Being Industrious in our Temporal Affairs

What Message Does Inspiration Give Us Concerning Being Industrious in Our Temporal Affairs?  by Ted Robertson  -  Oct. 22, 2011

In order to gain perspective on this topic, let us take a look at a quote from the Pen of Inspiration:

Life is too solemn to be absorbed in temporal and earthly matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the things that are but an atom in comparison with the things of eternal interest.  Yet God has called us to serve Him in the temporal affairs of life.  Diligence in this work is as much a part of true religion as is devotion.  The Bible gives no endorsement to idleness.  It is the greatest curse that afflicts our world.  Every man and woman who is truly converted will be a diligent worker. — White, Ellen G.  Christ’s Object Lessons, 343

And certainly we can see this endorsed in the book of wisdom

   The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.    Proverbs 21:5

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat .  Proverbs 13:4

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing:
but righteousness delivereth from death.
The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish:
but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand:
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
He that gathereth in summer is a wise son:
but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.  Proverbs 10:2-5

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks,
and look well to thy herds:
for riches are not for ever:
and doth the crown endure to every generation?   Proverbs 27: 23-24

and from Paul

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.    1 Timothy 5:8

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

On these texts, Sister White has the following comments regarding an individual struggling with industriousness – the principles of which we can certainly apply:

"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men."  "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand:  but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."  "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."

The many admonitions to diligence found in both the Old and the New Testament plainly indicate the intimate relation existing between our habits of life and our religious feelings and practices.  The human mind and body are so constituted that plenty of exercise is necessary in order to a proper development of all the faculties.  While many are too much engaged in worldly business, others go to the opposite extreme and do not labor sufficiently to support themselves or those dependent upon them.  Brother ----- is one of this class.

 While he occupies the position of house band to his family he is not this in reality.  The heaviest responsibilities and burdens he allows to rest upon his wife, while he indulges in careless indolence or busies himself about small matters that tell little for the support of his family.  He will sit for hours and chat with his sons or his neighbors upon matters of no great consequence.  He takes things easy and enjoys himself while the wife and mother does the work which must be done to prepare food to eat and clothes to wear.

This brother is a poor man and always will be a burden to society unless he asserts his God-given privilege and becomes a man.  Anyone can find work of some kind to do if he really desires it; but if he is careless and inattentive, the positions which he might have secured he will find filled by those who had greater activity and business tact.

God never designed that you, my brother, should be in the position of poverty that you are now in.  Why did He give you that physical frame?  You are just as responsible for your physical powers as your brethren are for their means.  Some of these would today be gainers could they exchange their property for your physical strength.  But if placed in your position, they would, by a diligent use of both mental and physical powers, soon be above want and owe no man anything.  It is not because God owes you a grudge that circumstances appear to be against you, but because you do not use the strength He has given you.  He did not intend that your powers should rust by inaction, but that they should strengthen by use.

The religion you profess makes it as much your duty to employ your time during the six working days as to attend church on the Sabbath.  You are not diligent in business.  You let hours, days, and even weeks pass without accomplishing anything.  The very best sermon you could preach to the world would be to show a decided reformation in your life, and provide for your own family.  Says the apostle:  "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

You bring a reproach upon the cause by locating in a place, where you indulge indolence for a time and then are obliged to run in debt for provision for your family.  These your honest debts you are not always particular to pay, but, instead, move to another place.  This is defrauding your neighbor.  The world has a right to expect strict integrity in those who profess to be Bible Christians.  By one man's indifference in regard to paying his just dues, all our people are in danger of being regarded as unreliable.

"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."  This refers to those who labor with their hands as well as to those who have gifts to bestow.  God has given you strength and skill, but you have not used them.

Your strength is sufficient to abundantly support your family.  Rise in the morning, even while the stars are shining, if need be.  Lay your plans to do something, and then accomplish it.  Redeem every pledge unless sickness lays you prostrate.  Better deny yourself food and sleep than be guilty of keeping from others their just dues.
– White, Ellen.  Testimonies for the Church.  vol. 5.  pp. 178-180.

Of course, we should balance our temporal affairs with our spiritual time and work for the Lord

There is a work for every Christian to do right at his own door, in his own neighborhood.  But how many lose sight of eternal interests and are completely swallowed up in their temporal affairs.  There is no necessity for this, for Jesus says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Make your own and your neighbor’s eternal welfare the first and most important consideration.  Your neighbors have souls to save or to lose, and God expects those to whom he has given the light, to make decided, interested efforts for others.  They must remember the holy claims of the truth in every transaction of life.  Let believers and unbelievers see in the life of those who claim to have a knowledge of advanced truth, a steady, clear, strong light shining forth in zeal, in devotion, in nobility of character, in their dealings with men.  Then the Lord will deal bountifully with you, his servants.  We should take time to pray.  The time is all the Lord’s, and we should be careful not to give others, in our example, a specimen of how we may rob God.  Do not steal the time that should be given to God’s service, and for gaining spiritual strength, and appropriate an extra half hour to your temporal affairs.  May God forbid that those who have had the light of the truth, shall be found as were the foolish virgins, without oil in their vessels. –  Ellen G. White,  Signs of the Times.  Feb. 10, 1890.

The example of Daniel and his friends shows us that we can improve our abilities through good diet

Daniel 1:8-20.

By following biblical principles and applying them in spiritual life and in our everyday life,
we, too, can like Samuel and Jesus increase in favor with God and man:

And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD, and also with men.  1 Samuel 2:26

Proverbs 3:1-4

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.  Luke 2:52

The Bible is a wiser counselor in our temporal affairs than any we can find here on Earth:

God has given us His Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Its teachings have a vital bearing on our prosperity in all the relations of life. Even in our temporal affairs it will be a wiser guide than any other counselor.... --  Ellen G. White,   In Heavenly Places.  Page 135.

We should remember that true success comes from opportunities given by God that we work at:

True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny.  It is the outworking of God's providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance.  Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident.  God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. – Prophets and Kings, p. 486.

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