Proverbs 6:6-8 reads, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” Solomon was heavy handed with this particular word, sluggard, in the book of Proverbs. He mentions it over a dozen times, the word being interchangeably translated as slothful. The sluggard is someone characterized by excessive sleep, desiring yet having nothing, void of understanding, and my personal favorite, “as a door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Proverbs 26:14). We are the generation who desire yet hide our hand in our bosom, and will not so much as bring it to our mouth again (Proverbs 19:24). In other words, we want it given to us on a silver platter, and even more, we want someone to put the food in our mouths!
However, we are slothful on a spectrum. At one end there’s the person with no direction who expects life to fall into their lap without them so much as lifting a finger. On the other end we have the busy person most wouldn’t label “lazy,” yet are being indolent towards that which God has called them to. Remember Martha? This is the person who is eager to tell you how busy they are. Yet if they aren’t doing what God wants, they are busy doing a whole lot of nothing (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, 2 Thessalonians 3:11).
Idle is a word seen more often to describe a slothful person in the New Testament. Idlers manifest themselves by becoming a busybody and a gossip. If your primary concern is for how others are spending their time, focus on the work He has called you to. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
So, we go to the ant. She has purpose, diligence, and the ability to cooperate for a greater end goal. Essentially, she has a great work ethic. Now set your mind on when God became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus’ work was a life and death wholly committed to His Father’s will. And talk about a work that was lasting – His work is completed but now the finished results continue on into today. So you can look back to Jesus’ death and resurrection and claim that as the payment for your sins this very moment! Once you do, you reap the benefits of Christ working in Heaven as your only intercessor (Romans 8:34). God was not finished on the seventh day of creation; He continues to work and will continue to work for all eternity.
God’s work remains our standard and it sets the precedent to work heartily and with all our might as for the Lord. He must be involved in your work for it to be valuable (Psalm 127:1). The work you wake up to every morning is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote, “We urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we have commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).