Summary: Little lizards crawl around church building in Asia and no one seems to mind because everyone knows that they are harmless and they catch bugs that are harmful. Not a bad work ethic.
We are looking at the book of Proverbs. Like one who seizes a dog by the ears
is a passer-by
who meddles in a quarrel
not his own.
Remember last week we met two women who live in the pages of the book of Proverbs: Lady Wisdom and Madame Folly. The final question is: who are you going to follow: are you going to walk of the road of wisdom and strive to be wise, or will you be a fool and live a fool’s life?
Remember our definition of a proverb: “Short sayings, based on real life experience, that holds truth for everyday living.”
Wisdom is practical: it applies to everyday life. So today we look at a big part of our lives: work. If you are a student, your work is school. If you are a stay-at- home parent your work is managing a home. If you are retired your work is volunteering in the Kingdom of God. There are many proverbs that talk about work. We will focus our attention on this one:
“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 coneys are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”
Introduction: Many people think that work is a 4-letter word. Most people see work as a necessary evil. It is something that they simply endure until the weekend. An means to an end ... just a way to get a paycheck. In fact, according to a Princeton management survey of the American public, 62% of Americans say they hate their jobs! Work can be hard. It can be a drag. Many find their jobs unfulfilling, hate Mondays and can’t wait for Fridays. They live for weekends and vacations. Is that the way it’s suppose to be?
Why aren’t all jobs like working in the Garden of Eden?
Donald Miller has challenged my mental picture of the Garden of Eden, and I like the end result. I’ve always pictured the Garden of Eden as something that might fit in a large estate, a small place that can be pictured in a Sunday School lesson, that a person could stroll across in an hour or two. And Adam’s “job” was to name all the animals. I considered this a menial and boring task that God could have done more efficiently himself.
Donald Miller suggests that the Garden was huge, maybe bigger than Yosemite National Park in California, and far more beautiful. More beautiful than any existing National Park. And instead of viewing a parade of animals and randomly picking names for them (cow, horse, slug), Adam put on a backpack and hiked through this gorgeous paradise and found the animals, observed them in their natural habitat, and, like a naturalist, wrote notes and finally came up with a proper latin name. This was a job, a calling. It was something important and exciting that God had called Adam to do. It may have taken him years or even decades to finish.
Don’t miss this: in the Garden of Eden, in the state of perfection, before sin entered human existence, people had jobs. They worked. They strove to accomplish things, things that God called them to do, things that made the world a better, more orderly place. Work may be a four letter word, but it is not a bad word in itself.
One of the things that it might mean to be made in the image of God is that we work. We first meet God as one who works. In the beginning, God created, he worked.
Look at Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” The invisible, spiritual God shows us who he is by his work, by what he has created. We are finite, physical creatures and the only way we can even begin to comprehend God is through the work of his hands.
Part of being made in God’s image is that we work, we create, we are useful for things beyond ourselves.
Proverbs, God’s wisdom, says, if you want to learn something about work, consider some of those animals that Adam searched out in the Garden of Eden. They are small ones. They must have taken a while to find and identify. But if we spend some time considering them and their way of life, we’ll see something of wisdom in them. We can learn from these four small and wise critters: