She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
With Mother’s Day coming up in a week and a half it is appropriate to talk about some of the characteristics of a mother found in the Bible. Naomi, from the book of Ruth, appears to be a woman who lived her faith despite difficulties and loss. It is in the dark times that true character shows its face. Naomi followed her husband to a foreign land. There she lost her husband and her two sons. Ruth’s grieving mother-in-law exemplified selflessness, industriousness, and faith.
I wrote earlier about selflessness. Today I would like to reflect on industrious. Naomi repeatedly took initiative in her decisions. She didn’t wait for someone to tell her to go home. She announced to her daughters-in-law that she was going. She didn’t wait for Ruth to come up with a plan for providing food once she arrived back home. She sent Ruth out to glean. She didn’t wait for a kinsman-redeemer to come asking for Ruth’s hand, she came up with a plan to approach Boaz.
Industriousness seems to be a lost character quality in our day. When troubles arise we wait for someone to bail us out, and when they are too slow, we complain. When I was going to seminary I was washing windows. I started working for a small company that had been started by a seminary student. When he graduated he sold his business to an employee. I went to work for him. Eventually I ended up buying part of his business. I still did some work for him while working to expand my business in another part of the city. I had dreams of growing my window cleaning business to the point where I could have several guys working for me. I quickly discovered that lots of people wanted a paid position, but few wanted to actually work. Yet God created us to work. Work is not a bad word. Work reflects the God who created us. Six days he worked. The seventh he rested. In fact, in John 5:17 Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” We were created to be industrious.
 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.  For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
If people are unable to work, then we have the responsibility to care for them, but we must be careful how we help. Help should always elevate the value of a person, not dehumanize them. It should be a boost up whenever possible. It is hard to accept help. Our pride gets in the way. Sometimes we need to learn to accept help graciously. But more often we need to learn to step up and work. That is how we were designed. When we find ourselves struggling, like Naomi, don’t just wait around for help. Pray for wisdom and insight, and then step out and do what you can. Proverbs warns,
Proverbs 26:13-15 (ESV)
 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”
 As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.
 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.
Two chapters later it reminds us “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
than a rich man who is crooked in his ways” (Prov 28:6). During this time of quarantine and isolation we might be tempted to get lazy. Rather, may we follow the example of Naomi. By the grace of God, may we demonstrate the character quality of industriousness no matter what the world throws at us. Work is not a bad word.