There are those who know how to use their time wisely as they diligently prepare for the future of their family and their home in heaven, but there are also those who use their time unwisely who live for themselves and embrace laziness. A good example of the difference between the diligent and the lazy and their consequence comes from the well-known Aesop fable:


The Ant and the Grasshopper


IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. 


“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” 


“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” 


“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: “It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.”


When we fail to prepare for our family’s future or for our future home in heaven, we will suffer the consequences of our laziness. The Book of Proverbs has much to say about how we should use our time wisely by being diligent workers instead of lazy ones. Much like the Ant and the Grasshopper, we will discover how wise it is to be diligent as opposed to being lazy.


Proverbs 6:6 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.


Like our fable, Solomon uses the ant as an example of how we are to be diligent in whatever we do. It is amazing to watch one of God’s busiest creatures at work. They take advantage of every opportunity to prepare their home for the days when it is not fit to work. They explore their area looking for food and they carry it back to their home so they can store it. When things get in the way they figure out a way to move it or go around it.


If we want to use our time wisely, we must learn from the ant and take advantage of the time we have whether it be laboring for our family or for the kingdom of God. As Paul said, we need to “redeem the time, because the day are evil” (Eph. 5:16). Jesus believed in this principle as well because He said:


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.


Jesus knew His work would be short on the earth, so He pressed on daily to serve the Father and to prepare His disciples to carry on His work. The night Jesus speaks of is referring to death when no one can work.


Solomon also teaches his son that the sluggard who simply folds his hands and sleeps all the time will not be successful in this life. He will find himself in want and deep poverty. Like the grasshopper, the lazy will find themselves envying what the diligent have. We have just begun, but it is easy to see that is much wiser to be a diligent worker with the time we have instead of being lazy.


The Book of Proverbs encourages us not to be lazy. 


Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;  31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down.  32 When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:  33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest;  34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.


Maintaining a vineyard takes a lot of work. Our text tells us what happens when a lazy man is charge. He allows the thorns to grow, he does not keep the ground free from nettles, and he fails to keep the protective wall in shape. His laziness will not allow the vineyard to grow like it should, which means that it will yield little produce. Since he is more interested in resting, he will soon find himself in poverty. Laziness gets nothing done, and if we are not careful, we can get caught up in this bad habit.


Solomon also says:


Proverbs 20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.


Laziness begets laziness. Once we convince ourselves that it is too cold, too wet, or too windy to do what is necessary, we will get to the point where the conditions will never be right for work. For example:


Proverbs 26:13 The lazy man says, "There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!"  14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed.


When the lazy say things like this, they are just giving excuses. The lazy can use just about any excuse to justify not working no matter how ridiculous it might be. Yet the lazy are always ready to share in the fruits of other people’s labor. I am reminded of the story of “The Little Red Hen.”


To summarize this story, there was a little red hen that had three friends, a lazy dog, a sleepy cat, and noisy yellow duck. She founds some seeds and wanted to plant them, but not her friends wanted to help. As the story continues, she ask her friends to help with cutting the wheat that grew from the seeds, to take it to the mill to be ground into flour, and finally asked them to help her bake a loaf of bread from it. But every time she asked, none of them wanted to help. Once the labor was done and the bread was ready she asked her friends if they would like to help her eat it the bread. Of course, all of them said, “yes,” but the little red hen said “no” and at all the bread up herself.


This story reminds me of what Paul said: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat (2 Thess. 3:10). There are many people in our country that are capable of working, but they are too lazy to work because they would rather allow the government or others provide for them. Those who take advantage of the generosity of others who really do not need it would learn to overcome their laziness if Paul’s words were law. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about those who legitimately need help, but those who pretend to need help.


What is sad is that the lazy could have so much more than what they can get from other’s generosity. While they get to be lazy Solomon says:


Proverbs 13:4  The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;


Again he says:


Prov. 26:16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.


