She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. Proverbs 31:16-19
This is the third day that we have looked at qualities of the excellent wife. In the verses we look at today we see that this particular woman that Bathsheba is describing for her son is an industrious woman. Let’s look at the ways that she walks out her industriousness.
First we see that she knows real estate – or at least how to “consider” a field in which she plans to plant a vineyard. The word here for “consider” is “zamam” and it means to speak to oneself in a low voice or a quiet one. The concept here is that of deliberating on something. It meant to formulate a plan of action – from beginning to end – and then counsel with yourself to make sure that the plan is a good one. It represents the inner thought process one has as they seek God and even converse within themselves when making a very important decision. For the excellent wife this decision concerns whether a field is worth purchasing. This includes the thought of whether the field is acceptable for agriculture (in this case to plant a vineyard). Then it moves on to whether she has the money to make the purchase – as well as whether the field is going to be profitable in the endeavor. This lady is not a wall-flower – and neither is she so delicate that she shuns hard work.
The second thing we see is that this woman is strong. She has girded her arms with strength. This strength is not from going to the gym all the time – but rather from good, old-fashioned hard work. She is planting a vineyard – working a field, then coming home to grasp the distaff and spindle to make yarn and eventually fabric from which to clothe and bless her family. Whatever the work – it is a good thing to have a wife who knows how to work hard. All this is delightful to her – for she senses that her work is good. She sees that the things she is doing are going to be a blessing to her family. She is earning money from which they can be blessed. She is planting a vineyard from which they can get grapes, grape juice, and wine. She is working hard to turn the lamb and sheep’s wool and cotton into cloth and eventually garments for her, her family, her servants, and even those to whom she sells them later in the passage. She even works in the evening time – not having her lamp go out at night for the purpose of blessing those whom she loves.
The excellent wife knows work – knows strength that comes from work – and senses and knows that a good work ethic is a blessing to her and to her family. First there is the direct gain to herself that comes from it. It is a good thing to desire to bless ourselves with our work. There is a self-interest that God has built into each of us that is beneficial to us if we use it to work hard. That self-interest though must go to bless others around us as well. The excellent wife wanted to bless her husband, her children, her servants, and even the men and women in the city as she worked hard to produce things of benefit. That selfless self-interest is what drives a beneficial economy. Things like socialism and communism have NEVER blessed a country and its economy. That is because they do not encourage work ethic. They do not encourage a selfless self-interest to be productive. They encourage instead a growing dependence on government as the driver of all things – and the one that determines who gets what in the end. Everywhere that has been practiced it has encouraged laziness and greater dependence on someone to give us more and more – even if we did not work to get it. The excellent wife knows that her example of hard work will do more than give the family a few more shekels. She will promote that same hard working ethic in her children and in others around her. She will provide goods for others – and will show people that hard work and frugality does bring blessing on those who practice it. In the end, the excellent wife knows that there is more to this than raising grapes . . . she needs to raise children and their children to many generations with the same hard-working mindset. That will last far longer than a bunch of grapes or any other products she labors to produce.
He who pampers his slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son. Proverbs 29:21
What is the proper way to treat a employee? As we have done for most of the proverbs dealing with slavery - we look at them through the prism of employee and employer relationships. There is much wisdom for people who are in business and who have employees if they will learn from these proverbs. What can we learn from today's proverb in this respect?
The warning here is that an employer should not "pamper" their employees - just as the man in this proverb is told not to pamper his servants. The word "pamper" here means what is means today - to treat someone in a way where they are not disciplined and made to work as they should. There should be expectations on those who work for an employer. When I worked at UPS we were expected to load a certain number of packages per hour. When our work output went below that number - we were going to have a visit from a supervisor or boss - who would make it plain to us that we needed to work harder. This was not employer abuse - it was an employer making sure that we knew that we were expected to produce a certain amount of work for the hourly pay that we received.
