Christianity 201

March 21, 2018

The Sluggard – Part Two

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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Yesterday and today we’re sharing a total of four devotionals by Charles Price, Minister at Large for The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada. Click the individual titles to read at source.

Look to the Ant

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” —Proverbs 6:6-8

To correct the sluggard’s attitude, Solomon suggests looking to the ant. Ants are incredibly strong creatures, able to carry the heaviest weight of any animal in proportion to its size. They are also highly social, existing as part of colonies where each ant has a specific job to do. But what in particular can the sluggard learn from the ant?

Firstly, an ant’s work ethic exemplifies responsibility. Unlike the sluggard, ants look beyond their immediate needs. The sluggard only works to provide for the here and now, but the ant collects food in summer for the good of the colony down the road. Ants spring into action whenever their colony is under attack. The apparent chaos that occurs when we knock off the top of their anthills is really an incredibly organized re-digging and repairing of tunnels.

Secondly, the sluggard can learn reliability from the ants. No one needs to tell an ant it is time to gather food or rebuild tunnels. There are no commander ants looking over shoulders and demanding everyone do their part. When there is a need, every ant can be relied upon to fill it. Of course, this is largely because of instinct in which ants are essentially pre-wired to act this way, but they still serve as good examples for the sluggard. Our communities are strengthened when people do a task they know needs doing without having to be asked or checked up on.

Finally, the ants’ interdependence on one another for the colony’s success teaches the sluggard respect. Not every ant is a gatherer or re-builder. There are actually three kinds of ants—queen ants, worker ants and soldier ants—and each type has specific roles within the colony. The queen’s job is simply to be fed and lay eggs so the colony can grow. She is served by the worker ants that dig tunnels, incubate eggs and take care of the resulting babies. Meanwhile, the soldier ants are the ones gathering food and defending the colony.

The sluggard wastes his gifts by not looking beyond his immediate self-interest, but ants exemplify respect for each other by reliably fulfilling their particular roles for the greater good of the colony. This should remind us of when Paul describes the church as the body of Christ.

We all have a place within this body, including the sluggard, but bodies only work when there is mutual interdependence between its members. In the same way, the church is strongest when we each take responsibility for tasks that fit our gifts and callings, work reliably to get them done and show mutual respect for others within the body by encouraging them do the same.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the remarkable example of the ant. May their responsibility, reliability and respect be a regular reminder of how to execute my role within Your church. Thank You, Lord.

Sluggard in Our Souls

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  —Mark 8:36

While Jesus was teaching one day, a man called out to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). This inspired Jesus to tell a parable about the dangers of greed, but it also has a lesson for the sluggard. Jesus describes a rich man who had an exceedingly successful harvest. Realizing his barns could not hold all the extra grain, the man decided to tear them down and build bigger ones. He figured he could live comfortably off the excess and his future would be one of “eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19). 

This man was no sluggard. He followed the wisdom of Solomon, planting in season so he would have a harvest down the road. He reaped the benefits of an abundant harvest and had the good sense to increase his storage capacity. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (Luke 12:20) There is nothing wrong with providing for future material needs, but what about our souls? The man in this parable was disciplined and had a good work ethic, but he neglected the most important thing. We may gain every material blessing and comfort we could ever want, but it will amount to nothing if we are sluggards in our souls.

Some of us have been putting off responding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Maybe we have felt His leading to spend more time in His Word or prayer but we never make the time. Maybe we engage in the same sin over and over because we know Jesus will forgive us. Maybe we have been avoiding witnessing to someone at work because “it just hasn’t been the right time.”

Sadly, many people even put off entering a relationship with Jesus Christ because they think there is always tomorrow, but tomorrow is promised to no one.

The reality is that life is short. Schedules remain busy, temptation constantly knocks, coworkers leave for other jobs and death comes unexpectedly. This is the danger of spiritual slothfulness. The man in the parable was caught unprepared; a sluggard in his soul. His life had been all about himself and no amount of wisdom could help him now. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus asks, “What can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

There is nothing we can give in exchange for our souls, but the day will come when our souls will be required of us. What we decide in the present will determine our future, which is why a true Christian shares what they have and lives with eternity in mind.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, shift my focus from concerns of this life to spiritual matters. Keep me from becoming a hoarder and instill in me a heart that generously shares the blessings You have graciously given me. Thank You, Lord.

 

 

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