First Things First

Reading the Word

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.(Proverbs 24:27, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

Preparation is important. We must always do things in the proper order if we are going to have success. One mistake that seems to be popular in our world today is people biting off more than they can chew. When I say this, I am speaking primarily of financial commitments, but it could be applied to areas of responsibility and other ways as well. The proverb teaches that we must first take care of our work, which is our source of income, before we can provide for our personal comfort.

So many today want all of the comforts of life before having the means to support those comforts. We want a big, fancy house, fine furniture, technological gadgets, and so many other things, but we do not want to wait until we can actually afford them. We do not want to wait to put in the necessary work and effort. Instead, many accumulate great debt that they cannot keep up with and ultimately lose it all in the end. Wisdom knows how to prioritize.


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Willing To Be Messy

Reading the Word

Proverbs 14:4 (ESV)
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is nice to have cleanliness and to have everything neat and tidy. However, it takes work to get things done and work is messy. In today’s proverb, one can keep barns and mangers clean by not having oxen, but oxen are necessary for planting and harvesting crops. So, if we are going to accomplish anything in life, we have to be willing to get a little messy now and then.

I do not know about you, but this is an encouraging proverb. I always feel a little guilty about my messy desk or messy house, but I am reminded that such is necessary to get anything done. A messy desk is the result of the hard work of study and writing. A messy home is the result of raising children and helping them learn and grow. When you get tired of cleaning up and wonder why things are constantly becoming a mess, remember that this is the cost of hard work and productivity.


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Consider the Ant, O Sluggard!

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 6:6–11 (ESV)

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Understanding the Word

Today’s verses address the issue of laziness. We are told that we should observe the way the ant works. Even without leadership, the ant prepares for the year ahead. We must always be in preparation for what the future holds.

The sluggard, or the lazy person, is not like the ant. Instead of looking ahead and preparing, the lazy person is always a step or more behind. Priority is given to leisure rather than to work and preparation. Suddenly, without warning, the lazy person finds himself in poverty because he has fallen so far behind in the necessary work.

Life is about finding the proper balance of work and leisure. There is a time for both. We must work to provide for the present and future. And we must take time from work to appreciate all that God has given us. Both work and leisure can become idols and ruin lives. Let us strive to find the right balance.

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