“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit.” (Proverbs 12:11–12, ESV)
Imagine you just won the lottery. The huge windfall is sure to shift your countenance. Happiness flows, at least in the moment.
In his book, The Paradox Of Choice, author Barry Schwartz cites a study about lottery winners. When polled, people believe if they won the lottery they'd experience a honeymoon of happiness, but think it would fade over time. But they underestimate just how much it would actually fade.
When polling real-life lottery winners, the study found their happiness went back to about the same level as before, if not worse. In other words, those polled underestimated how far their happiness would slip after winning the lottery. We all know it would slip, we just have no idea how much. To get-rich-quick is not the sweet life.
Our world is looking for the get-rich-quick scheme. Like Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’s Veruca Salt, “We want it now, daddy! We want it now!”
Solomon applies his mind to this concept. The one who works his land is the one who has plenty of bread and plenty of fruit. The one who follows worthless pursuits and covets quick spoil is the one who is actually empty.
We need this encouragement. We need to see the validity of the long road. We can’t all reach our pinnacle at age 28. Where’s the fun in that?
No, we build a life. Slowly, steadily, we work that land. What God has given us, the people He’s entrusted to us, we develop. Plodding and steady, we believe the bread will be good and the fruit will last.
This life, it seems, is the sweeter life. That bread tastes better, the fruit sweeter. The perspiration leads to appreciation.
When I was a boy my friends and I would sometimes play the “what would you wish for if you had three wishes” game. The best answer, it seems, is nothing. What I have not put long-term effort into is actually unenjoyable. I want what God gives me as I faithfully work and live as He asks me to.
Let’s work that land.