What is dangerous is when an employee or servant is allowed to be lazy and undisciplined at work without any kind of repercussions. This is pampering a worker. Allowing a worker to do shoddy work without rebuke is pampering them. Allowing a worker to be consistently late to work without rebuke is pampering the worker. Allowing a worker to abuse their fellow workers and supervisors without rebuke and punishment is pampering the worker. These things will hurt a business - or even cause it to fail. There needs to be an understanding of proper workplace behavior and proper workplace expectations. But our society is beginning to implode on itself because it rejects such things. People are getting to the point where they expect a paycheck - but do not think that they should work hard for it. Ours is a world where people feel they are entitled to a living - and a good one at that.
The Bible is clear on the fact that, "if a man won't work - don't let him eat." There are also verses that say to let someone get hungry - and they will be willing to work. The business world is rough - and if we are going to have a strong economy people need to know that HARD work is required. We act today as if the words "hard work" are curse words - when in fact that are blessed words. It is good for us to have to work hard.
When an employer does not have the proper expectations on his laborers, he will in the end wind up with sons rather than employees. What is meant by this is a certain kind of son - a spoiled one. He will wind up with people who do not want to work - but expect to be well paid and well cared for by their employer. One might call this the "spoiled brat" syndrome. You treat laborers a cerain way and before long they will not be workers - but rather spoiled brats who constantly complain about their wages, about their work load, about their work environment - and just about anything else they can think of to complain about. No matter what the employer does, it is not enough.
A good employer knows the balance between caring for his employees and calling them to work. He knows that he does need to be considerate and wise with things like workplace conditions and wages. He wants to bless his labor force - but he also wants them to work. There are Scripture passages that call the employer to be gracious and kind to his workers - but here he is warned of the dangers of having a plant filled with spoiled brats - rather than people who know how to work hard so that the business will be profitable. It is a delicate balance - but one that needs a serious swing toward a stronger work ethic in our day.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
I find it an interesting thing to listen to the "child-rearing" experts argue in our day. I include in this those who speak for and against the idea of spanking or corporal punishment for a child. This proverb answers both groups with wisdom. Let me address both groups with what is taught in this passage.
First, let me address those who say that any kind of spanking is wrong. Some even assert that this is child abuse. This runs up against the Scriptures which here teach us that we are to use the rod and reproof with a child to train them up in the way that they should go. Note it says the rod and reproof. The reason I draw your attention to this is because is lists both. There are some who assert that the "rod" is meant to be the rod of one's mouth - or - their words. That doesn't work for two reasons. First of all the rod of our mouth is as least a stretch for how the Scriptures address this instrument that is used for the purpose of punishment and instruction. This rod was usually either a stalk of bamboo that was cut into a two to three foot long rod. There were also small limbs of trees (usually of a flexible type) that were stripped of all other branches and used for the purpose of administering discipline. The other problem is that there are other passages in Proverbs that speak of striking the child with the rod. It is foreign to the Scriptures to have a child-rearing discipline that is without the use of corporal punishment. It was used to administer a controlled amount of pain to be associated with disobedience to deter a child from continuing in a type of behavior. It was not ever meant to be abusive or excessive - it was meant to be instrtuctive. This is where many who "spank" need to be addressed by this passage as well.
Unfortunately there are some who represent "spanking' as the administering of rod - and that alone. I've heard some adults say things like this, "My parents beat me - and that was good enough for me." This gives the impression that all that is done is spanking. That is foreign to the Bible too. Note that the passage says the rod and reproof are used. This means that not only is corporal punishment used - but instruction as well. The child is taught that certain behaviors are not appropriate. They are wrong - and as such are foolish. If we spank "only" and do not take the time to instruct our children - they will grow up wanting to avoid "bad behavior" because of an aversion to the pain it may cause - but they do not understand anything except to avoid the pain. There is a higher purpose behind good parenting under God.
