Why Wisdom Goes to Work

Imagine the snow-capped mountains in the background,
partially shrouded in wispy clouds. You
are sitting on the porch of your Tibetan residence, surrounded only by a few
lit candles and simple wooden furniture. Far from the hustle of the world, your mind is set at complete
ease. Here you can meditate on the
deeper questions of life. You can grow
wise. 


Or not.

In fact, you might be headed away from the type of wisdom
the Bible reveals, not toward it. That’s because, contrary to popular
assumptions, biblical wisdom is not a matter of “thinking” but a matter of
“living.”
 A truly wise man is not the
one who can quote a proverb, but the one who can use his own life as a
demonstration of a proverb. Getting away
from the real world might be helpful to gain some perspective or catch your
breath, but it’s the world itself that functions as the school of wisdom.


Another way to put it: biblical wisdom is less about
philosophy and more about righteousness. It’s less theoretical and more practical.


While the book of Proverbs is written about many topics, one
reoccurring theme is diligence. The
“fool” of Proverbs is seen as lazy, self-indulged “user,” while the “wise man”
is the one who works hard, invests well, and prospers in the long run. Here is a sampling of why wisdom works in
Proverbs:


“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring
wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he
who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”
(10:5)


“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed. The sluggard
buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.”
(26:14-15)


 “Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise! It has no
commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and
gathers its food at harvest.”
(6:6-8)


“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
(14:23)


In our world of get-rich-quick-and-easy schemes, the common
sense of Proverbs should be a breath of fresh air. And, while some of us do work for a living,
it doesn’t hurt to review the basics.


1. God designed human beings to organize and to work.  From the creation forward, humanity has been
expected to manage the world well and work to make a living. (Genesis 1-2)


2. Work is a
privilege, not a burden.
  God gave humans
the ability to progress forward; to invent, to produce, and to create. People who reject these responsibilities and
seek only passing comforts and daily pleasures end up disgusted with life,
bored and aimless. But those who apply
their minds and hands to work discover contentment, joy, and an appreciation
for life.


3. The goal of work
is not just money.
  Sure, wealth is the
result of work. But consider this: in
the New Testament, even slaves were instructed to work with all their hearts,
as if they were serving the Lord. (See
Ephesians 6:6-9) Doing this, even in
such deplorable conditions, would result in heavenly rewards. Not only does work result in God’s blessing
here and now, but if done for the right reasons, it can result in even greater
blessings in the future.


4. Work enables
generosity.
One of the greatest demonstrations of love toward others is
voluntary giving. The Bible cites this
as one of the privileges afforded to those who work hard. “He who has been stealing must steal no
longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may
have something to share with those in need.” (Eph. 4:28, NIV)


So, if you’re looking to grow in wisdom, hold off on that
mountain-meditation condo. Try getting a
job or starting a business; then using what God gives you to do some good for the world.


Dan originally wrote this article for publication in the Marco Island Sun Times.

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