He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense. Proverbs 12:11 NASB
I have land! I don’t own a farm or field but I own land! Every person alive has been given something to be productive and self-sustaining. Like the parable of the talents (money) Jesus references the fact that I have been given something of value. But in that same parable he also showed that a man’s view of himself and his world either constrained or enabled what he did with it. And just like Solomon, he showed that fruitfulness was something that proceeds from my heart and intentions. The point: use what I have been given! Take advantage of my field and earn a living at the same time.
There are so many incredible things to explore on this earth. When I walk into a library, I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities of subjects within which I may immerse myself. What would qualify something as worthless? There are different shades of meaning depending on the translation: “But he who pursues (NKJV) follows frivolity, or (NIV) or chase fantasies, or (MSG) chase whims and fancies, or (Rotherham) runneth after worthless men.” The thing which I spend my time on should produce something. There should be an outflow from my life that feeds another. It may be bread. It may be art. Or an invention. Or music. My life should be interconnected with others in a way where we nourish each other physically, mentally, spiritually. The contrast Solomon is making seems plain enough: be useful.
I was reading a book recently about a period during World War II on the Island of Crete which explored the incredible athleticism of the Cretans. These men had a deep devotion to their community of fellow Cretans. And they were incredibly fit and capable athletically. Although they did not outwardly look buff or sculpted like our modern gym rats, they could do more than most men — from lifting heavy objects to enduring climbs over treacherous mountains with very little nourishment. Their motto: “Be fit to be helpful.”
But to me, the better questions are: What is worthy? What holds value? Where is the kingdom of heaven for me today? I want to seek it first. Discovering where I may produce bread is often a value decision: Is what I am doing right now the right thing to do? It’s easy to get lost in the moment — the iPhone news stream, the program on TV, the binging on a book, but I want to live out my love for God and for my family in deed. Jesus says that when I do, the other things I have need of will be added.