Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.
Integrity and honesty in business is something about which God is concerned. He does not take kindly to those who seek to cheat others in business. There were commands in the Law in Deuteronomy 25:13-14 and in Leviticus 19:35-36 about the very thing we read here in Proverbs 11:1. In fact, so essential was honesty to the proper functioning of society that God called fraud an abomination. The fact that archeologists have found stones marked with the word “shekel” with a wide variety of weights remind us that fraud and dishonest business dealings are not just something of the modern era.
God instructed His people to have a fair weight in their bag. We read elsewhere in Proverbs 16:11, “A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern.” The way most commerce worked in those days was in a market setting where the seller would weigh out the amount of produce on a set of scales. On one side of the scales was a basket in which the produce would be placed. On the other side there was another basket into which stones would be placed indicating various weights. To make sure that honesty and integrity remained in place, all the weights were measured according to the “shekel of the sanctuary.” We read of this in Exodus 30:13 and Leviticus 27:25. The shekels used in these transactions would be weighed themselves according to the ones kept before the Lord so that there would be a common standard for business in Israel. This was not only there for the sake of honest business, but it was also there to remind Israel that God truly despised those who were dishonest in their dealings with others.
One example of this is when God rebuked Israel through the prophet Amos. There was a horrible thing happening in the land. People would go to religious observances - but attending them would make no difference in their hearts. They would cheat the poor and the needy afterward. Listen to what God said through Amos to these dishonest business people.
“Hear this, you who trample the needy, To do away with the humble of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales.’” - Amos 8:4-5 (NASB)
Even while they were in the midst of their “religiousness” their thoughts were not guided by God's righteousness. As they walked through their religion, their thoughts were that once the new moon or the sabbath was over, they could cheat their customers as they normally did. Of course we would never act one way on a Sunday morning - and then act entirely different come the start of the business day on Monday. Sadly, we know this is the case with too many who have Sunday morning values that never see the light of day the rest of the week at work. God spoke some serious judgment upon those who did this. One would expect this from a God who says that He sees such things as an abomination. The second half of this proverb says that a “just weight” is God’s delight. The phrase is literally, “a complete or sound stone” which would refer to the true shekel of the sanctuary. The root word for this “complete or sound” stone is “shalem” which shares the same root as the word “shalom” which referred to being complete - but also meant peace. It was considered a way to bless someone as you greeted them. When the marketplace is set according to God’s standards (the shekel of the sanctuary), there is peace in the business world. But when one begins to weigh on false scales and use false weights - the business world becomes anything but peaceful. Instead it becomes a place of suspicion and distrust. No longer is the marketplace based on serving others, giving them quality, and offering them a fair price for what they purchase. Instead it becomes a den of thieves where one wonders with almost every purchase whether they are being cheated or not. And what is accepted as the norm in the business world - becomes the norm of the society. It is no wonder then why God takes the time to warn us against ungodly business practices. For an honest and upright marketplace makes for a peaceful world.
Just a closing thought on this proverb. I grew up with a father who was well known for being true to his word. He grew up in a time and place where integrity and honesty in the workplace was paramount. It was also a world where the principles of God’s Word were honored and where business people were taught the value of honesty and biblical integrity. It is no surprise to me that his day was also one where people didn’t lock their cars or their homes. They did not fear someone breaking into their house and stealing from them. I find it very interesting that in a world where God was honored in the marketplace - you also found a world far more at peace with one another and with far less dishonesty. It was a world where in honoring and serving God, they learned to value honoring and serving one another. I think it is safe to say that it is a world worth envying and emulating.
Proverbs 31:16-29 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
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.
Proverbs 31:18-19 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excel at them. The result of tasting the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, and wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit? We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called" profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Proverbs 29:21 He who pampers his slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son.
What is the proper way to treat an 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 they 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 certain 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.
Proverbs 29:19 A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understand, there will be no response.
Ever wonder how to deal with someone who works for you - but is not really willing to listen all that well to what you tell them? That is what today's proverb addresses. It speaks of the workplace and relationships within it. This especially relates to those who have employees who are either not working - or - are guilty of slipshod work or work that is counterproductive to what the business is seeking to accomplish.
