Its an old story that bears repeating. A country parson was making his rounds, visiting the souls under his care. As he neared the farm of one of his newest members, he could not help noticing the improvements the hardworking man had already made in what had once been a poor piece of farm acreage.
Where there had been dilapidated outbuildings, there were now a new shed and a freshly painted barn. All the equipment was obviously being maintained well. The animals were healthy, and the fields were under cultivation. The place could hardly have looked better. So the preacher was determined to praise the farmers hard work being careful, of course, to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in it all.
Russell, you and the Good Lord have worked wonders with this place! he allowed. Ive not seen a better looking farm anywhere in the county this spring.
Thank you kindly, parson, said Russell, but you should have seen the place when the Lord had the whole thing to himself. It was a disaster.
The fellow meant nothing irreverent by his comment. He took his partnership with God seriously, believing that it really mattered and affected the outcome.
By his precious grace, God gives human beings the power to identify with him in exercising sovereignty over Planet Earth. And he wants us to be as earnest in our part of the task as he has been in his. Thus the Bibles Book of Proverbs is filled with counsel about diligence. Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth (10:4). The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied (13:4). A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing (20:4).
He took his partnership with God seriously.|
Work is not a curse, but unemployment or idleness is. Adam was to tend, subdue, and master the Garden of Eden. Yes, sin made Adams task harder by virtue of the thorns and thistles it introduced into his environment. But work was part of the original and ideal arrangement of paradise.
Cervantes said, Diligence is the mother of good fortune. In spite of the pronounced tendency in our time to doubt such a maxim, it is true nonetheless. Rather than envy the person who somehow manages to get by without hard work, pity him instead for having failed to develop a primary habit that is necessary to virtue.
God saves us by his lavish grace; that affirmation is good theology. People saved by grace partner with God in productive work; that behavior is noble character.
From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See http://www.faithmatters.com for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."