Proverbs 17:2

A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.


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Discrimination is a flimsy excuse. Foolish or lazy men must shift the blame for slow career progress, so some cry about discrimination. They say they are held back because they are black, old, female, Hispanic, white, young, male, pierced, painted, or Muslim. If you have not heard it, they will invent it. They blame the great enemy discrimination.

But Solomon knew better. Servants, or even sons, are not promoted due to being lazy, stupid, disrespectful, or slow. Color, age, sex, creed, or nationality have little to do with it. Men in positions of authority need performance and productivity; they will reward those who help them achieve their objectives, regardless of their personal characteristics.

How important is wisdom? Wisdom brings promotion and honour – foolishness brings demotion and shame (Pr 3:35; 4:8; 12:8; 16:20; 22:4). Diligence brings advancement; slothfulness brings starvation (Pr 12:24; 20:4; 22:29). A man not progressing professionally must be foolish, slothful, disrespectful, slow, or a combination thereof.

A wise servant will be promoted over a foolish son. Consider the rule. A son has the inside track and his father’s heart. But an owner or employer demands performance! He does not care about age, color, sex, creed, or nationality. He desperately needs productivity, punctuality, integrity, and obedience. He has no use for foolish or lazy sons.

A wise servant can be promoted over a son, and he may get an inheritance with the man’s own sons – a portion of the family business! How? An owner or boss craves performance by those under him, or he cannot get a sufficient return on labor or capital for his own objectives. He will reward those who perform well with their assigned duties (Pr 27:18).

A hard-working servant will pass a lazy son (Pr 10:5). Kings promote such men (Pr 14:35). Discrimination is an excuse of foolish, lazy, slow bellies! Successful men resent complaining sluggards, who blame circumstances rather than their own foolishness and poor performance. They want men who will get the job done, and they will reward them.

When King Solomon saw Jeroboam’s industry – intelligent, diligent, and systematic application of effort – though he was a young man, he promoted him into management (I Kgs 11:28). He did not give the job to any of his sons. A few years later Jeroboam was king of ten tribes of Israel, and Solomon’s favored son Rehoboam had only two tribes!

Success in this prosperous, generous, and slothful age is easy for a Christian. It hangs like a ripe plum from a tree. With a ladder named wisdom, it is within easy reach of all. Dear reader, climb and take it! Do not make excuses; do not blame others; use the ladder and pick the fruit before someone else does. This book of Proverbs is the manual for wisdom.

Foreigners often come to America with very little and make prosperous lives. They do not complain, sue, or talk of discrimination. They work diligently, live frugally, save faithfully, adapt wisely, and exist peacefully. But others with greater advantages go nowhere. What is the difference? Without knowing God, some practice natural wisdom.

Joseph was a teenage foreign slave with a shepherd’s resume, which the Egyptians despised. But he advanced by God’s blessing in Potiphar’s house (Gen 39:1-6). Though accused and convicted of rape, faithfulness in prison earned him an administrative role there (Gen 39:19-23). Then he passed Pharaoh’s sons and ruled Egypt (Gen 41:38-46)!

Daniel was a teenage Jewish war captive that was made a eunuch. But he graduated at the top of his class in the king’s management program (Dan 1:18-21). Though a foreigner, he was promoted over all Babylon and was chief of staff to King Nebuchadnezzar. He retained his high positions for 70 years, even when Cyrus the Persian took the empire.

David conducted himself wisely and the nation loved him (I Sam 18:30). What was his background? He was a shepherd from the lowly town of Bethlehem, ignored by his own family when they considered sons for honor. He easily passed his seven older brothers. And the reigning king’s own family chose David over their father. Let God be true!

What is the source of success in this proverb? Wisdom! It is the quality that embodies all the instruction of this book. A black, female, Hispanic Muslim from Sri Lanka with a lisp and a limp can still get ahead, if she were to practice the wisdom of Proverbs. But if she does not, the fool will end up serving a wise man (Pr 11:29)! Which will you be, reader?

A poor child can be promoted past an old king for one simple reason – wisdom (Ec 4:13). The king resents being admonished, so he rejects correction. A man too proud to listen to others is worse than a fool (Pr 26:12). A wise child is willing to learn (Pr 9:9). He has no problem being told what to do. That young man is going somewhere! The king, nowhere!

What is diligence? It is working hard and fast without letup until the job is finished. Diligence looks for the next job, attacks it with passion, and finishes it without complaining or resting. Wisdom does not think about lunch all morning and quitting time all afternoon. It seeks to do the best job it can, quickly, until the job is finished perfectly.

Reader, God through King Solomon has given you much professional hope, if you will read and believe this proverb. Forget excuses! Remember performance! Stop blaming circumstances and outwork those around you. Learn to work smart. Be punctual, respectful, and honest. The cream always rises to the top. Learn the book of Proverbs and apply it every day. Admit mistakes and redouble your effort. Love your work, and do it with your might (Eccl 9:10). Trust God to promote you (Ps 75:6-7; Col 3:22-25). He will!

Jesus taught this doctrine regarding spiritual things for His disciples and apostles (Luke 12:35-48). Diligent servants during a master’s absence would be promoted to rule over all that he owned. But those who slacked off would be fired and thrown out with the liars. Consider well the high standard to which you are called. Labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Be faithful and diligent in the kingdom of heaven and receive His blessing, rather than complaining He is too hard and discriminates (Matt 25:14-30). Jesus condemned that wicked and slothful servant, stripped him of his money, and cast him into outer darkness where he could gnash his teeth and wail about his misery. And He gave his money to the man with much. The rich get richer by wisdom, and the poor get poorer without wisdom.

Christian employees should be the best on any job (Rom 12:11; Col 3:22-25; I Thes 4:11-12; I Tim 6:1-2; Tit 2:9-10). Outstanding conduct on the job adorns the doctrine of God your Saviour and saves Christianity from blasphemy far more than words. Do everything you do as to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and He will reward you now and later.

Jesus Christ was made a little lower than the angels as the human Servant of God (Matt 12:18). But He so wisely and faithfully finished the most difficult work ever assigned that He was promoted far above all of the angelic sons of God (Job 1:6; I Pet 3:22). He never slacked off nor became discouraged, and today He rules over all (Phil 2:5-11).