12 July 2010

Rulers or Slaves

This morning as I spent time in prayer before my kids got up, I was praying that I would be able to instill in them a good work ethic, and an attitude of diligence. There are so many projects and things we'd like to accomplish this summer, and the only way it seems possible is to either 1) get rid of the kids (which is not really an option), or 2) get the kids to help in some meaningful way. And I was praying that I would have the right attitude about this as well. Sometimes I'm reluctant to dive into a project because I think I know how much work must be required, and I just don't feel like I have the resources to do it all at once. (Never mind that I could pace myself and get the job done over time; being a big-picture kind of person, I sometimes can't see the trees for the forest!)

And then at breakfast, we read Proverbs 12. Over and over was a contrast of a diligent person and one who is often referred to as a sluggard elsewhere in Proverbs. And there's a lesson in there for me. I connected these verses together.

verse 11: He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.

verse 14: A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.

verse 24: The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.

verse 27: A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.

Paying close attention to verse 24, there are two types of people: those who rule, and those who are slaves (put to forced labor). So I made two lists:

The Slave's List:
  • pursues worthless things
  • lacks sense
  • has slack hands
  • is forced to work
  • doesn't roast his prey (doesn't make the most of his opportunities)
The Ruler's List:
  • tills his land
  • has plenty to eat
  • uses his words wisely
  • is satisfied with good
  • has diligent hands
  • understands the value of diligence
And of course it's a rhetorical question, but what kind of person would I rather be? What kind of person do I want my children to become? So now, I make a composite list:

To Be THAT Person, One must:
  • pursue important, valuable, virtuous things
  • be sensible
  • be busy with one's hands
  • work voluntarily
  • make the most of what one has, improve on what one has
  • work hard
  • reap what one sows
  • plan for the future
  • enjoy the fruit of one's labor and the blessing of one's actions
  • keep one's hands from being idle
  • appreciate hard work
Rather than be the slave to my stuff, I want to be the ruler, how about you? I know this is short and sweet, but I want to now go and practice what I'm preaching! May God bless you in the pursuits that He's given you and the work that He's given you to do today, tomorrow, next week, and all summer long. And I'll end with this passage from Galatians to reflect on, in light of the verses in Proverbs:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)

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