Thursday, August 5, 2021

To the ant, work is wisdom

 Read Proverbs 6

Don’t’ make promises that you can’t keep, but if you do, beg for forgiveness and to be released from your promise.

Don’t do stupid stuff, but if you do, find a way to honorably end the mess you have gotten into.  Ask for mercy.

If you have gotten yourself into a mess, then getting yourself out of that mess has become one of your top priorities.

Don’t get yourself into a mess because you are lazy.  Look at the example of the ant.  It doesn’t have to be ordered around, yet it works in season to provision itself.

For the ant, work is wisdom.  For the sluggard, such wisdom is elusive.  Break the cycle or else suffer the consequences.

What consequences?  Poverty.  Poverty is the fruit of laziness. The one labeled sluggard is the personification of poverty.

It is hard for me to talk about poverty without again returning to purpose.  Purpose and poverty are diametrically opposed.  Let’s consider them in the context of time. (Adapted from PoMo Poverty)

So many people can’t pay their bills, can’t find a job, and have more time on their hands than they know what to do with.  There should be an oxymoron or two somewhere in that statement.

I have seen a wide range of reactions—from tears to anger so pronounced that veins were about ready to pop out of the person’s neck--when I ask someone who is out of work these questions.

How many hours a week do you want to work?

The most popular answer is, “I dunno.”

So I respond, “How about 40?  That’s something of a traditional work week.”

Usually, the reply is, “Yeah, OK, that sounds good.  Unless I can get some overtime.”

So I respond, “How much overtime?”

The answer is predictable, “I dunno.”

So I continue with the three questions for one answer game.  “How about 20 hours overtime?”

“Yeah, OK, that sounds good.  Unless I can get more.”

“How much more.”

Don’t laugh.  “I dunno.”

“Let’s just say another 10 hours.  That makes a total of 40 hours regular time and 30 hours overtime.  That’s 70 hours a week.  Can you handle that?”


The affirmative answer should not convey any degree of confidence or commitment.  Usually by this point, people are just getting upset that I haven’t thrown in the towel and opened the vault of money piled high for people who are out of work and have become exhausted by trying to figure out how much they might be willing to work in a week. 

It is at this point where people really don’t like me.  I say, “You need to spend 70 hours a week looking for a job.  Not sitting at home wishing someone would call you with a top-level executive job, getting off your butt, hitting the pavement, and finding a job.”

The most common response: “Well, I don’t have time.”

The dichotomy of not having the time to find a job for which one hopes to work at enough be paid overtime seldom registers with the unemployed sluggard.

When I say that finding a job is your job until you are hired, you might think that I had said terrible things about the family lineage.

This is poverty.

People have plenty of time to dwell in self-pity.

People have no time to help themselves.


Working as a counselor with inmates, most of whom had several years remaining on their sentences, I learned a term for what so many who live in the poverty of time do.  It’s called running your story.

The inmate with years to do and no place to go will gladly tell you his whole story from the beginning at every chance—except when it’s time for chow or recreation.  He does not value time, especially yours.

It seems that the sluggard also does not value his time or yours.  He has plenty of time to spend with someone who is doing purposeful things, but none to spend looking for a job.  He has acquired the art of running his story and values neither his own time nor the time of others.


Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12


Each of us is granted 86,400 seconds in a day.

People of purpose cherish each second.

People of poverty just wait for them to pass.


People of purpose realize what they give when they give another person time.

People of poverty neither recognize what time they have nor what time another is giving.


The paradox is that people who value time, give it readily for the right reasons.

People, who habitually waste time, seldom engage in productive endeavors.  They just don’t have the time.


We may have all encountered different obstacles, painful experiences, or had the break of a lifetime.  We don’t all start from the same point.  Some are ahead or behind others in wealth, education, status, and other measurable areas.

But we all are granted the same amount of time each day.

Purposeful people invest their time.

It is a poverty mindset to waste it.


Want to see the intersection of time and money in the modern world of poverty?

Go to the convenience store.

Fountain drinks.

Fast food.


Energy drinks.


And two or three bags of chips.


That leaves $5 in change.  Better get another pack of cigarettes.

Just as well spend it here.  The water bill was $52.  Didn’t have enough to pay it anyway.


I like convenience stores.  They are convenient.  There is no grocery store in the town where I live, so convenience stores save me the $10 in gas and most of an hour in time to get the one or two items that ran out before my next scheduled trip to the grocery store.

People become addicted to the immediate gratification of the convenience store.  Many don’t even know how to make a shopping list.  They just go to the convenience store, and then decide what they need.

Convenience stores are all located at the same place in the land of the sluggard.  They are at the corner of time and money and are irresistible to those who do not know how to value either.

Time is money.

Benjamin Franklin

This part of the chapter is simple.  If you get yourself into a mess, your first priority is getting out of it.

If you are lazy—the word Solomon chose was sluggard—then you are on a course to a life of poverty.  Follow the basic example of the ant.  Work and provide for yourself.  Work and save up for later.  Work and give no purchase to laziness.

If you are lazy, begin your journey with this simple mantra—work is wisdom.

Work does not become your God.  It is not something to which you should become addicted.  It is your lifeline out of laziness and your vaccine against poverty.

Work is how you liberate yourself from laziness. For the one susceptible to laziness, consider the example of the ant.  Work is wisdom.



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