The important thing to note here is that the rod and reproof give wisdom. The purpose here is for a child to learn to be wise. Too often any form of parental discipline is done because children are annoying and interrupting a parent. That is NOT good child-rearing! We want to teach our children to be wise as they learn to view all things from God's perspective (the basic definition of wisdom). They are "spanked' to help turn them from foolish, sinful, wicked behavior. But as they are disciplined - they are pointed to God's way, which is infinitely superior. And even as discipline is applied they need to be taught the gospel. Oh that we would not miss this vital thing in discipling our chidlren.
All things point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we rear them to be good kids - we must not see this as the end because we can NEVER make them good enough to stand before God. That is why as we are instructing them to obey our commandments, we must teach them that God's commandments and Law are infinitely higher and MUST be obeyed. We must instruct them that their disobedience to us is proof that they are sinful and fallen. This helps them to see that their sinfulness is ultimately against God, Whom they have chosen to disobey. Disobedience to us must be punished, but there is a much higher punishment for disobedience to God's Law. Even in discipline we show them mercy, love, and grace - so that they can see that even greater is God's mercy, love and grace shown in the gospel. Then let them know the most important truth. Tell them that there is One Who came to pay the ultimate price of their disobedience before God. That One is Jesus Christ Who died on the cross to pay the price of their rebellion and make them right with God. Oh, dear parents - even in discipline we need to point to the gospel!
Tomorrow, I'll finish commenting on this particular proverb. The reason for this is that I do not want to casually glance over the shot fired across the bow of motherhood here. God is not beating up on mothers with what He says. Much to the contrary - He is speaking of their importance. More on that tomorrow. It is my hope that what today's proverb has taught you is the importance of fighting the right battle when it comes to corporal punishment of children. Some want to make it all about spanking or not spanking. God does not place the importance of what He is saying here about such things. He is seeking to have godly parents focus on teaching and training their children to be wise. He wants the foolishness of a fallen child to be countered - first by the discipline of parents - and then ultimately by the gospel.
Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. Proverbs 27:23-24As we look at this passage in Proverbs 27, we are examining the Ministry of neglect. This proverb is encouraging us to know the condition of things in our lives well! The example used is for our flocks - and yet many of us do not have any livestock. The wisdom that is offered is that we know well the things that are important in our lives. Over the next week we'll be looking at six different areas of our lives in which it is wise for us to avoid the "Ministry of Neglect" that just seems to come to naturally to us all.The first area we will look at is our personal lives. In this area we need to know well the condition of our heart. This speaks to our spiritual condition before God. How are you doing spiritually? Are you being more Christlike in your actions and attitudes? Are you showing spiritual growth so that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in how you live? On a different level, are you reading the Word of God daily? What about prayer - are you praying? Are you sharing your faith with others - and being an instrument of God's grace and love in your local fellowship? A good thing to do, if you want to keep up with such things, is to occasionally have a brother or sister in Christ lovingly, yet honestly, answer these questions. Want a real challenge? Ask your wife and your children. Another area of our personal lives is our health. This is one that if often overlooked - and yet according to 1 Corinthians 6:19 - our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. So the question is applicable - how is your health? Are you eating well - or is the sin of gluttony resulting in health issues for you? Are you exercising regularly? Are you getting enough sleep and resting on a regular basis (God suggests 1 out of every 7 days for this). If you do not take care of yourself - you should not be surprised if your body - and even your mental state begins to fall apart. I am not saying that we should turn into health and fitness fanatics - just that we should do a basic job of caring for ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you practicing good mental health? Do you live in reality - or is most of your time spent in a fantasy land - either on television or in an online game. Are you living for online relationships more than those around you in your home? Too many find themselves locked into the online world rather than the real one. Then there are mental habits. How are you doing with your mind? Are you reading and learning anything? This is something people don't grasp in our society. We are becoming a society of morons - because we don't do anything to benefit our minds. There is so much out there besides television (and especially besides reality TV) that can help you become a smarter person. Are your reasoning skills advancing - or are you letting the TV, radio, and others think for you? Oh, how much we lose when we don't practice good mental habits. The potential here is massive - and few if any of us tap into it. One last area that I'll meddle in is our personal finances. How are they going? Are we exercising wisdom in how we are handling the money God gives to us? Do we look like a wise or a foolish steward of what God places into our hands? It is actually wise to occasionally take a step back and see if we are being wise - and are practicing self-control over our spending habits. If not - we can suddenly find that our bank account will not sustain us at a level we are currently living. I can only imagine how much many have been offended by this particular post. We are not exactly an honest people when it comes to stepping back and taking a real look at ourselves. If it helps any - I was pretty convicted in several areas of my own life just writing this. Doing this can help us so much though. Remember - this post is about the Ministry of Neglect. It is too easy for us to forget areas of our lives - until they come back to bite us in the rear. That is why I would encourage you to schedule a quarterly check-up . . . for yourself. You might be shocked at how it helps keep you on track. I know that writing this has made me consider a few ways that the ministry of neglect has been active - and - I can see how if I continue to neglect things - I'll end up paying a lot more than I want to in my future.
