The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 12:11-20 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense. The wicked man desires the booty of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit. An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, But the righteous will escape from trouble. A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men”.
Heading out the door for your 9-5? Do your work heartily.
Changing a dirty diaper? Work heartily.
Preparing a meal plan for your family? Work heartily.
Playing with your children? Work heartily.
God has planted each of us in a place to work: our homes, at our place of business, in public and private. God has blessed each one of us with gifts, talents, skills, and wisdom to use in the work to which we were called, and we are called to work mightily. If a man is not willing to work, he will not eat (2 Thess 3:10). Jesus was always about His Father’s business, reminding His disciples as He worked and they sought for food, that He had food which they did not know about (John 4:32). Work and sustenance are intrinsically linked to one another, as our Proverb today points out: “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense”.
Worthless things. Work which leads to sustenance is juxtaposed with the pursuit of worthless things. What could the text mean by worthless things? Worthless as used here is an adjective used to describe a pursuit which is vain, or futile. A vain or futile pursuit would be one that is pointless, has no purpose, is fruitless and barren. Pursuing a worthless endeavor could be said to be operating outside the will of God, doing work which will not supply sustenance for your journey. Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, asks this question: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not?” Could these “worthless things” be subjective, differing from one person to another? Could something that is a worthless pursuit for you or I, be a worthwhile pursuit for another? Sure. If the gifts and talents given me by God are such that a certain course in life would clearly be the path I ought to be on, yet pride or a lack of contentment has led me down another course, another path for which I am not gifted, am not skilled, am not called, I may quickly find myself outside the will of God for my life and engaged in the pursuit of worthless endeavors. Perhaps you are gifted in an area, but are in a season of life which will not permit tilling, sowing seeds, and toiling in this calling, and God seems to have you busy in another direction. Work mightily unto the Lord brothers and sisters, as a husband, father, manager, employee, son, or daughter. Our Father loves us and gives us only that which is meant for our good. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”
The scripture tells us that those who pursue these worthless endeavors lack sense. Lacking sense in this regard is more than simply not having common sense, or not having the foresight to recognize their error, but is describing one who void of the counsel of God, being led by their heart and will, rather than the Holy Spirit. They are a person not trusting in the Lord their God with all their heart, but are instead being led along by their passions and appetites. The one void of sense is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6). Laboring for that which satisfieth not, the one void of sense has their mind set on worldly pursuits. In our striving and toiling, if our sight is set upon the perishable things of this world, our deaths will bring about the realization that it was all for naught, as all our vain toiling and the fruit of it, dies with us. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, and that includes worthless pursuits. If however, our minds have been set upon the things above, laboring for that which is imperishable, storing up our treasures where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal, we will be satisfied.
Brothers and sisters, where are you toiling? Are you doing the Lord’s work in your life, satisfied by the things that come to you in this life from the hand of your Father? Are you content, at peace, saying with a clear conscience “Thy will be done”?
Or are you toiling in vain, essentially not doing the work God has given you, and find yourselves in a dry, weary, land, famished and being led along by every appetite of your stomach?
God speaks to us this day, saying “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live” (Isaiah 55: 2,3). Brothers and sisters, in the Words of Christ, “Repent lest you likewise perish”.
Let us kneel together at this time, and lift up our hearts to the Lord in prayer, going boldly to the throne of grace.
O MY LORD,
Forgive me for serving thee in sinful ways --
by glorying in my own strength,
by forcing myself to minister through
by accepting the applause of others,
by trusting in assumed grace
and spiritual affection,
by a faith that rests upon my hold on Christ,
not on him alone,
by having another foundation to stand upon
for thus I make flesh my arm.
Help me to see
that it is faith stirred by grace that does the deed,
that faith brings a man nearer to thee,
raising him above mere man,
that thou dost act upon the soul
when thus elevated and lifted out of itself,
that faith centres in thee as God all-sufficient,
Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
as God efficient,
mediately, as in thy commands and promises,
immediately, in all the hidden power
that faith sees and knows to be in thee,
abundantly, with omnipotent effect,
in the revelation of thy will.
If I have not such faith I am nothing.
It is my duty to set thee above all others
in mind and eye;
But it is my sin that I place myself above thee.
Lord, it is the special evil of sin
that every breach of thy law arises
from contempt of thy Person,
from despising thee and thy glory,
from preferring things before thee.
Help me to abhor myself in comparison of thee,
And keep me in a faith that works by love,
and serves by grace.
Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
1 John 1 :5-9 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 1/19/2020 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)