Margin notes: Get your hands dirty


Proverbs 28:19–20 (ESV) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Hard work is NOT a dirty word. Yes, it is true that due to the Fall, there is pain and opposition in our labors – but these are not the natural attendants of labor. God made us to “keep” the Garden, to tend it and subdue the Earth. Sin made these labors painful in their fruitfulness. But there is an original joy and reward in labor and accomplishment that is inherent in labor as God gave it to us. A genuine sense of satisfaction in completion of a task we are meant to enjoy.

There are several quick observations on this passage worth noting.

First – Work with what God HAS given to you, rather than pining after and chasing what He hasn’t. There is fruitfulness in His appointments.

Whoever works “his” land, will have plenty of bread. Remaining faithful to what God has providentially given you, in the situations He has placed you – WILL bring forth solid sustenance for your soul. Neglect of these, or even worse – running after things which bear no real fruit or result – will nevertheless bring a result – barrenness. Has your soul been lean as of late? Is it possible you’ve been giving your time and effort to what has nothing to give you back? Wastes of time and effort? Eyes made to behold the beauty of Christ, are filled with images that are pleasant, but fleeting and useless. Ears filled with sounds that don’t do a single thing to enrich the heart or mind. The mind occupied with foolish, empty things – more tuned into celebrity gossip and commentators commenting on anything and everything – but not concentrating on anything with eternal spiritual value.

No wonder our souls are lean.

Second – Get rich schemes are anything but. They are contrary to God’s normative means of giving us prosperity WITH character. To want to be rich by means of a shortcut, is to reveal our greed. To want to waste our time in things which hold no true value – is to prevent our own selves from the very things we need and desire. These two always go hand in hand.

Again, this is not restricted to material things. It is just as true in spiritual matters. The one who will not apply him or herself to know the Word and seek God’s face will have a lean soul – period. We cannot ignore spiritual disciplines, and the hope to walk in the benefits of such as though they are somehow just dropped upon us from the sky. If we work hard at it, we’ll enjoy the fruit. If not, we will be impoverished.

Don’t “wish” you knew your bible better – study it. Don’t repine that you’re prayer life is dry – pray. If worship with the saints is boring – ask yourself – what am I putting into it? Give to the needy so as to check your own greed. Deny yourself something legitimate to live in freedom over the tyranny of self. Find a need and fill it. Seek out someone to share the Gospel with. Seek out other Christians for the specific purpose of discussing the goodness of Christ together and the nature of your growth in the Savior.

Such are the things that make for a fruitful, satisfying Christian walk. It will not come in instantaneous jolts from the heavens. It comes from consistent plowing, planting, watering, weeding, tending and then – harvesting. Get your hands dirty – and you’ll get your heart full. 

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2 thoughts on “Margin notes: Get your hands dirty

  1. Hi Reid,

    These are good words and perhaps ones that Calvinists tend to need more than others. Some of us tend to use God’s sovereignty as an excuse to just trust him and not interfere as it were (read, do nothing). But this is to ignore the means in which he works; by enabling us to work and pursue him.

  2. Been a big burden on y own heart lately actually. If faith without works is really dead – I fear I respond all to little to the truth I claim to hold – and fail to stir up my own heart and mind by way of the ordinary disciplines of the Christian life. May we learn to work while it is still “day.”

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