544: Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing
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Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing
In 1974, Billy Preston, affectionally known as the fifth Beatle, had one of his major hits with the song “Nothing from Nothing,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in October of that year. There was not much substance to the lyrics of his song, just a catchy phrase and an upbeat melody, but the overriding message of the title still rings true today. If you put nothing in, you’ll get nothing out. There is no free ride, no free lunch. Success doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of hard work. Nothing is ever truly free, it always costs someone, something.
Same is true in our spiritual lives. Even the free gift of salvation cost Christ His life. Jesus said we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23). Likewise, in the wilderness where God provided manna to feed His children for forty years, He still required them to get off their backsides and go out each morning and pick it up. God didn’t employ Door Dash to foster their laziness.
We see God’s admonitions against the lazy and slothful throughout the Proverbs. Let’s take this passage, for example.
The soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich – Proverbs 13:4.
And, as usual, we need to understand what the verse says before we can determine what it means.
The soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)
of a lazy man (ʿāṣēl – sluggish, slothful, useless, someone who will always fail because of laziness that becomes moral failure, a person who is undisciplined to work or exert himself)
desires (ʾāwāh – to want strongly, to long for, to crave)
and has nothing (ʾayin – none, no, not, nothing, nonexistence, without. Note: “he hates the process by which results are to be obtained”);
but (conjunction, contrast)
the soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)
of the diligent (ḥārûṣ – sharp, industrious, a person who is characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks. Note: diligence is not satisfied with desire, but with possession)
shall be made rich (dāšēn – to be satisfied, to grow fat, having an abundance, thrive, to be made prosperous, to be richly supplied).
So what is this passage saying? And what lessons can we take home from the life of a lazy, slothful, sluggard?
What Can We Learn from a Lazy Man?
Looking elsewhere in Proverbs, we find the lazy man will begin nothing. He is content to live in whatever squalor his apathy and laziness provide. He has no internal motivation to better himself other than the growl in his belly and will work only long enough to silence it for one day. What a sad state of a human being, especially a Christian.
How long will you slumber, O sluggard? (No answer) When will you rise from your sleep? (Again, he doesn’t know) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man – Proverbs 6:9-11.
We also discover that, if on a wild whim, the lazy man actually begins something, he will never finish it. Just beginning zaps all his energy and drive and whatever impulse prompted him to start, it is never enough to see the task to completion.
The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession – Proverbs 12:27.
He works to accomplish something and then lets it spoil because he is too tired or too lazy to finish what he began.
A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again – Proverbs 19:24.
And the next verse tells us the why for the lazy man’s behavior.
The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth – Proverbs 26:15.
The lazy man is full of excuses why his friends view him as a failure, or maybe a bum. And any excuse, no matter how bizarre, seems right in his own eyes.
The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” – Proverbs 22:13.
And finally, the lazy man has nothing to look forward to other than a tough time. Why? Because he has needlessly forfeited many of the blessings belonging to him because of his unwillingness to make the effort to acquire them for himself.
The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway – Proverbs 15:19.
But note, this passage does not refer to money exclusively. It also refers to our relationship with Him and the effort we are willing to make to grow in our faith. After all, we put nothing in, we can expect nothing out. We don’t show up for the game, we will not play. It’s just that simple. And it’s no one’s fault but our own.
Join us today and let’s discover the importance of putting in the effort spiritually to grow in our faith as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.