“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.” (Proverbs 6:10-11)
I recently read an article, explaining that there is a huge market for sleep products (beds, pillows, & technology). It suggested that young adults (those under 40), love-Love-LOVE the idea of being able to sleep and justify it as self-care, rejection of the tyranny of self-improvement (YOLO), and rebellion against overworking parents. Some of us might completely agree with this idea. Matthew 11:28 says that Jesus came to give us rest! God rested on the seventh day, according to Genesis 2:3! Again in Exodus 20:8, we are to keep the sabbath holy (and rest)! There is a lot of medical science affirming the value of sleep. You can’t really argue against that…
Proverbs 6:10-11 really struck me as we have been going through this book. I vividly remember times where I just wanted to “close my eyes, for a little” or just “get some much deserved rest” but I am warned by the writer that trouble comes if that’s always my response. Like an unwanted visitor or thief, suddenly you may experience poverty and may be stuck in a troubling situation. A robber doesn’t give warning but will take from and hurt you. Proverbs 26:15 says, “The slacker buries his hand in the bowl, he is too weary to bring it to his mouth!” The slacker previously appears in Proverbs 22:13, saying, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!” The apostle Paul writes to Timothy that the one who does not provide for his family is cursed (1 Tim 5:8). There are other verses talking about working hard, using the gifts and resources God has provided, and taking care of our responsibilities.
So what do I do? How do I handle situations where there appears to be conflicting guidance between resting and working hard? How can I know God’s will for my life? The answer: read God’s word. Don’t just read the parts you like and ignore the rest. Don’t skip the parts with “long lists.” Don’t ignore the sections that are difficult to interpret. Just do it – read, study, and learn God’s instructions to us. Paul encourages all of us to “be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
Don’t just read the Internet, hear friends talk, or watch some video and believe it. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” The way to handle this situation is to rest, and trust God and also work hard, and glorify God – it’s both/and and having the wisdom to know which one applies (wisdom can be gained by the application of knowledge through practice). Read the Bible, His word to us, and apply the whole counsel of God’s instructions in the situations you face and to the questions that come up.