The lazy think they are so smart because they are able to find people who will give them money, food, and clothes, but they are always in want. If they would open their eyes and see the folly of their laziness, they could see that they are capable of getting those things they desire instead of having nothing. All it takes is little motivation and ambition. With some effort on their part, they could provide a more enjoyable existence for their family.  Paul offers some strong words for people who do not take care of their family:


1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  


So, laziness cannot be part of the Christian life. As illustrated in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, laziness will cause one to be cast out into outer darkness, which represents hell. Not only is the Christian not to be lazy when it comes to taking care of his family, he is not to be lazy when it comes to laboring in God’s kingdom.


From the beginning of time God has wanted His creation to work. Even though God provided Adam and Eve with the perfect garden, they still had to tend and keep it:


Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.


During the time of Moses, six days were for work and the seventh day was for rest (Exod. 23:12).


Exodus 23:12 "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.


While God wants us to use our time to stay busy, He also understands the need for us to rest. Even God rested from His labors after the six days of creation (Gen. 2:2).


Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 


We also find Jesus recommending his disciples rest from all their labors as well because they had not even time to eat (Mk. 6:31).


Mark 6:31 And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.


There is a big difference between resting from your labors and being lazy because the diligent only rest to refresh themselves so they can work again, but the lazy just rest to rest some more.


The book of Proverbs encourages us to be diligent workers. As Solomon said:


Ecclesiastes 9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; 


The diligent are highly motivated to give their best when they work for others or for the Lord. Paul also emphasizes how Christians must be diligent workers in whatever they do (Col. 3:23-24).


Colossians 3:23And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 


When we work for others we should work for them as if God is our boss, which means we should work heartily or with enthusiasm as we give our boss our best effort. As Jesus said:


Matthew 5:16  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


Not only should we have a good work ethic in our jobs, we should give our best to God as we labor in His kingdom. As Paul said, we are to “do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20) and there should be no lack of diligence on our part (Rom. 12:11).


Solomon teaches us that there are many benefits of being a diligent worker.


Proverbs 22:29 Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.


Usually, hard work does not go unnoticed. Whether we are working for our country or for a small business our dedication of giving our best to those we work for will gain their respect. We will not stand in the same class as everyone else that is just doing what they can to get by. Our employer will recognize how essential we are to the success of his business and hold us in high honor.


Even if we are being taken advantage of by our employer and not being recognized for our diligence, we can still rejoice knowing that God knows we are giving our best and that we are glorifying Him. When we use our time wisely as we work for others and for God, we can know it will cause us to be able to stand justified before the King of kings. As Paul said:


1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.


Proverbs 10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.


Those who choose not to give their best will many times become poor because the lazy tend to lose their job, but a diligent worker will usually excel in their job and will receive promotions, which equates to more money. The diligent do not just make plans and hope their plans will happen. No, they begin working at making their plan turn out. The lazy are just the opposite because they make many plans in their head, but make no effort to make their plans become a reality. A lack of ambition is almost always followed by failure and poverty.


Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.


Those who are too lazy to work are also to lazy to fight for their freedom, and they will be the ones that are made into slaves or will always be under the authority of someone else. However, a diligent worker is one that will fight for their freedom and will continually pursue ways to provide for their family, which means they will usually be put in charge and will rule over the lazy. Besides, being a ruler takes effort, which is an ugly word to the lazy.


Not only will be diligent with our time cause us to have success in this life it will cause us to have our reward in heaven. Like master told the his two faithful servants


Matthew 25:21  Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'


In conclusion, we have learned the importance of using our time wisely and the difference between the diligent and the lazy. The diligent get things done while the lazy do not. The diligent are pleasing to God, but the lazy are not. As the master told his lazy servant:


Matthew 25:26 You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  27 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  28 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


While the diligent are held in high honor and praised for their effort, the lazy are not admired and nothing good is said of them. Solomon also shows just how lazy the lazy can be (Prov. 12:27; 26:14-15).


Proverbs 12:27  The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting,

Proverbs 26:14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 


Clearly the best way to use our time wisely is to be diligent workers for others and the Lord and to rest from time to time to refresh our vigor. As Christians, we must avoid being lazy in all aspects of our life as we give our best to God.