There are always two ways to do things – the easy way, and God’s way. The easy way is the path of the fool. It’s rooted in pride, or the belief that we know better than God and don’t have to follow His commands. The wicked do things their own way, and their work (for most people in ancient times this was farming, which included “plowing”) is sin in God’s sight, not matter how successful they might appear to be by the world’s standards (Proverbs 21:4). God’s way is to work hard because He wants to develop the character trait of diligence in our hearts. Hard work will lead to material and spiritual rewards for the follower of Christ, while lazy attempts to succeed without putting forth effort will one day lead to empty savings accounts and bankrupt souls (v. 5). The wicked lie and act deceitfully whenever they feel it will help them to get ahead in life (v. 6). They have no problem with hurting others, either physically or with their words and decisions, and treating people unjustly to get what they want (v. 7). It’s a totally self-centered, unholy approach to life. And it leads the person further and further down the road to their own spiritual ruin (vv. 6-7). But while their crooked ways make them guilty before a holy God, the honesty of Christians reflects work that is right and pure and pleases the Creator (v. 8).
Humility, hard work, and honesty – these are the qualities that God looks for in our lives. As students, God cares way more about how you do your class work, homework, and studying than what kind of grades you make. As God told the Old Testament judge Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). In your sports, God cares much more about how you behave and conduct yourself and whose glory you do things for than about the final scores and wins and losses. In your homes, God wants to see you obey and honor your parents from your heart, not just doing what you need to do to avoid punishments.
So what will it be this school year? Will you do things the easy way, or God’s way?
The Text (Proverbs 21:4-8)
4 A haughty look, a proud heart, And the plowing of the wicked are sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
7 The violence of the wicked will destroy them, Because they refuse to do justice.
8 The way of a guilty man is perverse; But as for the pure, his work is right.
Questions to Think About
- Do your efforts at school show humility, hard work, and honesty or pride, laziness, and deceit? How about in your sport? What about in your home?
- Why do you think that God cares so much more about how and why we do things than about what we accomplish?