Laziness Will Kill You! (Proverbs 6:6-11)

My high school football coach was fond of an old expression: “Laziness will kill you.” He used the saying to push us to run and hit hard during practice so that we would play well in the games. But it was clear that warning us about laziness was also supposed to be a life lesson. Work hard and you will enjoy success, but slack off and take it easy and you will become poor. Not just financially ruined, but weak in your body and spirit, too. My coach’s love of hard work and discipline was very biblical, as was his hatred of laziness and its disastrous consequences.

Today passage in Proverbs encourages Christians to look to the ant as our model for work (Proverbs 6:6). Unlike the playful and lazy grasshopper from Aesop’s famous fable, the ant works hard during the summer to harvest and prepare food for the lean winter months (v. 8). The ant does not need his queen constantly watching over him to work; he just knows his job and does it faithfully each day (v. 7). This should be how all Christians work! Laziness has always been a sin that fallen humans must battle, especially young people and perhaps young men most of all. But in today’s American culture that places such high value on comfort, east, and convenience, laziness has become an epidemic disease afflicting every generation. Simply put, most people like to sit around and have others do things for us and we don’t like to push ourselves hard and break a sweat. But Proverbs warns us that lazy habits and attitudes in youth will create lazy adults who may suddenly find themselves without jobs, money, and fulfillment in life (vv. 9-11). Worse still, lazy people have little or no impact for the gospel because they look no different from their lazy, lost friends, family, and neighbors.

In teaching sixth grade for the past eight years, I have seen many students struggle with their grades because they don’t like or even know how to work. They have to learn how to buckle down and pay attention in class (yes, good listening, thinking, and note taking requires effort and concentration), do their homework and actually learn from it, and study effectively for quizzes and tests. As their teachers, we work hard to help our students (passive) learn how to be students (active). But we can only help the students who are willing to work and try. We cannot help students who are unwilling to change their lazy attitudes and behaviors. We do our best to challenge and motivate our students, but as my high school football also used to say a lot (and I repeat often to my students), “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Decide now in middle and high school, before life’s consequences become a lot more serious, that you will be a hard worker in school, sports, chores, and everything else. Change will take time and effort. If you have lived like the grasshopper for many years, living for nothing but fun and entertainment and mooching off the hard work of your parents and others, then learning to live like the ant may be a process that takes years to complete. In truth, I am still fighting against lazy habits I created in my youth and I am 37! Laziness is a mortal enemy that does not die easily. You will be swimming against the cultural stream; many of your classmates and “friends” may not share your biblical mindset about work and laziness. But God will help you and over time, you will see the fruit of your labors if you hang in there and stay the course. May God help us all to be more like the ant today.

The Text (Proverbs 6:6-11)

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,

7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler,

8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.

9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep—

11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

Questions to Think About

  1. Are you known by your teachers and parents as being a hard worker or a lazy person? Explain.
  2. Do you believe that laziness is a sin? Why or why not?
  3. In what areas of life do you struggle most with lazy attitudes and habits? What changes can you make to become more hardworking in these parts of your life?
  4. Have you ever talked with your parents about how much hard work has helped them in life? Most parents want their children to work hard, but not all parents know which Bible verses support their desire. Today’s passage might be something they want to talk about with you!

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

More Reasons to Avoid to Bad Girls and Guys (Proverbs 5:7-14)

The high costs of immorality are way worse than the brief moments of pleasure that a sinful relationship can offer. Remember that all of Proverbs 5 is a caution to young men to avoid bad girls (and for young women to avoid bad guys). The first section, verses 1-6, opened with an appeal for the reader to listen well for the words of wisdom that would follow. It then warned us that bad girls (and guys) tend to flatter and entice people who are then led astray by their emotions and pride. In the end, a relationship that seemed sweet like honey becomes bitter and deadly.

Verses 7-14 repeat the pattern of a plea to listen followed by why immoral women (and men) are harmful. Only now, even more reasons for avoiding the pitfalls of immorality are given. Adultery and immoral relationships will hurt your reputation and witness for Christ (v. 8). It will cost you money (v. 10) and eventually your health and perhaps even your life (v. 11). Married people who cheat on their spouses risk the peace, stability, and happiness of their families. Single people who date unbelievers or immature or backslidden Christians risk becoming trapped in bad relationships that could lead to bad marriages. Many Christians in their 30’s and 40’s today are living with sorrows and tough circumstances that were caused by bad relationship choices made in their teens and 20’s. They have many regrets and wish that they would have listened to the counsel of God’s Word in their youth (vv. 12-14). God’s redemption and healing and grace are still available even after big mistakes, but prevention up front is the better way.

