September 5: “Sharpen Your Ax”

7 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Ecclesiastes 10:1–12:14
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Psalm 49:1-20
Proverbs 22:20-21

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NLT): “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Imagine someone who is using an ax to cut down a tree. That ax, at one time, was razor-sharp. When it was swung at the side of a tree, it always cut deep into the wood.

But, after much use, it had become dull. The edge was no longer sharp. Some might even exaggerate a bit and say that “it couldn’t cut butter.”

Here’s the question: Which takes more effort to cut the tree down, a razor-sharp ax or a dull ax? The answer is clear, isn’t it? The duller the ax becomes, the more effort is required.

This is a very simple principle to understand, and it applies to so many areas of our life.

There are times that we need to stop working in order to get things back into good working order. While there may be much work to be done, we are doing ourselves a favor in that ‘downtime’ because we are rejuvenating our resources.

This principle applies to so many areas of life:

Take one day off a week (Sabbath) to get rested and rejuvenated for the next week (Exodus 20:8–11). You will be much more effective in those six days if you rest (sharpen the saw) on the seventh than if you never take a day off.

Read or take a course to improve a needed skill. Even though you are not working during the self-improvement (sharpening the saw), it will enable you to be much more effective when you get back to work.

Essentially, that last point was what Solomon was encouraging in Ecclesiastes 10:10. While taking time out of our busy schedule to read and gain wisdom may be looked down on by others (maybe some will say it is laziness), it is a brilliant use of time if our intention is to gain information to be more effective when we are working.

Look for those areas of your life in which you are much less effective than you used to be. Consider why you are having to exert more energy just to accomplish what once took much less effort. When you discover what has grown dull from use, take time to “sharpen the ax.”

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, we live in a busy society. In fact, most people love to brag about how busy they are. It seems that our culture has learned to place our personal value upon the work we do. Lord, I know that You desire for us to have a good work ethic, but You also commanded us to take a weekly Sabbath day’s rest. On that day, we are to relax and get ourselves rejuvenated for the next 6 days. Help me to look for ways to apply this life-giving principle to my life. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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