I chose to hunker down in the book of Proverbs for 2013. The wisdom promised as a result motivates me. Anything considered more valuable than jewels and incomparable to anything else I may desire (Prov. 8:11), that I want to acquire in greater quantities.
Recently I progressed in my reading to Proverbs 10, the second table of Solomon’s writings. The wise king’s starting place intrigued me. In one respect, it did not surprise. By and large this book of the Bible exists for young people and their benefit. Just read the first table in chapters one through nine to see quickly what I mean.
In the second table, where the writer moves on to a wide variety of proverbial sayings, he focuses on wisdom as it applies to a son or daughter from a unique perspective. He considers the prospect of a youth’s choices in terms of their impact for good or for ill on the parents. Here’s the text:
A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. 2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. 3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. 4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.
Now take it from a father who knows. Parents can do all kinds of things to bring shame on their kids. That’s a different post. This article deals with the other side of the equation. And make no mistake about it, Mr. Middle or High School student, your choices can have enormous ramifications on the Ma and Pa’s psyche. You should care about that. Check out the fifth commandment if you think otherwise. If you turn out wise, you make them glad. If you go the way of a shipwrecked fool, you bring sorrow and shame. Which do you want? Settle the matter early. Choices you make today impact the kind of person you become tomorrow.
Please note the acid test Solomon immediately goes to in terms of measuring a youth’s wisdom or folly quotient – his or her approach to wealth. No surprise here. Jesus said you can’t serve God and money (Matt. 6:24). As my sidekick in ministry likes to say: time and money tell all. What you do with your time and your money reflects the idols of your heart. The heart always worships what it desires most. Never, never, never, dear teenager, doubt the significance of your disposition toward the almighty dollar.
Solomon cites two virtues related to wealth and its accumulation that, embraced by the child of a parent (presumably wise as well), will ensure a glad-hearted response on the part of that parent – integrity and industry. Kids, you can fall off the horse in at least two directions in this money thing. First, you can resort to evil in the name of making a profit. Good luck with that. Deception, fraud, embezzlement, or any other wicked means to line your pocket with Benjamins will not help you on the day you die – only righteousness will. God is not mocked. You sow what you reap (Gal. 6:6-10). Think I heard that preached somewhere recently.
Second, you can care less about acquiring wealth by perfecting the art of laziness. The writer talks about summer and harvest and the like because that connected with the way folks made their living those days in an agricultural society. You can make the jump on your own to our industrial/service age. The issues don’t differ. Diligence is a virtue. As a rule, it makes one wealthy (Prov. 13:4). The Hebrew word for “diligent” is used in Isaiah 41:15 of a threshing instrument that winnows grain well because of its sharpness. Sloth makes you dull. It will lead to poverty. Industry, hard work, showing up on time at your place of employment, laboring hard throughout the day, giving 110% effort – these things, because of your prudence, will see you well taken care of AND make your folks proud rather than ashamed.
So, what’s it going to be? Integrity or shadiness? Industry or sloth? Death or life? It’s not the most important aspect of these questions by a long shot, but it still matters. The difference in your choices will make for deliriously happy parents or dreadfully sad ones. Determine by God’s grace and the power of the gospel of Jesus to do all you can for the former.