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Sluggard in Us All

Sluggard: A person who majors in doing nothing. One who lives without purpose of pursuit.

Such a lifestyle may appeal to someone laboring under heavy stress. But doing nothing is the hardest of all jobs because a do-nothing person, never gets finished.

We can all identify with the sluggard--when troubling circumstances overwhelm us, when our dreams fail and our plans are thwarted, when we go through trials, or we lose courage, heart, and direction. When projects dangle unfinished and goals remain unreached, we lose energy and enthusiasm. Spiritually speaking, we can also become sluggardly when high and holy privileges become common place, when we remain untouched and uncommitted in worship, Bible study, and prayer, and when we lose the joy and thrill of serving God.

Solomon, the wisest of his time, wanting to arouse and stir the sluggard from his boredom, and indolence, challenged him to take good look at the ant: "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest" (Prov. 6:6-8). The ant, a very small insect, is universally known for its remarkable industriousness, economy, social habits, and building skills. From the ant we can learn to be wise and do our work diligently and faithfully. We can be encouraged and motivated to live our lives for the things of God by setting obtainable and worthwhile goals. We learn from the ant to not to be afraid of work. For example, the church needs workers, not shirkers, participators, not spectators. It goes without saying that very little can be accomplished without work. Remember, God put man to work before the Fall. Man was assigned the task of dressing and keeping the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). As a church sign once said, "Worry kills more people than work because more people worry than work."

We also learn from the ant that it's always best to finish a job, to complete a project. When there is a job to do, all the ants pitch in and do it, without fanfare or needless delay. An ant would never be like the fellows who learned a piano needed moving, so he carried the stool. Ants are not concerned with which ants get the honor for a finished project. Sometimes we worry so much about who's going to get the glory that we fail to do the work.

Ants are remarkable coordinators, able to accomplish much work without guide or overseer. They are able to achieve maximum results with minimum organization. Humans, on the other hand, sometime accomplish minimum results with maximum organization. The ant is known for its cooperative spirit. An ant would never be guilty of hindering a project by refusing to cooperate. An ant would never use a delaying tactic or stall an endeavor because it didn't get its way. Ants seem to be aware that when one assumes equal responsibility, a difficult task becomes easy.

In the local church, cooperation also means being motivated by one purpose. "That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel"(Phil. 1:27); "being of one accord, of one mind" (Phil. 2:2). The church is to work together as a team, unified in one purpose-to honor God. God's people are to move in one direction, doing all things for God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31). In addition, cooperation speaks of one aim: seeking God's righteousness first (Matt. 6:33). Ants do not easily get discouraged and quit. I once saw a number of ants work together to pull a grasshopper up over a two-foot, concrete structure in order to enjoy grasshopper steak a little later or to share with others. To make crossing easy for all, ants have been seen to build a live bridge across a small stream. With ants nothing is delayed or dies in committee planning. Ants are characterized by what appears to be wise planning an determine action.

An ant can lift many times its own weight in helping to accomplish a desired result. It is, indeed, sad that some of God's healthy people fail to lift themselves out of bed on Sunday morning to get to Sunday School and worship services.

Ants are masters in understanding the laws of the harvest. They know that immediate action is required to gather in the harvest. They know that time wasted is time lost forever. They take advantage of the long days and warm sunshine to get as much work done as possible. So, too, the church must take opportunities to speak of God's everlasting love in Christ. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, spoke of spiritual neglect, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jer. 8:20).

Let's all be encouraged to make necessary changes in our lives that we might bring forth fruit daily in serving the Lord, as we are "filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col.1:9, 10).

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