People like to feel safe. Much of life on this earth seems like an endless effort to bring ourselves comfort, pleasure, and security. We must work and work hard to avoid poverty. Those who are “slothful” or lazy bring destruction to themselves and others (Proverbs 18:9). We don’t want to wind up poor, so we work hard at school so that we can get a good job afterwards. After we get our jobs, if we have the right mix of talent, training, and opportunities, then we may find ourselves with plenty of money to enjoy nice lifestyles. Our wealth can become a cushion or shield against suffering (v. 11a). We may even begin to believe that we are like the high-walled cities of ancient times, unable to be defeated by life’s hard knocks (v. 11b). This is the American dream. Watch any HGTV show. You will see people desiring to find comfort, pleasure, and safety in a home and lifestyle.
Hard work is biblical, and there is nothing wrong with earning and carefully managing wealth. And as my wife continually reminds me, there is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy your house. But the danger of success and riches is that they may cause us to put our trust in temporary accomplishments and possessions rather than our eternal Creator. So the Bible reminds in places like v. 12a that we must not become proud of our strength because pride that is never checked will eventually lead to our destruction, either now or in eternity. Remember the rich man and Lazarus? Or the rich young ruler? They thought they had it all, but Jesus said that they really had nothing in the end. What we want to do instead is to stay humble and give God all of the credit for our ability to work and all of the stuff that He has given us (v. 12b). For the godly, the Lord Himself is our forever “strong tower” who alone can give us real security (v. 10).
As students, today’s passage tells you to work hard but remember that God is in control. He has blessed you with talents, so use them for His glory. Give it your best at school, in your sport or fine art activity, and in your chores at home. Learn now not to be lazy but diligent. But don’t get proud of what you can do or how much money your parents have. Don’t grow proud and choke on God’s blessings. Rather, look to Jesus as your source of strength, hope, and safety. Let Him be your fortress today and every day.
The Text (Proverbs 18:9-12)
9 He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, And like a high wall in his own esteem.
12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility.
Questions to Think About
- Are you known as a hard worker? In what ways?
- Does your family trust in God as their “strong tower”? How can you tell?