Earlier this week in the TLM Sisterhood Facebook Group, I explained the history behind the term “dog days of summer.” We looked at where that term originated from and how we view it today. For those of you who may not have been a part of that discussion, the term is used in the United States to describe the hot, lazy days from mid-July into August. During this time, many of us slowdown in our daily activities due to the heat.
As I write this mid-August 2020, we are experiencing that unbearable heat right now. And that is why I think it is so timely for us to be discussing slothfulness, as these days, it feels almost too hot to breathe much less do any work.
What comes to your mind’s eye when you picture someone who could be labeled a sluggard? Is it a teenage kid sleeping all day, someone in the TV show Hoarders, or could it be someone closer to you? Could you be a sloth?
I ask that you follow along with me for just a bit. I think we have all had days when we chose to “veg out” and do absolutely nothing to prepare for that night’s dinner much less our future. That is perfectly normal. What I want to propose to you regarding slothfulness is different than the occasional day of “not adulting.” I’m talking about when we choose to live life as it comes without having a destination in mind. To not set goals in life is to just exist. To be stagnant. To be a sluggard!
This past week, we looked at Proverbs 6:6-11:
“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise. Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit, scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” NLT
We have all seen ants marching in line back and forth carrying a payload that looks large enough to crush them. Never stopping, they are constantly preparing for the future. This passage from Proverbs is not warning us about binge watching a Netflix series occasionally, it is teaching us that we are to have goals and actively pursue them. We cannot sit around and just expect blessings to come knocking at the door. To get what we need and sometimes want, we must get up and get busy doing what is necessary to achieve that.
Proverbs 13:4 goes on to say:
Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. NLT
If you ask either of my sons, they will tell you that I’ve said some version of this throughout their whole lives. In fact, they would most likely shake their heads and say: “Oh no, please not that again. I have heard it all before!”
That’s because I have told them repeatedly: “You cannot expect to live in a reactionary mindset and make the best choices. You must be proactive in order to make wise decisions. If you sit around and refuse to address the issues you are facing, waiting until they become so big, so urgent, so critical that you have no choice but to do something, you will most likely make a mistake, pay a higher price than you intended, or lose something in the process.”
Living in a reactionary mindset instead of one of action causes us to not have enough space in our decision-making process to make a good decision. It is like getting pushed into a corner and having nowhere to go except through whatever is pushing us there in the first place. Being proactive towards reaching our goals allows us, in most cases, to avoid the corner all together.
Now, I am not talking about those life events that come out of nowhere and blindside you, such as a crippling health diagnosis, a sudden job loss, or the death of someone dear to you. However, even in those instances, if we have lived our lives like that of ants, we can process what has happened and keep things moving along.
This is an example of what I mean. If our health is in good shape overall, we can withstand an emergency health crisis better than if we have not been proactive. Proper nutrition and exercise have been proven to ward off disease and assist in healing.
Let’s look at another example. If we work like the ants in our careers, then we would be storing up some of what we earn. After tithing the first fruits of our labor, we would be putting a portion away for the future. Instead of saving little to nothing and consuming everything we make when we make it, we would be getting ready for winter. Then if job loss comes, while it is upsetting, we would have a reserve stored up to help us get through the lean times until a new career opportunity is found. And because of the reserves we have, we have the space in our decision making to not take the first job that comes along, but to search for the next “right door” to open.
Side note. By honoring God with our tithe, He will provide blessings when we least expect them. I speak from experience on this. I had a situation several years back where I was faced with the decision to either pay my tithe or take advantage of a deal. I chose to walk away from the deal and pay my tithe. And yes, I pouted about it for just a minute, but I knew it was not my money to begin with, so I repented for allowing greed to distract me from my goals. Not long after that, we sold our home and received an offer higher than a prior one. The offer was over ten times higher than the amount I had tithed that day. I can still remember how crystal clear it was in my mind that this was a blessing for honoring my tithe and it was to serve as a reminder in the future –God honors good decisions.
Lastly, let’s look at the loss of a loved one. By diligently working like the ant in regard to our spiritual life, we gain a closer relationship with Christ. Prayerfully, we hope that our loved ones see us acting like a follower of Christ and it impacts their life. We cannot witness to those around us and do the work of discipling others if the people we encounter see us as passive in our faith and our lives in shambles because of it. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, in other words, actively doing. We are called to work at spreading the Good News, not sit around and wait on the Rapture. If we put in the work and bring others to Christ, when death comes for those we love, we can rest assured that while they are not present with us here in this world that they are with the Heavenly Father. Having a strong faith life helps us in our grief to know that we will be reunited with loved ones again someday.
By following God’s principles of work and choosing not to be a sluggard, we can trust that He will help us fill our storehouses and withstand the winter –whatever that looks like. By strengthening our relationship with the Lord, we can trust that when hard times come, His teachings have prepared us to lean into Him.
I challenge you friend to examine your own life. Are there areas in your life that you are being slothful in that need addressing? There are in mine. While writing this piece, I have realized that in some parts of my day-to-day, I have been laying around waiting for a blessing to happen without taking the necessary actions (doing the work) that may lead to that blessing.
Well, time to go, there is work to be done.
Written by Rhonda Carlsen
All scripture taken from the NLT.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.