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News for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
March 30: Don't Be a Slacker
By Aubrey Hay
retired, TBC staff

Focal Passage: Proverbs 24:30, 13:4, 14:23

The word “slacker” is the word in other translations for sluggard and sloth. It is a description of a person who is lazy and avoids work. The subject of work or labor is often tied to the experience of Adam and Eve who were driven from the garden, but work was not a part of the curse. Labor was part of God’s plan. When Adam and Eve were given the garden they were to, “till and keep it.” Labor did become more difficult outside the ideal setting in the garden (Genesis 3:17-19).

The subject of labor as opposed to idleness is part of the general theme in Proverbs where wise and foolish activity is contrasted. The sluggard’s way is foolish and senseless, while the laborer’s way is wise and prudent. He is the man described in Proverbs 24:30-34 as one who remains idle even when disaster is approaching. The author passes the field of the idle man and sees it overgrown with weeds, and the wall broken down. So a “little sleep … a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come like a robber.”

Work, on the other hand is the activity of the wise. Work is creative as mind and body unite in bringing well-being and prosperity to the worker. To this thought we can bring all the progress that has been made by the effort of creative labor throughout the centuries, bringing more productivity and ease of labor to the worker. Creativity of the person has eased labor significantly, but the need for the worker remains.

There follows several references of those who worked wisely and prospered. These are contrasted to the foolish “The son who gathers during the summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful” (Proverbs 10:5).

There is a warning to the worker also. The worker who is wise and works and amasses possessions is warned to use his possessions well. The response he should make is to give generously. “One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor” (Proverbs 11:24-25).

Solomon continues this theme by saying a generous person will be enriched. Being generous with what you have is an expression of gratitude to God. Helping the poor and needy is one avenue of service that can enrich ones’ life. It is important to understand what enrichment of life is. To give of what you have been blessed with is an expression of returning to God what He has given you. Some have taught, and obviously believe, that what you give will be given back. This, of course, leaves out the element of sacrifice. If we give with this assumption, it reduces the gift to being a good investment. Enrichment means more than a monetary return on your investment. The very act of helping is a reward in itself. Sacrifice is an integral part of our faith, for we are the recipients of the greatest gift of all in the person of Jesus Christ, whose gift was the greatest sacrifice.

Working in reality is the using of our life in return for those things that sustain life. We work for a salary. We have given our time (life) for the money we receive. We will not get that time back except in the sustaining of the life we have left. Sacrifice is not only a necessary element of our life, but of our worship.

Several years ago, I learned of a pastor who had fallen on hard times. Sickness had drained the meager resources of the family until they were desperate. His church and others began an offering for him and the family, without his knowledge. When he heard of the need of this unknown person, he gave also. He was shocked with surprise when he learned that the gift was for him.

Hay, a former pastor and retiree from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, lives in Dyersburg.

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