You see, the good news for you is that you are still young and have your whole life ahead of you. You can walk the path of wisdom in your future relationships. Focus now in your middle and high school years on building strong spiritual disciplines in your life. Learn now how to walk with Christ and make right choices that protect and strengthen your relationship with Him. Let Him build character in your life and seek out godly mentors to help you grow in wisdom and stature. Be patient to prepare and wait for a godly wife or husband in the right time. If you ask any older Christian adult, they will tell you not to worry about dating until your junior year of high school at the earliest. This will probably be a tough, less traveled road, even at a Christian school like NRCA. But the narrow path of wisdom will be worth it when you get to enjoy the blessings of a healthy, holy Christian marriage one day.

The Text (Proverbs 5:7-14)

7 Therefore hear me now, my children, And do not depart from the words of my mouth.

8 Remove your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house,

9 Lest you give your honor to others, And your years to the cruel one;

10 Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, And your labors go to the house of a foreigner;

11 And you mourn at last, When your flesh and your body are consumed,

12 And say:

“How I have hated instruction,

And my heart despised correction!

13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!

14 I was on the verge of total ruin, In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”

Questions to Think About

  1. How do you think that a relationship with a bad girl or guy could end up hurting your reputation?
  2. How could an adulterous or immoral relationship cost you your money and health?
  3. If the results of bad relationships are so awful, why do you think people are still foolish enough to get trapped in them?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Why Wisdom? (Proverbs 3:1-12)

Why should people follow Jesus Christ as His disciples? Is it only to avoid the fires of hell and receive the blessings of heaven? Well, Jesus warns us often about hell in the Gospels as a powerful reason for repenting of our sins and turning to God in faith. For people who already think they have everything this life can offer, the danger of hell may be the only way to get through to them about their need for salvation. But Jesus also promised His followers the joy of eternal life now on this earth. Heaven begins in our hearts the moment we give up control of our lives and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. From that born again experience, we receive the Holy Spirit, God Himself inside us. The Spirit then empowers us to follow the narrow path of wisdom and enjoy the Lord’s love, peace, and kindness. The Christian life is supposed to be a life of abundant joy.

As we see in today’s passage in Proverbs, there are many blessings that come to us in this life as we walk with Christ. First, we are told that really following Christ means studying His Word and letting it shape and guide our hearts (Proverbs 3:1,3). By allowing God’s truth to transform us from the inside out, we find a long life and peace (v. 2). Now remember that the promises of Proverbs are generally but not always true. God in His sovereignty may choose to take a faithful Christian home to heaven before they reach old age. But in most cases following God’s Word will lead to a life of good health and low stress (v. 8) as we learn to trust God more and more (v. 5), especially in the middle of great trials. Many people sadly die long before they should because their lives of hard living have destroyed their bodies and souls; this is not God’s best for us as believers! Obeying the Lord will also build strong character traits in us like honesty, diligence (being a hard worker), and reliability. These are qualities that other people, both Christians and unbelievers, will respect and respond positively to (v. 4). Generally speaking, Christians will prosper in their work and their family and friendship relationships because God’s way of putting others before ourselves leads to cooperation and peace. Next, by embracing God’s wisdom, Christians will also find guidance and direction for their lives, rather than wandering through life without purpose like so many others (v. 6). Also, while not all Christians are guaranteed riches or a comfortable lifestyle, the general principle remains that “you can’t out give the Lord.” By tithing (giving 10% of their income to the church), Christians honor the Lord and can expect that He will give them financial peace (vv. 9-10). Again, this may not mean big incomes or never struggling to make important purchases. But it means living within your means and avoiding the burdens of debt and knowing that you are giving God control of your money, because it all belongs to Him anyways. There is a special peace that comes from trusting God with your money and stuff, a peace that God wants all Christians to enjoy. Finally, following Christ protects you from the guilt and sorrows of sin. God gives Christians boundaries in His Word to protect us from evil, not to keep us from what is good for us. When we start to drift off course and give into sin, the Lord will correct us through the counsels of Scripture and our Spirit-led consciences; this is a sign that we are indeed His beloved children (vv. 11-12).

So, what do you think? Read Proverbs 3:1-12 today and decide for yourself: Is following Jesus Christ worth it? My prayer is that we will all shout in our hearts, “Yes!”

The Text (Proverbs 3:1-12)

1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;

2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.

