Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Proverbs 27:23-27 Work hard, and work smart (Part I)

23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
    give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
    and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
    and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
    and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
    and to nourish your female servants.

(There is so much good for us in this passage that it is pretty overwhelming. I hope that I can do it justice! )

I think that first we should review our knowledge of the people of the times . . . not the wealthy and powerful, like Solomon, but the everyday folks --- like you and me! Most of the everyday folks were farmers or tradesmen; you might say that they were self-employed. Farmers, whether they raised crops or animals, were almost entirely self-sufficient: they produced most everything that they needed to have in order to survive. They built their own houses, and furnished them with simple things. They made their own clothing and raised food in small gardens for their households, often having olive trees and vineyards  for their own use, as well. Picking their produce, pressing the olive oil, and making small amounts of wine for their own consumption were jobs that they willingly did, in order to provide well for their families. 
All of this was in addition to the labor that they did every day, to either tend flocks, raise crops for sale, or craft items for sale in the local marketplace.  Tradesmen carefully worked with their hands to produce items to sell or to barter, to provide for their families and for their later years, when working might not be so easy.

These verses appear on the surface to be directed at those shepherds, husbandmen, and dealers in cattle of the era; they encourage them to give "due diligence" to their callings.  But I feel that this encouragement is to be extended to all callings, great and small. Whether our business is indoors or outdoors, large or small, we must apply our minds and our hearts to it.  

In our day, there is a saying, "don't work harder, work smarter" but I think that Solomon had both in mind here. He gave three reasons for his commands:
          1. First of all, Solomon says, worldly wealth is uncertain. "Riches are not forever" is how he phrases it. He considered the lambs, the flocks, and the crops to be stable commodities, not like metals that can corrode, tarnish or decay.  Present day application? Anyone have any investments in the stock market? Enough said. (Grin)
          2. Secondly, he points out the graciousness of God's providence. "The hay appears," Solomon tells us. How does it appear? Can we control the rain, the sun, the growing season? Nope. Our Father does that.  And it is our responsibility to use those blessings of crops and vineyards -- not to let them go to waste.
          3. Thirdly, Solomon points out what his farmer listeners already knew: there is profit in wise husbandry. The shepherds and farmers would have been well aware of the value of the meat and the clothing that could be gotten from judicious usage of the flock animals. The masters (and mistresses) of families must provide well for themselves and their families, and must realize that plain food and serviceable clothing are sufficient and wise to be used. One need not have fancy or expensive clothing, or rich and dainty food, to be content with his blessings. 

All of these verses encourage us to be careful and industrious about our business, so that we can provide for ourselves and our families.
We'll continue with these verses tomorrow, OK?


Belinda said...

I'm reminded of folks who win the lottery and wind up worse off than they were before. It isn't really considered "work", but they lose it all in bad decisions because they don't invest it, use it, or donate it wisely. They are not "careful and industrious about their business". I don't know if I could do any better though.

I do try to be a good steward of our finances and don't go around blowing the little money we have. I "consider" (and fret) over spending frivolously or unwisely.

Great post!

Carrie P. said...

I came to realize early in my walk with the Lord that He owns it all. I have always tried to spend the money my husbands works hard for wisely. We have both made some poor decisions in the past but learned from them.
As I grew a garden this past summer I came to realize how much I came to depend on the Lord for rain and for His hand in how much things grew. I was very thankful for the vegetables we got. It is hard work but God told us it would be in Genesis.

CATachresis said...

Yes, it is better to trust the Lord in all things. Paul said I have learned that what ever situation I find myself, to be content. Phil 4:11-13. It is something I am trying to learn at the moment. x