“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.” (Proverbs 20:13, NKJV)
Wisdom teaches us we cannot recapture wasted time. Sleep is used to describe idleness and inaction. Lack of attention to our daily tasks brings want (Proverbs 6:6-11). Loving idleness squanders the precious commodity of time. Instead of laziness, we are urged to open our eyes, see the work set before us, and then get busy addressing it. The result will be food to eat, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Jesus reminds disciples to avoid idleness when He urged personal evangelism in John 4:35: “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” He used it again when He spoke of the urgency of doing the work of God in John 9:4: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” You do not know how much time you have on the earth. So, use your time wisely, and enjoy temporal and eternal blessings (Ephesians 5:16).
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1, NKJV)
The apostle Paul urges his beloved Timothy to be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy had work to do as an evangelist, and he ought to be made strong by the grace that is in Christ to carry out his work (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Even so, God’s grace emboldens us to do the good work He gives us (Ephesians 2:10). Like Timothy, we must rely on God’s favor as we do His work, instead of depending on our own wisdom and power. Timothy’s work included teaching the gospel to faithful men, who could teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). He was to endure hardships, and not be diverted from his work of preaching the gospel (2 Timothy 2:3-4). He would have to play by God’s rules – he could not “make it up” as he went along (2 Timothy 2:5). And, to reap the reward of his labor, he would have to be a dedicated worker (2 Timothy 2:6). To be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” means to be empowered by God’s good favor to meet our challenges of faith. By God’s grace, we can faithfully persevere in doing God’s will.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)
The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).
11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (1 Timothy 5:11–13, NKJV)
In refusing to register young widows for ongoing benevolent care from the local church, the apostle explained that to do so would provide a means for them to “learn to be idle.” When someone is given everything, there is little incentive to work to provide for oneself and for others under your charge (1 Tim. 5:8). Parents do their children no favors by not placing work expectations upon them as they are growing up. When a person learns to be idle, he or she is exposed to the sins of idleness, like gossip and meddling in the affairs of others. “Wandering about from house to house” has become easier these days, with telephones, email, texting, Facebook, etc. – but, the sins of idleness are the same. Let us be busy doing the work of the Lord, taking care of our own business and families. “Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands,” instead of learning to be idle (1 Thess. 4:11).
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12, NKJV)
There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep after a long day of hard work. Rest for the weary that refreshes the body and the mind, is among the blessings gained through labor. God has ordained labor to be a blessing, and we ought to be thankful that we can work with our hands. Work that is well done gives you a sense of accomplishment in providing for yourself and your family (1 Tim. 5:8). Additionally, working keeps your mind and body occupied with honorable things. Idleness easily leads to temptation and sin (2 Thess. 3:10-11). Work also helps us keep life in perspective. We work to provide for ourselves and our families, and also to help others who are in need (1 Thess. 4:11-12). Work becomes a taskmaster when we make increasing material wealth the reason for our labor. One day we will die, and the work of our hands will be left to another (Eccl. 2:17-23). So, we must keep life in perspective as we labor day by day. Enjoy good from your labor. Be thankful you can work, but do not be enslaved by it. Enjoy the blessings of labor; they are from the hand of God (Eccl. 2:24).
9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9–11, NKJV)
Jesus reminded His disciples that now is the time for diligent work in the service of God (Jno. 9:3-4). Now is not the time to rest. God has created good works in which we must walk (Eph. 2:10). So, we must not be sluggish and neglectful, but energetically obedient in doing the will of God. Notice in verse 11 that obedience is equivalent to being “diligent to enter that rest” that awaits us, since not to be diligent amounts to disobedience. Here is another place where faithful obedience is defined as the “work” we do – not to earn heaven, but as our dutiful, faithful obedience to our Master. Death brings blessed rest “from their labors” to those who die in the Lord, and “their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Please do not confuse the diligent work of obedience with an attempt to earn one’s way into heaven. Obedience to the Lord is our faith doing His works, all the while anticipating our eternal rest.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21, NKJV)
Have you ever stopped to see how God defines a “good work?” It is worth your time and effort. Christians are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, the good works that please God are the ones He created us for and arranged for us to do. In today’s passage, “every good work” is identified as accomplishing “His will” (v. 21). The prayer being offered is that God would bring them (us) to spiritual completeness in every good work, by working in them (us) “what is well-pleasing in His sight.” If a work is against God’s revealed will (His word), it is not good and does not please God. We cannot possibly call something a “good work” when it violates truth. By His inspired Scriptures, God equips us for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, it is evident that good works conform to truth. Therefore, God’s definition of a good work is a work that agrees with His will. When a work violates the Scriptures it cannot be good.