The Work of Preparing
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches…Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” (Proverbs 24:3-4, 27)
I am a planner; I put things on my iPhone calendar intending them to be timely reminders. Unfortunately they often immediately become self-imposed deadlines, rather than gentle nudges. Today I worked on a task that was a reminder for Friday; I’m glad I waited since I had more information to work with today than I would have had then. Sometimes what looks like procrastination turns out to be wisdom, and sometimes it’s just stalling. Today millennials are waiting to get married, in their 30s and 40s. Are they procrastinating? There are many factors to consider, including maintaining sexual purity (an excellent reason to get married sooner) and educational commitments (that may make it hard to live in the same location). I wonder if some couples are putting off marriage until they feel economically secure, having paid off school loans or having saved enough to purchase a home. There is a lot of wisdom in being financially prepared to start a new family life.
Today’s Scripture encourage wise preparation in building a home, which includes starting a family, according to most commentators. “A family is built up, furnished and supplied with the necessaries and conveniences of life, and brought into flourishing and prosperous circumstances, by wise and prudent management, by diligence and industry, through the blessing of God upon them, without taking such methods as evil men do.” (1) How does one show wisdom when preparing to build a home, or once started, to begin anew? Jesus answered the questions in the context of the cost of being a disciple. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30) It is wise to count the cost of all that we do spiritually, materially, emotionally, or socially. We begin our ledger with thoughtful prayer and the realistic projection of the time and financial commitment as well as the benefits and drawbacks. If we choose to do one type of work that excludes others. If we decide to rent a house, we have chosen not to purchase one. I often turn down opportunities to socialize because I have other priorities. People may give me a hard time, but I know what is important to me at this point in my life.
We are to prepare for our work wisely and also work to prepare for all other aspects of our lives. Proverbs 24:27 emphasizes the logic of turning the soil, fertilizing, and planting the seed in the field before starting to build a home. The seed will grow into crops yielding profits, which will be used to finance the construction of a suitable dwelling, furnished by the riches of wisdom. “Proverbs encourages sensible preparation before building a house, so that one may attend well to the life lived in it.” (2) When we are sincere in our commitment to live a God-centered life we are willing to take time to prepare for the work God gives us and to work diligently at it for necessities before luxuries or “extras.”
In what way do you need to prepare for living a wise life? How does your work fit into your priorities? Have you counted the cost of your work, ministry, or family life? Are you afraid to take a closer look, or willing to see where the cost is inordinate for wise living?
(1) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 24:3, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-24.html
(2) ESV Study Bible Notes, Proverbs 24:27, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.