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge. Proverbs 19:27
If you ever want to be wise and to walk consistently in the knowledge of God - you will have to embrace discipline. Ours is a world that wants things instantly - and it wants them with a real cost to us personally. We would like to have everything and pay nothing for it. Wisdom does not come like this - it comes with much time spent listening to God - and listening to wise men and women. It comes also, as we will learn from today's proverb, from listening to others who will correct us and help discipline us so that we listen to God - and not to our flesh, the world, or the devil.
The whole admonition for today is that we do not need to cease listening to discipline. Discipline here is the Hebrew word "mûsār" and it refers to teaching someone how to live correctly in the fear of the Lord, so that the we learn our lesson before temptation and testing. Thus we learn that this "discipline" is training for life and it is why it is so important that we pay attention - and do not cease to listen to this kind of training. The reason for this is because temptation and testing do not take a vacation. They come to us on a regular basis - daily - even hourly.
The goal in listening to this "life training" is to gather up words of knowledge. They function in our lives like sign posts. We appreciate a well placed sign post when we are driving. They warn us of bridges that are out or of roads that are closed. They remind us of the streets we are on and when to turn off a highway so that we get to where we are going. What God is reminding us of though is that there are moral sign posts - which are these words of knowledge - sayings that will help us remember what is a godly path and what is not a godly path. Proverbs speaks often of knowing where our choices will eventually take us.
When we cease to listen to the correction and the training that comes with being disciplined - we will not know where these sign posts will be. It would be like trying to get somewhere in a new city without a map and without any kind of signs to help us know where we are - and where we are going. That would make life very difficult - and frustrating. We would wind up taking the wrong road over and over again - until we eventually learned the hard way where everything is in that city. Just as frustrating as this is living life not really knowing where you are going morally or spiritually. That is why we should listen closely to wiser more godly men and women when they speak to us. That is why we should pay very close attention when God's Word speaks to us. This is our road map - these words of knowledge and godly counsel.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But
will not even bring it back to his mouth. Proverbs 19:24
Here we have one incredibly lazy man. In fact this man's laziness is so bad it is almost comical to picture it. Here is a man who has buried his hand in the dish of food that is set before him. The picture is not of someone who is picking at the top of the food on his plate. This guy has buried his hand into the dish of food, probably covering his entire hand with it. It is as if his appetite has led him to grab all that he can. So we do see initially a selfish attitude - and one who has a huge appetite for what is set before him. But there is a disconnect with this man - because although he can bury his hand in it - there will be little or no real satisfaction from it.
