over and over the details of these built-in periods of rest and recreation in the Old Testament. Anyone who knows their Bible knows that God is all for us having time with the family. Did you know that God commanded that Israeli newlyweds get a whole year off of work for the husband to make his wife happy? Check it out – Deuteronomy 24:5. Our God is a reasonable, even generous God who does not require us to work ourselves to an early death.
On the other hand, when we’re not observing a divinely mandated holiday or Sabbath, God wants us to do the work each of us has been given to do, and not just do it, but do it as if Jesus Christ Himself were our direct supervisor. “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
God designed life to include both work and leisure, but the sad fact of the matter is that there’s a lot more work than leisure in the design. I know that’s no earth-shaking statement, yet many people (including me) don’t seem to want to accept that fact. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished my “to-do” list were empty and that for even a week, I would have nothing to do. I sometimes fantasize about walking around the house thinking, “What can I do? There’s nothing to do.” On the longer term, I already have my sites set on age 70 when I plan to retire. My days will be filled with visiting friends and family, crafting, gardening, reading, travel, cooking – all my hobbies (some of which resemble my present-day work…). Having that retirement date ahead of me actually helps me to stay motivated today – even though it’s the better part of three decades away – I know a rest is coming. Though these daydreams get me through a day of work, they reflect a wrong attitude. (Bad Donna!)
The right attitude, which I am actively cultivating, is to be thankful to God that my “to-do” list is full and that God has given me meaningful work that glorifies God and pays my bills. I want to express my gratitude for that work by cheerfully sitting down to the task each day and applying myself fully to it. I also gratefully take advantage of the days of rest that are built into the calendar to refuel and make deeper connections with my family and friends.
And that propensity to slip further into laziness? I fight it and call on the strength of Jesus to resist it – just like I do with other temptations. Rest is good and God commands it; we must also recognize laziness for what it is – another way we can separate ourselves from God’s will. There is an entire society trying to get us to take it easy, cut out of work early, enjoy ourselves more and work less. Being an industrious woman of God is an upstream swim, whereas becoming less and less productive is as easy as drifting with the current. Keep going with it and you’ll go over the falls into a pool of absurdity.
Hold this thought: Thank God I have work to do and the ability to do it.