There are those who will not be instructed by words alone. Solomon speaks to his sons about this fact. Finding a good employee is often a difficult thing to do. There is an attitude that is being fostered today among those who are in the laboring class that will prove to do great damage to our nation - and in fact it already has. That attitude is one of jealousy and envy toward the business owner - and anyone else who makes more than they do for their work. This leads to an attitude where the worker does not listen to his boss when he instructs him on what to do. This brings about poor work habits - a poor work ethic - and an even poorer attitude toward authority. This will cost us millions in lost profit and the benefit that would come from it in future business expansion and growth.
The problem though is not in whether the employee can hear or not. Note from the passage before us that he hears fine - he even understands what has been said to him. The employee has a serious attitude problem though - and refuses to respond to his employer. This lack of respect will result in the worker also not taking the boss seriously. In the end he will do his work with the same attitude with which he listens. So what is an employer to do when these things happen to him?
First, the employer (at least the one in this culture) needs to know that such attitudes will always exist. As long as there is a sin nature in man there will be jealousy and envy in the work environment. The wise employer will work to defuse such things so that the work environment is healthier. Decrying the sin in workers will do little good - because sin will always be present. What the employer needs to do is to find ways to defuse the problem.
A wise employer seeks to hire people of character. You do background checks and seek information from other employers for this reason. If someone has a bad attitude - don't hire them. They will only bring that bad attitude into your workplace as well. If someone has a history of causing problems in the workplace - they will have that same problem in your situation as well. When you have people with good character - reward them and do all you can to keep them around.
A wise employer also will incentivize his workplace. Just as no employer starts a business for the purpose of providing employment for others - no worker gets a job for the joy of working alone. The employer starts his business to make money. He puts in the hours, makes the sacrifice, and labors hard to make a profit for himself and for his family. He grows the business so that it will expand his profitability - so he can provide better for his family. The worker is motivated by the same thing. He does not work for the joy of working alone. He wants to provide for his family - and would like to see that provision become greater over time. When the workman knows that he will be blessed as the company is blessed - he will work hard. The wise employer will not merely instruct with words - he will make a case for his employees that if things become more profitable for the company, things will be more profitable for everyone who works for the company. Words alone won't elicit response - but a share of the bounty of the company over time will.
A wise employer will also build a servant's heart in his people. He will do this first by his own example. He will not be so detached from his people that they think he does nothing but play and collect a check. He will spend time with his people - and will let them know that he is a servant to the company as well. They all work together to serve their clientele. That attitude needs to spread to every level of management in the company. It also needs to spread to everyone who works in any position there is. They are not there to be served (which will lead to a bad attitude as they want more and more done FOR them) but to serve, and by so serving to make the company more successful. They are a success when their clients are happy.
Ultimately - the wise employer will let his employees know and see that he does not work for himself - he works for God. This will only be for those employers who submit themselves to God and realize that everything they have is from God. Not only will their employees be judged for their performance - even they as an employer will be as well - by God. God warns both employee and employer that they are responsible to Him. They will have to answer for their actions in the end before His throne. When an employee sees that even his boss submits to God - and wrestles with what is right before Him - it will give the employee a sense of confidence and safety knowing that his boss is not a law unto himself.
Words alone do not often bring about a response when we speak them. Words and promises are cheap - when they are not backed up with character and action. But when we speak the basic self-interest that exists within all of us - and do so with character, godliness, and a servant's heart toward those we lead - we will see response where previously there has been none. Whether it is in reference to a slave - a paid worker - or even family and friends, people want to know that they are doing something that will matter - and will profit them in the end. The truly wise boss will do this - and will let his employees know that the ultimate goal of any business venture in which he is involved is to serve their clients unto the glory of God. Want to have them listen, hear, understand, and respond? Live like this!
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:20
Get rich quick schemes usually come with some form of sin involved in it. The quick riches come at the expense of others. The lottery is such a scheme - everyone is buying a chance to strike it rich - and only one does. All the others waste their money. The lottery is for those who are bad at mathmatics or who are wanting to get rich so that they can quit working. Either way - their riches come with a burden of sin. That is what today's proverb counsels against.
Let's look at the last half of this proverb first. The one who makes "haste" to be rich is going to face punishment in the end. It is never wise to be hasty in decisions or in following schemes that others hatch to make you rich. The corporate world is filled with those who learn to become rich on the backs of other's misfortune. Companies are bought and gutted for the purpose of making the investor rich - and people in the Stock Market are always talking of plans whereby you get rich quickly. The problem is that in every case - someone has to pay a price for your quick wealth. The phrase at the end of this proverb that reads, "will not go unpunished" is a Hebrew phrase that also means, "will not be innocent." The idea is that some form of sin is entered into that leaves them guilty - and eventually will lead to them being punished. Just know that every scheme that makes someone rich hastily - will leave them with an aspect of guilt in the end.
God is not against people becoming rich. God promised riches to the patriarchs and to Israel if they would follow Him with all their heart. He also warned them that when they became rich they would have a tendency to forget God and trust in their riches. God is against those who make haste to be rich - and cut corners morally to do so.
The Lord wants us to be faithful. Work is NOT EVIL! There are so many who think work is some sort of evil activity that came with the fall of man into sin. Work was something God gave man in the garden before the fall. Therefore to do faithful work puts us in a position for God to bless us. That is why The Lord says here that the faithful man will abound with blessings. Those blessings may include financial riches - but for many it does not. The blessings abound in numerous areas. I am blessed with my work associates - and the friendships that have been built over the years. I am blessed with projects that we do together that bring a very real sense of accomplishment. I am blessed with less temptation because my hands and my mind is busy doing work. I am blessed with being able to see my children learn the value of a strong work ethic because they've watched their father do what he learned from his father. I am blessed with a good night's sleep because I am tired and ready to go to bed each evenring. For some there is a blessing of an expanding business where others can be blessed with employment. And there is the blessing of serving others in your work - and building more and more of a servant's heart. Regardless of whether the blessings are financial or through moral character building - there is such a blessing that is ours when we embrace faithful work. May God help us to once again embrace the value of lifelong faithful work - and shun the get rich quick schemes that always involve some aspect of guilt and sin.
When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, The lambs will be for your clothing, And the goats will bring the price of a field, And there will be goats' milk enough for your food, For the food of your household, And sustenance for your maidens. Proverbs 27:25-27
These last three verses of Proverbs 27 are additional commentary on verses 23-24. Thus they deal with keeping watch or being aware of your flocks and herds. These verses are practical commentary on that activity. They are also very helpful to us who desire to build and maintain a godly work ethic in ours or any other society.
The first statement here seems like common sense to us. It speaks of the fact of the seasons and how one who tills the ground needs to be aware of them. When the grasss disappears, then the new growth is seen. There will be a time each year when the grass of the field dies in the fall and winter. The farmer is also reminded that during this time the herbs of the mountains need to be gathered into the barns. Again, this may seem like something that does not need to be said. The reason it is said is because, due to the fall, men are undisciplined and lazy. There is only a brief window of time that this can be done - and if not done at this time - the farmer will lose yield. If left undone for a long period of time - he will lose everything to decay, mildew, and decomposition.
This has something to say to us. We may not have grass oriented crops like hay, wheat, or barley. We may not have herbs on the mountains that should be gathered and put away for use in the next year. We do have responsibilities that fall to us though. Many of these things need to be done promptly. How many have received a late notice on a bill because we did not pay it "in season." Will this keep us out of heaven? No it won't, but for many it will mean anywhere from 20-50 dollars of lost wealth because we did not act "in season" to get something done that requires diligence in a certain time line.
More is said to us in verses 26-27, this time about principles of building and using wealth. Note that we are told that the lambs will be for our clothing. There is a reason to do all that the farmer does. He does not just grow grass. He diversifies into raising livestock. He has lambs that are for clothing. He has goats he milks not just for his own family to drink, but to sell so that he can buy a field with the profit. There is the wisdom of provision for oneself, and for the continued growth of wealth and provision for a family and a growing number of people who are dependent on your growing enterprises. Mentioned here are one's own household as well as one's maidens. Thus a wise man knows that the current level of wealth and provision today needs to be expanded as he expands his family and his business. What does this require? Hard work - and an attention to detail - at least an attention to doing things as they need to be done.
What is the wisdom for us today then, in light of these verses? The first wise thing we are to learn is that opportunity for blessings comes and goes. If we are not alert to the seasons of God's working, we will miss the blessing being unaware or lazy. Within the framework of His seasons, we need to act and work hard. The second piece of wisdom offered is this, our work blesses us for today - and for the future. The lifestyle lived from paycheck to paycheck is not a wise way to live. We work in such a way to bless us with today's provision - and to make wise choices for expansion of that provision as God blesses. The wise man lives in the moment and is thankful for what God has given him. There can be a danger of having greed enter our minds so that we make Nabalish choices to be selfish and self-centered. The rich farmer who thought his riches were only for his current enjoyment and pleasure found his soul in hell because he was not living for eternity. This, though, does not justify us in being foolish in expanding what we do for the sake of added family provision. There will be children and grandchildren. There will be expanded business opportunity that will bless additional employees. There will be changes in the market - changes in society - and changes even in the weather and providence. We should be wise enough to learn how to read such things and make adequate provision for them as God guides us.
Being godly and wise does not mean throwing our brains away. We can acquire business acumen and wisdom concerning how to be more productive. We can build a business while trusting and relying upon the Lord. That is what is being said here. May God give us wisdom to look to Him day by day - and yet still be wise enough to provide for an expanded future of blessings all as we look to Him for the blessings of today's provision and tomorrow's expansion.
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 27:23-24
Today as we look at the Ministry of Neglect and how to avoid it, we are going to look at the area of our jobs or businesses. This admontion goes in two directions - one is for the man who works for someone else and needs to know and not neglect his job. The second direction is for the man who own his own business and therefore is the one in charge of all things - and therefore truly does need to know the condtion of his business because if he does not, then no one will.
How do you watch the condition of your flocks if you simply work for someone else. The way you do this is by first working hard at your job. You do what your boss desires for you to do - and you do what you can to care for and make your boss successful (as long as it is legal). Those of you who spend too much time listening to the world may think to yourself that you see no reason why you should work so hard for "the man." But this is an ungodly attitude. We are to work hard as unto the Lord according to Scripture - and that means working so as to bless your boss. Your attitude should be selfless - even unto him.
Let me share an illustration from my own life in this regard. When I was in school I had a job at UPS. This was a very hard job - and the people for whom I worked were not the most grateful folks in the world. But I appreciated having the job and knew that God had given it to me. As a result, I worked hard and sought to make my bosses successful. I was working for THE Man - the God-man, Jesus Christ. The wonderful thing about this is that you will stick out like a sore thumb in our society. Hard workers who don't constantly complain are in short supply - and believe me - your boss will appreciate having one. And even if he doesn't you can know you will receive reward from The Lord in the end.
If you are the boss - and own your own business - you had better know well the condition of your business. The truth is (and all those of you who own businesses know this) that if you don't do this, no one else will. That is why it is important to keep up with what is happening with your customers, your employees, and the financial health of your business.
The wise man knows that no matter what place he has in the workforce, he needs to pay attention to his role and do it as unto The Lord. That way he is blessed whether he is the one who receives the profits from the business or he just receives a weekly paycheck. Either way you will be blessed - bless others - and in the end receive a blessing from The Lord in all that you do.
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 27:23-24
This verse in Proverbs kicks off a section that deals with diligence, as well as the fact of change in life. The wisdom offered here is to pay attention to things in your life because the one thing that will never change is that there is going to be change in your life. Time will march on whether you are paying attention to the parade or not. The danger posed to us by this is that life will change, either financially, politically, or spiritually and we will be caught off-guard by it.
One of the most effective ministries anywhere in the world is the ministry of neglect. This is an unintended ministry where we get busy in our lives - and neglect to watch over our finances, our marriage, our children, our business - even our own spiritual growth. Over time the ministry of neglect grows. Most people do not grasp what this ministry is doing until they are jolted as to its presence by a "suddenly-serious" problem. These are things that have been building up (or breaking down in many circumstances) and then make their appearance suddenly to us.
One of the best ways to describe this is to make reference to my very patient, very gracious wife. As a guy, I have a tendency to get over-focused in my life. As a result, I have had a pretty amazing track record of having the ministry of neglect in a number of areas of my life. What usually happens is that my precious bride wakes me out of my responbility slumber and alerts me to a way in which my life is in the process of falling apart. Whether it is in regard to my relationship with her - the rearing of our children - our finances - or any number of other things, I am usually shocked to see that there are problems. This rude awakening is a reminder that I truly do need to pay attention to things - many things - far better. The rude awakening is followed by - regret - conviction - repentance - and a flurry of action to put things right. Oh, and occasionally by being mad. The anger is experienced two ways - first I'm mad that someone is interrupting my stupidity (because at the time I don't see how stupid I'm being). Second, I am mad at myself for being so stupid - and letting things fall into disrepair through my ministry of neglect.
For the next couple of days, I want to look deeper into what is means to avoid having the ministry of neglect in your life. Before we are done, we'll look at several areas where this is important. We will examine the ministry of neglect and its affect on our personal lives, on our family, on our jobs or businesses, on our churches, and finally even on our nation and those who rule over us in the political structures under which we live. The ministry of neglect can be a very dangerous thing - if we continue in it. It is my hope that over the next several days we can strengthen the ministry of diligence - or said in a more eye-opening way - the ministry of true love.
Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false scale is not good. Proverbs 20:23
It is interesting to see how seriously God takes the business dealings of His people. God desires for His people to be an example of His grace - and a testimony to things like honesty and integrity. There is no better place to see this than in the business dealings of a wise and godly man. Too often I run into the attitude that a man's business life is separate from his religious one. The fact of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord - not just of our "church-time," but of every moment we are alive. This means that the way that we act in business should also reflect God's glory to others.
In the society of Solomon's time everything was measured with weights and scales. Since it was primarily an agrarian society farmers and those who raised livestock would bring their goods to market where the crops and the animals would be weighed and valued. Once the price was established - even the money they were paid would then be weighed out so that they could be paid. When you realize this you can see why God speaks of differing weights and false scales. This was what unscrupulous businessmen would do to cheat the system. Their scales would have weights that were supposed to weight a certain amount, yet they would have two sets of weights - one accurate and another that would cheat their customers by being lighter than they should be. Others would have false scales that would underweigh whatever was put on them.
There are ways that men cheat today in business - and they are as varied as the ungodly men and women who use them. Some use kickbacks to get business - while others "cook the books" to embezzle money from their bosses. Some just steal from their business and hope no one catches them. But God is not just interested in the big-time offenders, He hates even the little embezzlements that happen and are overlooked. In fact God uses the word "abomination" to describe how He views dishonesty and a lack of integrity. This word means something utterly loathesome and hated. How does God feel about dishonesty and a lack of business integrity? He despises it - hates it - and considers it loathesome. Really can't be much more clear about something than that now can we?
God's character is impeccable. He is faithful and true. He has never failed to fulfill any of His promises or judgments for that matter. When He says something He means it - and you can bet your very life on it. He is infinitely honest and throughout all eternity He has a perfect record of integrity. Remember dear saints of God that God desires for us to reflect His glory to this world. It was why we were created - to know Him and to reveal His character and love to the world that is all around us. This is why the business world is a key place for a godly witness of integrity and honesty for Him. Rather than think that God separates this part of our lives from our relationship with Him - we should see that this is a perfect place to know Him - and make Him known. When I say this I am not referring to leading a Bible study or sitting down to share the gospel with co-workers - although these things are important in time. But before you do these things it is so important to be a godly example in front of all your colleagues. They need to see your faith as well as hear it. And being a man of integrity and honesty - a man whose word is his bond - a man who can be trusted to care not just for his own interests, but also for those of his customers - being that kind of man is how to truly glorify God in the workplace.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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