The sluggard has a great appetite - and great desire for things - but he has no ability to bring those desires to pass. He buries his hand in the dish - but he won't work hard enough to even bring it up to his mouth. Again this picture is comical to us. Here is a man with his hand buried deep in the dish. He has grabbed all the food he can handle. The problem is that he is so lazy he won't lift his hand up to his mouth to eat it. This seems so comical that it is a farce to us. Who is so lazy that he won't even lift his food to his mouth to eat. Honestly - there is really no one who would do this at the supper table - but the farcial picture painted for us speaks beyond the supper table. It speaks to spiritual realities - and to the problem that exists with the sluggard.
The sluggard is lazy - that is his problem. The picture before us is one of a man who has great desire - but no discipline to bring it to pass. He has a voracious appetite - but he won't work to see it move from desire to decision to completion. The burying of his hand in the dish speaks of the lazy man's desires. He speaks of wanting things - and speaks of desiring to accomplish great things. He lacks no vision for what he wants - because for many a lazy man - they want the whole world. They do this because they have all the time in the world to develop such fanciful dreams of what could be. The problem is though they can bury their hand in the dish of desire and dreams - they never work to bring their hand up to their mouth and actually fulfill those desires. Here is the crux of this proverb. The lazy man won't work to fulfill his dreams and his desires. He won't apply himself to the tasks that have to be done to accomplish what he wants. Oh the dreams will be huge - but the actual accomplishment of them will be miniscule. His planning box will be full, but the completion box will be empty. We see this every day - in a myriad of men who just won't work - who won't be disciplined to do what is necessary to succeed in their plans.
Those who have just read this might be thinking, "Well why didn't God just say that the lazy man has plans, but he won't work to see them happen?" Because that would not catch our attention. If someone says that - people will ignore him - especially those who are lazy and undisciplined. The sluggard won't even pay attention to that statement. The genius therefore of the Scriptures is that they paint us a picture that catches our attention. To see a sluggard dreaming the hours away without working is . . . well, it's kind of boring. But to see a hungry man with his hand buried in a dish of food. To see that man leave it there, unwilling to even bring it up to his mouth so he can eat . . . well, that's wierd! That catches our attention - and makes us think. The sheer ridiculousness of it catches our eye - and makes us look longer - look deeper. It is in that moment that we work to unlock a proverb that will speak volumes to us. In that moment we will see deeply and learn like we have never learned before. We might even learn that our laziness and sluggardly behavior looks almost as ridiculous as that guy sitting there with his hand buried in a plate of food.
He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy. Proverbs 17:21
Wisdom knows that children can be a source of great joy - and also a source of incredible sorrow. This particular proverb points us to the fact that a man who has a child - and that child becomes a fool - is a man who will have a great deal or sorrow, pain, and difficulty. There are a couple of things we should note, though, in this statement.
When a man sires a fool - it is not just the process of having a child that is meant here. God calls us to rear our children according to His Word - making sure that we first live it before them - and also that we spend time teaching them this Word as well. Listen to what God says in Deuteronomy on this issue.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
It is so important to see here a call to reality in our own spiritual walk first. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. We are to put His Word on OUR hearts first. Then right after this is the command to teach these things DILIGENTLY to our children. The way this is said givbes the impression that this is to be part of our lifestyle. When we do not do this - we are paving the way to be one who has sired a fool. But the reality is that the foolishness was not inherent in the child - it often is a learned response. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, proverbs tells us, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Often a fool is created by one who thinks that discipline and correction are too strident for a child. The fact is leave these things out of a child's life - and you will sire a fool before it is over.
The father here has no joy - because has to watch his son live like a fool. He watches his boy live a life that is very self-destructive. He also watches as the lack of his own parenting comes back to haunt him. Let me give a brief testimony concerning rearing children.
God has blessed me with 6 wonderful children - and a very, very godly wife. We are in the twilight of rearing our children. Child-rearing is not a spectator sport - and often is a full contact - heart-breaking activity. God has blessed us with very godly kids who have a heart for God. But this was NOT something that was like falling off of a log. There were times when we taught - times when we had to discipline - and times when we wondered if discipline even worked. But we trusted God's Word. There were also times when we had to confront our teenage children with their lifestyle choices. We faced times when we were the "uncool" parents - and even times when one would tell us that they hated us and that we were ruining their lives. Ah, good times . . . But there were also times when we would invest in our children - being at events - spending hours talking, listening, and even answering difficult questions. All this required time, effort, and at times very tough choices.
I am saying this to say that too many men are little more than sperm donors to their children. I know that is a rough statement - but rearing children requires a lifetime committment to them - and to God. By the way, it also requires learning how to walk with god yourself. There were times when God would call ME on the carpet - rebuke me - and correct me. Honestly - the best place to learn parenting is from how God dealt with His people. There were times when I would have to face the fact that I had been a hypocrite - and then would have to sit my children down and admit it to them! We were anything but "perfect parents." We were participants in the gospel and the grace of God. We were participants in growing up in the Lord. I know that at least I was a royal doofus many times. There are times when I wonder how any of my kids could turn out well when I look at the progression of my own heart. When I think of how often I fell - how often I failed - and how often I was on my face dealing with my own sin. I've had to face daily discipline from God - and from brothers who help me stay committed to the Lord. Without this - I would have utterly destroyed my testimony.
Here is what I am trying to say. Life is a full-contact sport. It is hard. It is difficult and often is exhausting. It also has a million blessings intersperced in it as well. To live it - we have to turn to God a billion times - often wondering when we will ever get it right. But this IS life. We sire fools when we do not both walk with them through this wonderful gauntlet - as well as teach them and cheer them on as they make their way through after us. It requires us to live our lives for God's purposes and plans - even in having children. It requires us to die daily to ourselves and live for God's glory in it all. Is this easy . . . NO! Is it possible . . . YES! Is it rewarding and awesome and amazing as we walk with God through it all . . . ABSOLUTELY! Therefore, I urge you men out there reading this to take the task of loving God, loving your wife, and siring and rearing children very seriously. It will take your whole life to do it - it will cost you everything to accomplish it - but it will mean everything to you when you look back on it with joy - seeing your kids follow Christ.
A worker's appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on. Proverbs 16:26
Did you know that the Bible does not support the idea of a welfare state? There is plenty in the Scriptures that support giving to help out the poor and disadvantaged. But the idea of providing a living for someone without them having to work - especially when they are able to work - is foreign to the Bible.
God's Word encourages us to work - and to work hard. Beginning with God encouraging man to work the garden - prior to the fall - and continuing through the New Testament where Paul tells us that if a man will not work, not to let him eat - God is adamant about people giving themselves to worthwhile endeavors in life. We've seen several verses already that rebuke the sluggard and warn him to apply himself to work hard. God also encourages us to enjoy our work in the book of Ecclesiastes.
God's Word states that a "do nothing" mindset will destroy a man's character - and eventually his life. Welfare will eventually create not just a sluggard, but a person who feels that they are entitled to getting things without working. This entitlement attitude will not just destroy an individual - it can destroy entire economies and states. When the state either cuts off these entitlements or even downgrades them in size - the lazy rise up and riot because they have grown to expect something for nothing.
The whole idea of incentive and hunger is necessary for a society to have a good work ethic. The incentive causes the worker to become more dependable and productive. He works harder and better and in the process not only blesses himself - but his company and even his entire nation. The hunger for food is one way that this is seen - and the hunger for even better things can be a continued way this is beneficial. First we work so that we can feed ourselves and our families. Over time our families are fed, but we want even better things for them. This comes not out of greed, but out of a true desire to bless our families - even beyond the scope of our lives. The incentive to see our children have a better life is a good thing.
