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You’re Only Cheating Yourself

Surely everybody has heard that sentence at one time or another, “You’re only cheating yourself!”  It may have been spoken to a group of students that just did not do an assignment they were given with any degree of effort.  Perhaps it was a coach that was fussing at a team that did not have their heart in doing drills in practice.  Maybe it was a parent admonishing a child that chooses not to apply themselves to a task that was given.

No matter the setting, the point is that when a person seeks to get by with something less than giving one’s best, the result is that one can develop a pattern of slothfulness, laziness, and very lackluster performance.  It seems that there are a great number of people who are willing to spend tons of time on perfecting things that don’t matter while ignoring greater tasks that would serve them well in life.

Zig Ziglar told the story of a thief, a man named Emmanuel Nenger. The year is 1887. The scene is a small neighborhood grocery store. Mr. Nenger is buying some turnip greens. He gives the clerk a $20 bill. As the clerk begins to put the money in the cash drawer to give Mr. Nenger his change, she notices some of the ink from the $20 bill is coming off on her fingers which are damp from the turnip greens. She looks at Mr. Nenger, a man she has known for years. She looks at the smudged bill. This man is a trusted friend; she has known him all her life; he can’t be a counterfeiter. She gives Mr. Nenger his change, and he leaves the store.

But $20 is a lot of money in 1887, and eventually the clerk calls the police. They verify the bill as counterfeit and get a search warrant to look through Mr. Nenger’s home. In the attic they find where he is reproducing money. He is a master artist and is painting $20 bills with brushes and paint! But also, in the attic they find three portraits Nenger had painted. They seized these and eventually sold them at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency, remember) or a little more than $5,000 per painting. The irony is that it took Nenger almost as long to paint a $20 bill as it did for him to paint a $5,000 portrait!

It’s true that Emanuel Nenger was a thief, but the person from whom he stole the most was himself.  (Copied).

Skills are only meaningful if we use them to bless others, provide a needed service, perform critical duties that can assist others, and provide for others some much needed aid to make life better. We are warned in Scripture about being lazy, self-absorbed, and selfish.  Consider Proverbs 6:6-11 as written in THE MESSAGE….

You lazy fool, look at an ant. watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions.  So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?  How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?  Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!