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Proverbs 6:115comment (0)

June 5, 2008

By Jerry W. Batson

Related Scripture: Proverbs 6:115

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity (Retired), Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Three Rules for Working Smart
Proverbs 6:1–15

A truism of the workplace is that working smart is better than working hard or long. Combining working smart with either working hard or long promises the greatest outcome, if not a healthy and balanced life. Smart “workaholics” may out perform others but lead a very narrow life or risk ruining their health, not to mention sacrificing family and friends in the process.

Young, median and older adults find themselves at different points on the life spectrum. Whether still charting a career, coming to grips with goals or adjusting to retirement, people usually want to have a better work life. This lesson directs us to three rules for working better by helping us work smarter.

Be Wary of Foolish Entanglements (1–5)

In these verses, we hear a wise father urging his son to avoid legal and financial agreements that depend on someone else’s faithfulness. The father knew that some legal agreements would put at risk his son’s control over his own assets. Failure to forego foolish financial traps can put at risk our ability to provide for ourselves and our families.

A trap is ongoing credit card debt. When we sign the credit card voucher, it is as the father said to his son, “You have been entrapped,” unless we have the means to pay in full. Debt puts us in our neighbor’s power, especially if that “neighbor” is a credit card company. The counsel of the father to his son was “escape like a gazelle from a hunter.”

The father’s counsel does not rule out helping neighbors in need or making commitments to our church’s financial needs. The issue is putting our financial well-being at risk to people or circumstances beyond our control.

Be Wise in Your Work Ethic (6–11)
Wise words from his father advised the son to adopt the ant’s work habits. We must learn to take seriously our work responsibilities. The Bible calls upon believers to labor diligently at honest work in order to provide for their needs, to have means to help others and to keep from becoming dependent on others (1 Thess. 4:11–12; Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:7–12).

The issue is failure to work diligently due to laziness, something ants do not do. Some people are unemployed not because of idleness but lack of opportunity. Others do no work because of disabilities. Some display a commendable work ethic but do so in employment that does not pay enough to provide for their needs. The Bible does not take to task those who lack the opportunity or ability to work.

At the opposite end of the unwise work ethic spectrum, one finds those who are “workaholics.” Such people tend to neglect the weightier matters of life and family. The Bible commands us to rest regularly from work for personal rejuvenation and spiritual focus. Failure to do so is flagrant disobedience.

Be Warned About Wicked Dealings (12–15)
In continuing his advice, the father expressed concern about people who are troublemakers that sow discord. His wise counsel turned a spotlight on wickedness, dishonesty and evil plots. Being wicked or dishonest in our dealings with others invites judgment and disaster. Joining others in shady dealings or evil schemes is to become liable to God’s judgment.

News reports regularly chronicle the downfall of people who thought they could deal wickedly and get away with it. The principle of Galatians 6:7 continues to be true: Whatever people sow, they also reap — if not in time, then for sure in eternity.

Believers in the workplace face two concerns. First, in business dealings and work relationships, God’s people are always to act honestly and avoid stirring trouble by malicious acts and attitudes. We are never “off duty” in our role as Christ’s witnesses. Second, while honest themselves, believers are wise to remain alert to the possibility that some co-workers may not be honest. Abetting others by silence is hardly the high road for Christians. Indeed the high road may call us to incur suffering for Christ, but it also wins His “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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