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Making Good Use of God's World

Updated: Apr 15


Blog title card; topic is opportunities
Making Good Use of God's World

If you make a habit of reading the Proverb of the day, tomorrow you will read Proverbs 27. The last third of the book of Proverbs is largely a barrage of wise words on a variety of topics. Reading a chapter is like a round of boxing; you never know what wise truth will come at you in the next verse. However, the last five verses of Proverbs 27 break the pattern to address a single topic. Solomon, or perhaps Hezekiah (see 25:1) addresses a man with flocks of sheep and herds of goats. “Look well to thy herds,” he instructs this man in verse 23; take good care of your animals, for they are your food, clothing, and income.


Proverbs 27 paints the picture of a moderately wealthy man with animals, access to enough land for them to graze, and a household which includes not only wife and children, but also servants and maybe even their children. All those people need to eat and be clothed, but instead of buying those necessities, this man has a large enough shepherding operation to produce the meat, dairy, and wool himself. Imagine him shearing his flocks and herds, milking the sheep and goats, and rotating the land so the animals always have grass and plants to eat.


We might be tempted to think the divine admonition to this farmer doesn’t seem to apply to us. We don’t depend on animals and servants to provide for our households. However, we are actually far wealthier than the herdsman in Proverbs 27. We have daily access to things other generations did not, like cold and frozen food, cars, information on current events around the world, HVAC, and indoor plumbing. The appliances and devices we take for granted are our automated servants, and they are cheaper and far more efficient than a household of human workers.


Our access to these benefits has provided us with the free time of wealthy people. Since we don’t have to spend time and labor to grow our own wheat to bake our own bread, we have time to learn many, many different skills and develop talents we already have. We have far more to work with than the man in Proverbs 27. Reasoning from lesser to greater, then, if the herdsman in our text was responsible for the wise stewardship of his resources, how much more responsible are we to be good stewards of everything God has entrusted to our oversight? This responsibility means we should take a second look at our passage to see how we can apply God’s words to our personal wealth.


Take Inventory


The instruction of verse 23 is to take an accurate look at what we manage. It is important that, as we do this, we think of it as our own. While everything we have—property, relationships, money & investments—belongs to God, that does not mean we should merely inventory our blessings like a museum curator or neglect our blessings and act like they will take care of themselves. Rather, we should take responsibility for these resources, for they are under our care in this life. Remember that a steward—like Joseph was—had real responsibility to keep the house functioning, as if it all belonged to him. This householder in Proverbs 27 also has a real responsibility to keep his herd operation running successfully. Are our assets, relationships, and responsibilities thriving, or are they suffering? Look well to these things.


Also, acknowledge that what God has given to you is not merely for your own benefit, but for the benefit of those who depend on you. According to verses 25-26, the herdsman was directly responsible to provide for his household. The income, house, tools, creativity, and opportunities God has given us are likewise intended to benefit those under our care. For their sake, don’t neglect the blessings.


Another aspect of stewardship is to remember that God gives us blessings only temporarily. “For riches are not forever; and doth the crown endure to every generation” (Proverbs 27:24)? We manage God’s blessings, but we do not control them. The Lord can add to or remove them according to His wisdom. Additionally, there are seasons of profit and loss. Sometimes, “the hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and the herbs of the mountain are gathered,” as verse 25 says. Other times it is primarily time for investing work without visible results. Are you in a season of prosperity, or a season of decline? A season of putting in the work, or a season of reaping the benefits of that work? We should know these things.


Finally, as we take proper inventory, we should thank God for the opportunities and blessings, for they all come from Him. Everything we enjoy and manage is from His hand.


Assess the Potential


One rule of God’s world is that His blessings have unrealized potential. For example, the herdsman in Proverbs 27 had more at his disposal than merely a flock of sheep or a herd of goats. According to verses 26-27, there was the potential for clothing, income, and food. This is a simple point, but it is important to remember concerning our own possessions and blessings. A house and land can accomplish much good, generate profit, and bless others. Our time can be used for a hundred different productive pursuits. God designed the world this way, and He expects us to explore the potential He built into it. Consider Luke 19:11-26, where the servants who doubled the master’s money were rewarded while the servant who gave back exactly what he had been given was punished for not investing it.


Identify Opportunities


In our text, the opportunity of the moment is harvest season. “The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered” (Proverbs 27:25). The wise herdsman will take full advantage of the harvest to gather as much as he can, store it securely, and apportion it strategically. It’s important to acknowledge that harvest is a uniquely fruitful season. The opportunities God appoints are not created equal. However, God requires faithfulness in our immediate tasks, regardless of how mundane they seem. Jesus says in Luke 18:10-12 that the mundane is a testing ground for bigger things. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”


The application, then, is to think of ways to use the resources of this season for the glory of God. This may require thinking creatively or moving outside our comfort zone. Remember that God has strategically placed people in each of our lives that will either benefit from our wise, diligent stewardship, or will suffer from our negligent mismanagement. On the other hand, only the Lord knows the potential blessings latent in our resources. It might be quite a lot of wool, and gallons of milk. We should put those resources to good use and realize the potential blessing God has made us stewards of.

 

The above article was written by Jonathan Kyser. He is a pastoral assistant at NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at strengthforlife461@gmail.com.


Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.

 

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