Last week we looked at 5 ways we can prevent laziness from creeping into our lives, so you’re probably eager to hear the final 5 ideas the Bible gives us. Today, I thought I’d change to a different passage of Scripture, though.
In the first century, Paul wrote to Timothy about how to care for the widows in their local congregation. Keep in mind that they didn’t have government welfare in their town of Lystra. If a woman’s husband died, she faced real starvation without the help of her family. If she had no family, she was in real trouble!
“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:3-8).
But just like in our culture, some widows learned how to “play the system.” The church over there is handing out food and cash? Cool… Let’s go get our names on the list for help!
“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds” (1 Timothy 5:9-10).
Paul advised Timothy to put together a list of qualification of “worthy widows.”
- A widow had to be older than 60. Why? Because younger widows could remarry and be cared for by strong, strapping men.
- She had to have been faithful to her husband.
- She had to have been well known for good deeds. In other words, she was not lazy! Check out some sample “busy work” she had to be known for: bringing up children, showing hospitality, doing mundane tasks for others like washing their feet, helping those in trouble, and being devoted to all kinds of good deeds! Rather impressive…
Paul then warned what could happen if younger women were placed on a list for financial help. They’d get bored! When they got bored, they’d get themselves into trouble! (Yak, yak, yak…)
“As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:11-13).
The cure for all this trouble making was to get busy! See how this all applies to laziness? Young women have a lot of jobs to do, and doing these jobs keeps their character good.
“So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need” (1 Timothy 5:14-16).
5 More Ways to Overcome Laziness
6. Keep Your Mouth Quiet and Your Hands Busy.
Paul told Timothy that the number-one sign of a lazy women is that “they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” In our society, this often takes the form of calling from house to house on cell phones, or surfing from house to house on our computers.
“All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Sometimes I’ve felt sorry for myself on a week when I didn’t have time to check my Facebook page as often as I wanted. I’d missed all the cool news, hadn’t poked my nose through friends’ photos, and felt lonely and neglected. However, usually I was off line because I was keeping very busy at home. It seems I should have been happy, not discouraged, because my crazy schedule was keeping me out of trouble.
7. Earn the Food You Eat.
Just as the first-century young women felt that they were entitled to free food so that they could enjoy the company of friends, we also tend to feel that we are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — especially the pursuit of happiness! We feel that hard work is beneath us. We enjoy processed foods, restaurants, and plenty of TV time.
Convenience isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it helps a tired mother who is exhausted from lack of sleep because she’s nursing a baby, or if it aids someone with chronic illness whose joints ache and can’t move like she once could. You get the idea! Convenience and inventions are to help those in distress, not to make us lazy.
Did you know that work is a command? Yup! God gives sleep to us each night to refresh us (Psalm 127:2), and He gives the sabbath to us each week as well. But during the daytime, we are to be working.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9).
We shouldn’t feel like we’re being cheated out of life because we need to clean our homes or prepare our meals. We shouldn’t feel poor because we have to help our husband with his business or even work a job ourselves to make ends meet.
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” (Genesis 2:18).
“She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).
It is a mark of excellence to be able to care for our families and to be able to eat food that we earned with our own money, by hard work.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
I’m not saying that there aren’t times to help those in need. Even Ruth and Naomi were stuck without food one time, so Ruth (the younger woman) went to the field of Boaz to get food for herself and her mother-in-law. But note that Boaz didn’t have all the grain harvested, milled, and boxed up for her to take home. She had to glean the corners of the field with her own hands, then thrash it, then sift it, then grind it, then mix it, then bake it!
(I doubt she had much social time left over…)
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’
“We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7).
8. Do Menial Tasks in Service of Others.
We’re to go beyond mere housework and food preparation, however. We are called to a higher standard, that of serving others.
“If you see your brother’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him. If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is, take it home with you and keep it until he comes looking for it. Then give it back to him. Do the same if you find your brother’s donkey or his cloak or anything he loses. Do not ignore it. If you see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help him get it to its feet” (Deuteronomy 22:1-4).
Even on our “day off,” we’re to put others’ needs first.
“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’
“He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath'” (Matthew 12:9-12).
A woman is to be known for “bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds” (1 Timothy 5:9).
Bringing up children is more than hard work. It refines our character by requiring us to set aside our own needs and desires for a season, so that we can serve little ones with booger noses and annoying wiggles.
Showing hospitality means that we have to set aside our own agenda for the day, to show love to those who need a meal, a place to stay, or shelter from the troubles of life.
“Now that I, [Jesus] your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:14-16).
9. Be Faithful in the Small Things.
Each of us is a lump of clay being molded into a vessel to serve our Master. Some of us spend our days being useful to our Master. Others spend their days in wickedness and laziness (Matthew 25:26).
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
The small, insignificant, and menial tasks mold us into useful instruments. They teach us to be faithful, to be consistent, to be diligent, and to persevere. Each day, we are being formed into an instrument that God can use.
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
Personally, it really helps me to remember that my Master is watching me as I tie shoes, change diapers, and wash dirty faces. I remember that I’m in the “evaluation period” of my heavenly career, training for management in God’s Kingdom. He’s especially watching for thankfulness, joyfulness, and singing as I work!
10. Follow the Example of Wise Women.
We all need good friends. However, we probably don’t need the kind of socialization that the world makes us think we can’t live without. Rather, Titus 2:3-4 says that we need wiser, older women in our lives, so that they can teach us. That’s a little different than phone conversations, play dates, and shopping trips.
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12).
We should try to “socialize” with wise women we can imitate. We’re looking for faithful, patient women who aren’t lazy.
“Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will serve before kings;
he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).
We’re looking for skillful women with good reputations.
“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).
When we find women like this, we should watch them, just like a toddler would hunch down to watch a busy ant colony. We should “consider” the ways of these women, then apply what we learn to our own lives to become wise.
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-8).
And we should stay away from those who are idle. They might make good Facebook friends, but they don’t make good real-life friends.
I don’t want to forget what it was like to have, say, a 4 year old, 2 year old, and newborn and look at a family like mine and think…..WHAT?! I am a testimony to God being able to do FAR greater than we could think to ask for. I spent a lot of time depressed and discouraged as a young mother so it is hilarious and redemptive that God would use me now to shout out: motherhood is a really, really JOYFUL thing. Not a picnic, but leading to a banquet. You CAN be a joyful mother of children. Traumatized children, sick children, goof-ball children, less-than-perfect-but-each-delightful children. Children need mothers, strong and joyful mothers who know who their God is. I am not much of a “how to” girl but more of a “Who to.” Follow the Lamb wherever He goes versus “How to fix everything in your life in 100 easy lessons.”
So I follow her blog to learn how to work hard and to serve others — with JOY! She’s an amazing mentor. Who do you follow?