Our society is falling apart because it has ignored these things. We have begun to adopt a mindset toward socialism - where the government takes care of all the people. God did not intend for this to be the case. He meant for men to care for their families - and for the state to only have a limited role in governing our lives. The family is the basic unit of society - and the place where values and work ethic is to be taught and encouraged. Even with our children we are to use incentive to help them see the need to work and to labor. When a child is spoiled by his parents - that child is given everything they want - without having to work for what they receive. The child does not appreciate these things - and even has resentment when the parent either cannot or will not provide something they demand. The child never learns a solid work ethic - which damages them for life. They don't work hard - get fired from multiple jobs - which they always equate to a problem with the employer. The problems they have even enter into their marriage and family - because they are unwilling to work and do what is necessary to bless a family. Everything is about them and what they want. Thus they destroy not just their own lives - but in time multiple generations which follow in their footsteps.
The incentive and drive to work - and work hard is a matter of godliness in the end. It is encouraged by God granting to us an appetite - and a hunger for food. If we are coddled and protected from hunger and need. If we are given everything and never made to work for what is necessary. If we are spoiled as children - and even as adults - we are headed for a disastrous end. The older we get, the more selfless we should become. The selfishness of a little child is not to be encouraged - but worked out of them. If this is not done - not even their hunger can get them to engage in profitable work. When multiplied over the face of a region - and even a nation - this will lead to the fall of that nation. Let your hunger and your thirst be a motivation to work hard - and to encourage others to do the same. It may seem hard at first - but you will see the wisdom of God's Word in encouraging work and labor as a way to bless ourselves and others around us.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes
humility. Proverbs 15:33
There are few people who do not want to be wise. The rub comes when they learn how to become wise. There is even a higher cost when you learn the method by which God will bring us to the point where we become wise.
The first thing we need to grasp is that wisdom comes from God. If men, in their experience of life, manifest wisdom - it is only because they have stumbled across it over the course of their lives. Even a blind squirrel will find a few nuts as he wanders underneath the trees. Wisdom is defined best as seeing things as God sees them. Therefore if we are going to become wise - we will have to respect God and what He has to say. That is the crux of what Solomon is saying here when he states that the fear of Jehovah is the instruction for wisdom. If we do not respect and reverence God - we are fools. If we do not honor Him and give Him the honor which He deserves, we will not be wise in the end.
We note here that the fear of Jehovah is the "instruction" for wisdom. The word for instruction here is the Hebrew word "musar" which means to instruct with discipline. This means far more than just learning something in our heads. This involves both mental instruction of the head - and discipline to make sure that what goes into our heads is then applied and carried out in our lives. This often involves some correction, pain, and difficulty as we have to learn to value God's perspective more than our own. This is the process of wisdom - and depending on how stubborn or prideful we are in holding to our particular perspective - how painful and hard it will be to become wise.
The last part of this proverb lets us know the one overarching principle that will apply throughout this entire process. "Before honor comes humility." Humans (at least fallen ones - and that means all of us) want the honor now. They want honor immediately. If we want the honor of other men and the world that may be possible. If we want the honor that comes from God and that is lasting - we will have to take a different path. Honor from God requires humility first. It is the humility that is willing to empty ourselves and lay our own will and ego down. This is what Christ Jesus did according to Philippians 2
, and God requires nothing less of us. Oh how hard the human will goes down. But in order to be wise - and to receive honor from God - that is what we will have to do. But such wisdom and such honor is better than anyting billion things the world can offer us in the way of its trinkets and trash.
Want to be wise? Want lasting, eternal honor? Then wisdom is what you want. You will haae to first admit you don't have any - and then turn to the only One Who can give it to you. You will need to see your view of God raised infinitely higher - where you find His wisdom and guidance impeccable in every way. You will need to embrace His thoughts and working in your mind even in the most difficult times when honestly, it does not make sense. You will need to lay your own thoughts in the dust - until you learn that they are in agreement with His - then praise Him for enlighening your mind to have such thoughts. This is the way of wisdom - which is also the way of humility. But I can promise you by the Word of the Lord that this is also the way of true happiness, true contentment, and a true reward that will last infinitely beyond any trophy, any medal, any certificate, or any human reward that will fade and fade away with time.