Go watch the ants, you lazy person. Watch what they do and be wise. Ants have no commander, no leader or ruler, but they store up food in the summer and gather their supplies at harvest. How long will you lie there, you lazy person? When will you get up from sleeping? You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. So you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up. Proverbs 6:6-11
How do you struggle between relaxing and being lazy?
How do you struggle between being busy and being productive?
Summer can be a busy time, particularly because people’s schedules seem to be unusual. I didn’t say schedules seem to be light. Summer can actually be a very busy season because there’s a lot of extra activity. We try to fit in as much as possible, even if what we’re trying to fit in is rest and relaxation. Resting and relaxing aren’t bad things. We need to rest in God’s presence:
The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” (Exodus 33:14, NLT)
Let’s look at the same verse in a couple other translations. What do you learn?
God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” (The Message)
The Lord answered, “I myself will go with you, and I will give you victory.” (NCV)
The “rest” to which God was promising Moses (and the Israelites) wasn’t an extended vacation in a five-star hotel. God’s rest is not an easy road of peace and tranquility with freedom from all risk of enemies. Physically, the rest God was promising Moses was the promised land of Canaan. Spiritually, the rest God was promising was a way to eternal life with him. Remember, Jesus came to earth through the Israelite lineage. Even though the Israelites were under the old covenant when this promise was given, God could refer to the new covenant, which he knew would be coming.
The difference between rest and laziness is that laziness is not productive; rest is. Rest is given and blessed by God. It draws us closer to God, because when we rest in his presence and will, we’re relying on him. We’re submitting to him as our authority. We’re humble in his provision. When we’re lazy, we’re deciding what’s best for us. We’re “resting” in our own presence. We’re withdrawing from everything around us, including God. Our priority is ourselves over relationship with God.
When I consider what rest God has for me, I think of three meanings of the word that keep me on track with what God intends :
- peace of mind or spirit
- something used for support
- to remain
God’s rest is a peace of mind or spirit regardless of the situation. Moses and the Israelites were not where they wanted to be. They didn’t completely understand God’s plan and timing – although he was pretty clear about what was happening – but he still had intentions of giving them rest, not only in the future when they reached the promised land but also through the process with his continued provision. Because of God’s presence, he is giving us constant, reliable support. His rest isn’t always easy to accept, but it is always supportive. God always knows what we need when we need it even when we feel uncomfortable where he has us. Finally, God’s rest remains. God’s provision of rest is not a stopping point; it’s a door that ushers us into the best he has for us. When God promised the Israelites rest in the form of their promised land, he was expanding their borders beyond what they could imagine. We can think of “the rest” of something as the leftovers, but that’s not the case when God promises us rest. He is reserving the best for us. All we have to do is remain in his presence, trusting him for the journey, and what “rest” we reach is beyond our comprehension. The rest God promises us under the new covenant is eternal life with him in heaven. All we have to do is live this life in a relationship with his Son, Jesus. All we have to do is trust God’s promise and provision.
God’s rest is productive, so when we rest in him, we are productive as well. Productivity doesn’t equal busyness.
When have you been productive through a time you wouldn’t equate with busyness?
When have you been busy but not very productive?
Productivity isn’t defined by the world’s standards. Productivity is defined by God. The instruction given in Proverbs 6 indicates the way to ward off laziness is to work with wisdom. In other words, rely on God for guidance. Do what he says you’re supposed to do. Live as he says you’re supposed to live.
Perhaps you struggle to know exactly what living the life God intends looks like for you right now. God doesn’t always get specific in his instruction (although he does sometimes), but the Bible is filled with instruction. Plus, God gives his followers the Holy Spirit to guide them. The problem is most of us whine about not knowing what we should do and we either get frozen in inaction or we decide we have to at least do something, so we take charge of the situation. Either way, when we respond without God, we’re developing habits of not responding with God. We might not know the specifics, but the only way we’re going to be guided by God and be assured he’s the one guiding us is by knowing him. Don’t wait until the moment of decision when you need to hear from him. Communicate with him regularly. Get familiar with his Word. Build godly relationships with people who will encourage, challenge, and hold you accountable.
Even the best planted fields will not flourish if ignored through the summer. Be attentive through every season. If you’re not in close relationship with God, no matter how much you’re enjoying the benefits of your season, you will not be fully reaping the benefits of what you’ve done in the previous seasons, and you won’t be accomplishing what needs to be done for future seasons.