3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart,

4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;

10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction;

12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Questions to Think About

  1. Why did you first want to be a Christian?
  2. Since accepting Christ, has your commitment to follow Him been strengthened by other reasons like those from today’s passage? Why do you still follow Him today?
  3. Have you ever tried to persuade someone else to become a Christian? What reasons did you give them for why they should accept and follow Christ?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Hungry for Wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-9)

Are you hungry for wisdom and knowledge? Do you want to know God’s ways and desires for your life? Do you want His Word to shape how you think and feel and act? Proverbs 2:1-9 reminds us today that God’s truth is available to all who really want it. If you seek the Lord with all of your heart, you will find Him and the path of life that He has laid out for you.

The first nine chapters are Proverbs all contain different ways of making the same major plea to the listener: Seek wisdom and find life! We are told that we must be willing to receive wisdom and to treasure it above all else (Proverbs 2:1,4)). To find God’s truth, we must open our ears and hearts and call out to the Lord to teach us (vv. 2-3). That kind of desire for knowledge will lead us to put God’s truth into practice in our daily lives. We will be doers and not just hearers of the Word. We will live humbly before the Lord in the fear of Him (v. 5), and so find more and more wisdom that God has stored up for those who love and obey Him (vv. 6-7a). God promises for us who walk with Him that He will protect our paths through life’s trials and hardships (vv. 7b-8). In the middle of even the worst suffering and sorrow, we will see Jesus at work in and around us. We will see the path of life before us and understand how to do God’s will (v. 9).

Life is tough. But for God’s people, we do not have to face the troubles alone. Jesus Christ will guide us if we seek His face and plan in God’s Word. May we all hunger and thirst after His righteousness and truth today.

The Text (Proverbs 2:1-9)

1 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,

2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;

3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,

4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.

Questions to Think About

  1. Have you been hungry to read your Bible this summer? Why or why not?
  2. How can you increase your appetite for personal Bible study and prayer?
  3. When in the past few years have you been most hungry to spend time with God?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Leadership Matters (Proverbs 28:12,28; 29:1-2)

As the leaders go, so go the people. When a government is righteous and honors God and His commands, then the nation will enjoy peace and prosperity (Proverbs 28:12a, 29:2a). We think of the early years of our own nation, the United States of America, when many of our elected officials were either Christians or sympathetic to Christianity. Our society was more moral and religious and virtues like hard work, freedom, and sacrifice were common among the American people. Then we contrast that era with modern America, where laziness, dependence, and selfishness afflict every generation from young to old. We are living in a time with many wicked leaders who do not know the Lord or respect His laws. Christians are being forced to be careful and clever with how they display their faith in public, so that good men and women do “hide themselves” from an increasingly evil government (Proverbs 28:12b). And the whole nation suffers from the bitter economic and social effects of our sins that have trickled from the top down to the common people (Proverbs 28:2). The gap between rich and poor grows wider and wider in our country, for example, while depression and suicide rates are at all time highs.

How does this passage apply to us average people today? First, we should pray for our government and its leaders. God tells Christians that we should pray for everyone, especially for “kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Rather than just complain, we should take our burdens about our government’s condition to the Lord. Even today, for example, we can pray for the President and Senate to receive wisdom from God in appointing a new Supreme Court Justice this fall. Secondly, we should vote for candidates who are most likely to support biblical principles and protect Christian freedoms. We want to vote and advocate for a government that allows churches and Christian organizations to be salt and light in our nation. As middle and high school students, you are not yet old enough to vote, but you will be in just a few years. Now is the time to begin following current events and studying government and the important issues that our leaders face today. Finally, we should seek to be the best American citizens that we can be. Christians ought to be the best kind of citizens. We ought to model the virtues of our forefathers, working hard, being honest, and giving to those in need. We should obey the laws of our land to the best of our ability. As students, you are learning right now to submit to your parents and teachers so that you will submit to God, the government, and your bosses once you reach full adulthood. Let us not be like the wicked leaders who never listen to correction and truth and eventually fall (Proverbs 29:1). Instead, let us accept the authorities that God has placed over us and submit to their rule as unto the Lord.

The Text (Proverbs 28:12,28; 29:1-2)

28:12 When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves…

28:28 When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.

29:1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

Questions to Think About

  1. Does your family ever spend time praying for our government leaders? How about for your school and church leaders? Maybe you could suggest including these prayers at your next family meal or devotion time.
  2. How might praying for your leaders strengthen your own walk with Christ?
  3. Can you think of an example from school, church, a team, or somewhere else where you saw godly leaders help other people to be godly and enjoy God’s blessings?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel