Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 12:11
"He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense."
One of the things that Solomon continues to hammer home to us is that we must continue to be diligent. If we do not learn to work hard, then wisdom will be of no good to us. We must be willing to put lots of energy into our lives to expect that they will come out all right. There is no magic wand that will allow a person to escape hard work.
This is the Hebrew word abad which is work or serve. Solomon declares that the key to having an abundance of bread is to focus on working your work. I am amazed at how many people want good grades for no work, want a great marriage with no effort, want an enjoyable family with no energy expended on the family, want a large paycheck for just sitting around. In order to have abundance of material and/or spiritual and/or psychological benefits, one must work that area.
This is the Hebrew word sabea and means satisfied, fullness, satiated. The key insight here is that to have satisfaction, enjoyment, and fullness in an area, one must work that area. Put some energy into it. If we want a satisfying paycheck, we must put time and energy into work. If we want a satisfying marriage, we must put time and energy into the marriage. In order to enjoy your family, you have to spend time and energy on the family. In each area that we want a satisfying life, we must put work into that area. Too often I think that we want someone to just give us a great marriage or a great family or a great big paycheck or a great church. We often want someone else to do the work to make something good or abundant, and we just want to pluck the flower without the work. Life does not work out that way.
but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense
This is the Hebrew word radap which means to follow, pursue, be behind. One is following after is the idea. Solomon helps us by saying that he sees people not putting in the energy to the places where it would matter but instead, putting in a lot of energy on things that will amount to nothing.
This is the Hebrew word reqam which means vain, empty. These are things that Solomon notices that one can put a lot of time into them but get nothing out of them. It is amazing that he notices this in ancient biblical times when it seems that our culture, in modern times, specializes in these things. We are a culture of innumerable worthless things. People can spend major portions of their life doing things that get them nowhere. The list is almost endless: movies, video games, clothing, shoes, sports, hobbies, etc.
One of the key insights that wise people internalize is that they will put their effort into arenas that have a payoff, not just an escape value. I have watched people live within the midst of a lousy marriage but have meticulous hobbies. I have watched as people know television shows and movies while they don't know their kids or their relatives. I have watched people plunge into debt in order to pursue a favorite singer or sports hero. God keeps screaming back through Solomon: Put your effort into working your land; put the effort into the arena where there will be payoff! You and I have nine relationships, and we need to put sufficient effort into those nine so that each is a vibrant healthy relationship. If we do this, then we will have a satisfying life.
What are the nine relationships? God, Marriage, Family, Self, Work, Church, Money, Society, and Friends.
Ask yourself if you are putting enough time, energy, and learning in these nine areas?