Proverbs 12:11

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.


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Farming is a real job. It can be boring, dirty, and hard. It requires patient waiting for crops to grow, and it offers no glamour of fancy titles, fine suits, or big meetings. It involves long hours, manual labor, much practical wisdom, high risk, no paid vacations, and only modest financial reward. Farming requires self-discipline and self-motivation. It provides food to sustain human life and for eating pleasure. Farming is a real job.

Farming is a good job. In a perfect world without sin, God gave Adam the work of dressing the Garden of Eden; in a sinful world, his first son was a tiller of the ground (Gen 2:15; 4:2). God gave man the knowledge of agricultural wisdom thousands of years before today’s modern inventions (Is 28:23-29). And He blessed men with great returns from tilling the ground and sowing seeds (Gen 26:12; Zech 8:12). Even kings are fed by the field and should pay attention to farming (Pr 27:23-27; Eccl 5:9). It is a good job.

Does it sound too much like work? You prefer not to work so hard? You do not want to be a dumb farmer? You think farmers disappeared with the dinosaurs? You cannot imagine getting dirty every day and never becoming someone important? You want to be a cool and successful businessman with two cell phones? You want people to be impressed? You would rather sleep in and stay up late? Vain persons want to help you.

Call a phone number in the “Business Opportunities” section of your newspaper, and you can learn hard work is for idiots and how to start getting rich this afternoon. They have a “business opportunity” for you to be “financially independent.” They have an “insider investment” that yields ten times what working peons get. Yea! It is your lucky day! You can now ridicule farmers and farming, as you write a check to your new friend to get started. You are enlightened and liberated. You can earn money the easy way.

Instead of working hard and getting dirty, you can drive a sports car and use a cell phone to arrange “sales meetings.” Just think about this great deal. If you can get a thousand people working for you – trying to become you by buying your overpriced product – then you will not have to work at all. What a wonderful deal! Help yourself to the American dream! You are in business – all you have to do is find more discontented farmers and tell them they can get rich by writing you a check. Farmers will soon be extinct.

What did Solomon say? What did the man who knew the most about economic success say? What does God say? They both say that the farmer will have plenty to eat – he will be successful. And they both say the greedy fellow looking for Easy Street is a fool and a loser. He is going down to poverty (Pr 13:11,20,23; 28:19). This rule of economic wisdom applies to every honest and useful profession, not just farming. And it condemns every business idea that is not based on a legitimate product and hard and patient work.

What is the secret to success from this proverb? Get up early, go do a boring job, and do it well; forget foolish ideas of easy money or “business opportunities.” Plowing your field will put you far ahead of men chasing dreams of easy riches and high-return investments. If you have a job, do it with your might, and let God take care of the rest (Pr 10:4; 12:24; 13:4; 22:29; 27:18; Eccl 9:10). If you listen to the discontentment and dreams of others, you are a fool on your way down. Their talk will lead you to penury (Pr 13:11; 14:23).

Consider tilling, which is plowing and preparing land for raising crops. It is done in the spring along with a major investment in seed and fertilizer, when there is no evidence of a harvest. It is boring, hard, hot, and dirty. You must live on credit or savings for six months, getting financially poorer every day, while your back grows sorer every day. Solomon must have been crazy. Working hard and long and getting poorer cannot be right. But it is right! There is prosperity waiting only a few months away (Gen 26:12).

But one day you come home sweaty and filthy to discover an escape from farming. A vain person in a fine suit and driving a BMW is there to charm you and your wife about his exciting life with a “business opportunity.” He says, “Join us! Surely you do not want to be a loser all your life! Become a ‘distributor’! Buy my overpriced products and get rich!” You quickly write out a check to this successful-looking man for some freeze-dried coconut that will cure baldness, believing his tale that everyone needs it and wants it.

Then you attend a “sales meeting.” After a prayer, the pledge to the flag, and singing “God Bless America,” a beautiful couple claiming to be millionaires prances across the stage flashing Rolexes and photos of fancy houses. Beaming with pride, they tell about quitting farming and spending half the year sailing their custom yacht in the Caribbean. You leave that night wondering why no one talked about freeze-dried coconut and why there was a typical distribution in the audience of male pattern baldness.

What is vain about this “success”? The beautiful couple never showed the 1,000 “distributors” in their down line who never made a dollar, and who were extorted into buying overpriced products to pay for the yacht through high-pressure tactics, product misrepresentation, and promises of quick riches. Grow up! Overpriced coconut cannot make anyone rich, unless someone lies! If you believe their story, why not become a billionaire like Bill Gates? Or better yet, play the lottery! You have more chance of winning a lottery than owning a yacht. How can buying coconut make you rich? Think!

