Wisdom Wednesday – Stop Your Dream’n Start Your Do’n
Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”
Each year there’s a top draft pick in the NFL who “has all the talent in the world, but lacks commitment to put in the work.” Because of this, they underachieve and end up failing to stick in the league. They came in with great dreams of hoisting championship trophies and having their bust placed in the Hall of Fame. But those dreams will not come to pass – not necessarily because they weren’t good enough, but because they had a flaw that cripples even the most gifted of athletes. They are what the Bible calls “sluggards.”
A “sluggard” is someone who isn’t willing to put hard work and extra hours into the task laid before them. The sluggard has a dream but he lacks planning, initiation, persevering and the discipline to act upon his desires. You can desire a high school diploma, but if you won’t go to class, won’t crack a book, won’t study – then you won’t graduate. Achievement requires effort.
A “diligent” person is someone who is willing to put in the effort. They come early, stay late and work hard while they’re there. They make goals, make plans and carry them out. They are willing to endure setbacks and overcome opposition. They believe that the desire they have is worth the blood, sweat, and tears it requires to achieve it.
The difference between the sluggard and the diligent is not the desire. Both people have a desire. The difference is acting on that desire. As a friend once told me, “all men have great ideas in the shower, but the great men are the ones who get out of the shower and act on them.”
This difference between the sluggard and the diligent is seen in every area of life, including our walks with the Lord. Being used of the Lord is something that begins with grace, is carried through by grace, and will be completed by grace. This is true. But the fact that God supplies abundant grace doesn’t mean that we lack responsibility to engage and be diligent in the work He has called us to do.
As an old pastor friends used to say, we must not “lean on a shovel and pray for a hole.” God has given us tasks to do. He gives us desires to do it. He gives us energy and strength to carry it out. But for us to be lazy and expect things to “just happen” is the mark of a fool.
Certainly God helps those who can’t help themselves. This is the heart of grace. This proverb isn’t talking about earning our way to heaven or working in our own strength. This is drawing our attention to the fact that we need to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7) and engage boldly trusting that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
The sluggard craves the fruit of diligence without the diligence that gains it. Having a heart that is lazy toward the Lord and the great task He has laid before us is eternally more concerning than an athlete who won’t do extra wind sprints. As Charles Bridges said, “the halting step will not bring us to God. To expect the blessing without diligence is delusion.”
Are you diligent in seeking God? Do you desire to be near to Him and be used greatly by Him? Those are good desires, but desire without diligence is not promising. The diligent are richly supplied, not the sluggard. We must read. We must study. We must pray. We must engage with other people about spiritual realities.
Here’s an insightful quote from D.A. Carson on this subject, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”
May we be a people who are marked by grace and diligence. May the Lord richly supply us with more of Him and more opportunities to make His Name known.