Category Archives: Work

Little Is Much

Proverbs 13:23

“Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.”
“A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.” NIV

We Complain 

Many times we complain about what we don’t have rather than thank God for what we do have. Have you ever complained about how small your house is, how old your car is, or how out of style your clothes are?  Sure you have. And you know, of course, that there are plenty of people out there who don’t even have a roof to sleep under, much less a new car or stylish clothes.

It might be a shock to you, but even pastors (ministers, preachers, bishops) have times when they complain about the “field” they are called to plow. I have done it. I even did it today, right before I read Proverbs 13:23.

We Whine

Today [at the time of this writing] we had a death in our church. The loss of this key member has been a blow to all of our congregation. And being that our numbers are small, the loss of any member is painful, especially when growth has been extremely slow.

At one point I began to feel anxious. I asked God, “How can we grow a church if our younger adults start dying?” I thought to myself, “If we lose many more, we won’t be able to pay our utility bills, not to mention the little I get to feed my family.” For a moment I considered this field too small for even a minimal harvest.

No Excuses

Then I read this proverb. Then I read what the wise Matthew Henry had to say. Then I felt ashamed.

See…[how] a small estate may be improved by industry, so that a man, by making the best of every thing, may live comfortably upon it: Much food is in the tillage of the poor, the poor farmers, that have but a little, but take pains with that little and husband it well. Many make it an excuse for their idleness that they have but a little to work on, a very little to be doing with; but the less compass the field is of the more let the skill and labour of the owner be employed about it, and it will turn to a very good account. Let him dig, and he needs not beg.[1]

Sounds like I need to just get back out in the field and turn the soil, doesn’t it? A small field can be full of produce if worked well and wisely. It is those who complain that let a harvest waste away.

Like the old song says, “Little is much when God is in it...”

Dear Heavenly Father, strengthen our hands and energize our hearts for the work. The fields are truly white unto harvest, so who are we kidding? We just need to work a little harder to bring it in.

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 13:23.

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Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

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

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


All Hands On Deck!

Proverbs 12:24

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

Hard Work Never Hurt Anyone!

Ever had a lazy day? Did you feel better afterwards? Perhaps you did. Perhaps you followed one lazy day with another. We are told that there are people in society who live like this. Certain elements of the media in the UK regularly feature stories of large lazy families who spend their lives doing nothing, apparently encouraged and supported by the welfare state. It is wrong to condemn those who may have to rely on welfare in difficult economic times, but it is hard to understand those individuals who just don’t want to work.

Working for God

Scripture tells us to do everything as if we were doing it for God (Colossians 3:23). This instruction should apply equally to every aspect of our daily lives whether we are at work, at home, at church, or socializing with friends, etc. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that laziness is acceptable. So why are there so many passengers in church?

All Hands on Deck

Think of church as a working ship. If the church is the body of Christ then there can be no passengers. We are called to work together for the advancement of God’s kingdom. If all we do is occupy a seat every Sunday morning then the warning about slothfulness contained in this proverb needs to be heeded. In a working ship there is no room for the slothful. Every person has a job. Every job is important. While the captain is ultimately in command he cannot sail without a crew. A ship needs watch-keeping officers and engineers, deckhands and catering staff. It is vital that the right skills are exercised in the correct places, and it is important that all members of the crew are diligent in their work. Is your church a working ship or a passenger liner where half the people on board are on permanent vacation?


I’m a Word Farmer

Proverbs 12:14

“A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.”

Word Farming

It should come as no shock to anyone that I use words on a daily basis. I talk, write, sing, preach, teach, and even counsel second-graders on my school bus regarding their poor dating choices (but that’s a different story).

I am a word farmer, and my mouth could be compared to one of those big machine-thingys (non-farmer terminology) that spreads seed across a field. From morning till evening I am like a John Deere pulling a seed drill (farmer terminology), planting row after row of something that should grow.

The hope is that whatever I am planting will produce a good harvest. And if I am planting good seed, then I will be satisfied with the “good fruit.”

Don’t Work, Don’t Eat

But it is important that we pay attention to the negative side of this, not just  the “fruitful” positive. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 12:14 reads, “Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.

What happens when we don’t plant? What happens when we don’t work? What happens when the farmer parks his tractor, sleeps late, and watches television all day? Plants don’t grow, no one is satisfied, and grown men end up watching the Lifetime Channel.

Rewards are the result of effort; harvests are the result of planting. To be satisfied with good from the fruit of your mouth, you’ve got to plant seed. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Just be careful of the seed you plant, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” – Isaiah 3:10-11 ESV


An Honest Salesman?

Proverbs 12:5

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.”

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was actually a pretty successful salesman at one time. But if there was anything that characterized the average salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? You will know him when he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say that there were times I did just that, even when the rent was due. Taking advantage of customer was wrong, and even though I might have needed the money, the end didn’t justify the means.

Believe it or not, there are some honest salespeople out there. However, there are also a lot of deceitful customers, too. Just saying.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.


No Shortcuts

Proverbs 3:7-8

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

An advertisement on the side of my web browser promises that if I “click here” I can learn a “weird old trick” to eliminate stubborn belly fat. Each weekday afternoon, Dr. Oz hosts a show advocating the addition of blueberries, seaweed and other “super foods” to fight off cancer and heart disease. A billboard overlooking I-24 in my city displays a lean and tightly-muscled torso, suggesting that a few quick visits to the fitness center are all it takes to achieve such enviable results.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

The achievement of health: Everybody’s looking for a shortcut! And yet, we know that it is the slow, plodding discipline of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the elimination of detrimental bad habits (smoking comes to mind) which yield the healthiest bodies over the long haul.

The achievement of wise living is no different! There are no shortcuts (“Be not wise in your own eyes”). Rather, wise living is the fruit of good old basic faith (“fear the LORD”) and repentance (“turn away from evil”). This, says the wise father to the son (3:1) is the only sure path to spiritual health (3:8).

NEED HEALING?

By the way, these verses suggest that by following the way of wisdom, it is in fact possible to extricate yourself from a situation of moral and spiritual “disease”, and gain spiritual health in Christ. Those who are spiritually sick can find healing and refreshment, or as some translations put it, nourishment. One thinks of Subway’s marketing front man “Jarrod”, who lost a couple of hundred pounds simply by “eating fresh”. Praise the Lord, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17).