What made Bill Gates a billionaire? The time and chance of God’s providence (Eccl 9:11)! For every Bill Gates, there are 10 million men who make an average income, and there are 1 million losers, who hurt their families chasing Bill’s illusionary “success.” But you can reduce mere chance, and you can harness time, for plenty of bread, by working your farm each day and trusting the Lord to supply His rain and sunshine for a harvest. This economic rule applies to all legitimate professions and business ventures.

In all labor, like working a farm, there is profit. But the talk of the lips, like rah-rah stories of get-rich-quick ideas, tends only to poverty (Pr 14:23). Repeat, only to poverty! Many lose money, peace, and integrity chasing the “success” of vain persons (Pr 13:11,23). Though they are skilled and could have a great job, they follow dreams to their ruin. While there are many reports of boom-and-bust businesses and investments, the only reason all vain schemes are not bust is God’s judgment of fools’ gold (Pr 1:32).

Skepticism is wisdom! Wise men are critical, skeptical, and pessimistic. They are not convinced easily. Only fools quickly believe stories of easy money and super investments (Pr 14:8,15; 4:26; 22:3; 27:12). Things sounding “too good to be true” are just that, too good to be true! Only fools believe them. Wise men scoff at them. Wise men prove all things (Pr 18:17; 28:11; I Thess 5:21). Discretion and prudence, which are synonyms for wisdom, direct men to be cautious and pessimistic about new ideas and the future.

Vain persons resent sober objections, for their conceit is too great and their time too short (Pr 26:16,12; 21:2). They are copying their mentors, who rent Rolexes and lease sports cars. They expect you to naively and foolishly believe their story like they did others’. If you ask critical questions of these vain promoters, they will ridicule your questions as Neanderthal nonsense that keeps success from happening to you. If they were to waste time worrying about facts, the easier fools necessary for their success will get away!

Vain persons hate skeptics, for they need you to join quickly in order to make their next lease payment. Dreams hate questions! If you do not write a check immediately, they must scramble to find another fool. Since no one is buying freeze-dried coconut for baldness, they must keep finding more “distributors” to make a “business investment.” When no more “distributors” can be found, the house of cards collapses, and they adjust to “market conditions” by promoting weight loss pills to the same down-line of fools.

There are no secrets to success. It is by hard work, self-denial, patience, time, and God’s blessing. There is no free lunch, or even a cheap lunch. Lunch is by getting wheat from the ground and meat from the herd. Avoid vain persons who are always looking and talking about “business opportunities” (Pr 9:6; 13:20). What is a vain person? Someone trying to tell you there is an easy way to make a living. Following vain persons is reading their materials, listening to their ideas, and thinking about their investments. Go plow another acre instead of listening. You will be much farther ahead in the long run.

Starting as a trash collector, or any other legitimate profession, and working hard with basic principles of godly wisdom will always bring more success than following another bright idea for easy riches. Any lawful job pursued diligently, with God’s rules for success applied, will work! Instead of worrying about a glamorous job, worry about how diligent, faithful, punctual, and skilful you are with your boring job! Compare:

Hard work + savings + safe investments + patience = prosperity. This is tilling your land.

“Business opportunity” + “super investment” + rah-rah stories = poverty. This is vanity.

Young man, there are Ponzi schemes (if you do not know what one is, you better learn), stock tips, buying real estate with nothing down, insider information, “business opportunities,” sure-thing commodities trading, swamp land in Florida, “ground floor” opportunities, miracle products, multi-level marketing programs of all kinds, and other lies to relieve fools of their money, especially in a greedy and excessive generation like the present. Grow up, buy a farm, and get to work. You will be far ahead in the long run.

Love your job! Whatever it might be! Thank the LORD for it, even if you consider it boring. Work hard and faithfully at it. You will be satisfied with plenty of bread, and you will live to see the vain persons in bleak poverty. Eventually they will be unable to find another fool to buy their freeze-dried coconut as a business investment, and their “financial independence” lies will come tumbling down. You will have savings in the bank, an honest reputation for not promoting dreams, and a legitimate job for the future.

The Lord Jesus had Easy Street offered to Him by the devil and the Jews (Luke 4:5-7; John 6:15), but He remained totally committed to the hard work of the cross, for He saw the true riches that were set before Him for patiently enduring (Heb 12:2-4; Ps 16:8-11).

Itching ears today call for a shiny, new form of godliness called contemporary and casual worship (II Tim 3:5; 4:3-4), but continuing in the old paths of sound doctrine will fill your soul with the finest bread (II Tim 3:14-17; 4:1-2; Jude 1:3; Jer 6:16; 23:28-29).