A Small Investment

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We all are drawn to things that please us.  The beauty of a sunrise.  The aroma of a bouquet of beautiful roses.  The taste of an exquisite meal. The joy of a treasured friendship/relationship.  If we only spend our time focusing on things that please us, we would live a very self-centered world.  In the quest for pleasing ourselves, there usually lays the carnage of people behind us that were in the way of or had to be used so we could get what we thought would please us.

I recently watched a secular video about how to improve your life.  As I listened to the video, I was amazed by how many Biblical principles were included in the talk without using the Bible as a reference.  God’s Word has been with us for thousands of years and the principles that God wants us to live by have been around for even longer.  So why do so many want change in their lives, yet they do not want to put into practice the things that will bring about that change.  As a general rule, we are seeking immediate gratification without thought of the long term effects.

If we choose to eat dessert or overindulge in a particular item at dinner, there may be no immediate results but over time those additional calories add up to extra pounds that were much easier to put on than they are to take off.  So why not exercise the pain of discipline now rather than having to deal with the pain of regret later?   We generally do not choose this route of avoiding dessert because we want to please ourselves right now.

God has given us many verses in the Bible that direct our attention towards how we are to live.  These directives are not given by God so He can laugh at us and watch us suffer.  Rather He wants us to live lives that are not just pleasing to Him, but also will produce for us good fruit.

We could use the analogy of a farmer who gets what he sows.  What about the principle of investing or saving now while denying ourselves a short term pleasure for a greater long term dividend.  The principle of pruning a rose bush of all the dead growth produces more beautiful roses in the end.

It is the little investment now that reaps huge benefits later in life. When faced with a choice, no matter how small there will be a consequence to that choice.  When we say yes to one thing we are saying no to something else.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”  (Proverbs 12:22)

If what we say is not truthful or partially truthful, we set ourselves up for mistrust in our relationships.  Trust is easy to lose, but very hard to regain.  The lies may be “small white lies” but something so small can generate large levels of mistrust in our relationships.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6)

What kind of person do we want to be around? One who is proud or one who is humble?  Yet, we make choices each day that support our pride or our humility.  They may seem like small choices, but they do add up.  As they add up, our reputation will precede us as a proud or humble person.

“Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

I am always up for a little bit of competition.  Have we ever thought about loving and honoring others so much it becomes a bit of a competition?  It changes who we think about.  It changes our focus from what we get to what we can give.  We all appreciate when we are shown honor and respect.  Yet, why do we not do the same thing for others.  Do we look for ways to show honor to every person we meet.  Jesus did not order the disciples to wash His feet, rather He outdid the disciples by showing them honor and washing their feet.  Those that are looking to compete in the honor category do not demand to be served, rather they look for ways to serve.

The list could go on, but I think we get the point.  What we invest will in the end not just benefit those that are around us, it will also benefit us.  God gives grace to the humble not the proud.

If we say yes to something we say no to something else.  If we embrace the pain of discipline now we will enjoy being free of the pain of regret later.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

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What is your fruit?

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“She considers a field and buys it;

With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”

Proverbs 31:16

I am a farmer at heart.  My Grandpa owned a farm and planted crops and raised cattle.  While growing up, we had a large garden that we cultivated every year and ate delicious produce from in the summer and the excess Mom would freeze and we would eat it throughout the winter.  I did not appreciate the wonderfulness of this as a child, but I certainly miss that garden now as an adult.  Since we live in the city on a shady lot, I frequent the local farmer’s market to buy my produce and then freeze or can some of the produce so we can then enjoy it throughout the year.

As we look at the literal meaning of this verse, this lady takes time to look and plan which field she will buy.  She makes sure that it will suit her intended purposes.  Since we are told the intention of the field is to plant a vineyard, she uses her knowledge to ensure the field will produce quality grapes.  In order to produce quality grapes, the vineyard had to be planted on a hill facing south.  This causes the roots of the vineyard to search for water and minerals which adds to the complexity and flavor of the grape.  She knew what she was looking for and did not settle or spend her money on something that would not produce the product and profit that she was planning.

“With the fruit of her hand she plants a vineyard.”  The word fruit in this verse fascinates me.  Fruit is produced only when the tree or vine is healthy.  The fruit is a byproduct of a healthy tree.  The healthier the tree the more fruit that is produced.  Not only is there money to buy the vineyard, but there is also money to plant the vineyard.  Since she has planned and prepared so well, there is enough money to purchase what is needed to plant the vineyard.

As women and wives, the better we plan the more fruit we will have for emergencies, extra needs, future plans, or distribution to the poor and needy.  The fruit of this lady was used to invest in a vineyard.  We are not told what she did with the profit from her grapes, but as we look ahead in the chapter we can glean a few thoughts from the following verses.  She helped the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:20).  Her household was clothed in “scarlet.” (Proverbs 31:21).  Her clothing was made from “fine linen and purple” (Proverbs 31:23).

The beauty of this verse is the various qualities we see that we can add to the list of traits our Proverbs 31 woman has.  Though some of us may not have an opportunity to buy a field, we do have opportunity to put the qualities mentioned here into practice.  This special lady devotes her time and attention to planning how she will allocate her money.  She does not go on binge spending sprees nor does she spend her money on things that are temporary.  She takes time to plan how to wisely budget and use her money for household expenses.  As she plans, she is also careful to use the excess money for other needs the family may have or unexpected expenses that seem to always come up.  In other words, the more she is able to save on routine every day necessities, the more money she will have to invest in other needs the family may have.  “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).

Questions:

  1. I have always wanted to have a cottage industry or my own small business. These ideas have changed over the years.  Once I wanted to own a Christian bookstore, then it was a bakery.  Do you have a small cottage industry?  Do you ever dream of having one?  If so, what is your industry or what is dream?
  1. How can you implement the steps this wise lady had into establishing or helping grow your cottage industry?
  1. Maybe a cottage industry has never been your dream, but helping with the family finances is something you would like to do. What principles can you see in Proverbs 31:16 that would help to make your home finances more efficient?
  1. Read Proverbs 22:29. How would this verse apply to our verse in Proverbs 31:16?
  1. Maybe you do not want to plant a vineyard like our wise lady, nor do you want to own a small business. How does the “fruit of her hands” apply to you?  Fruit is what comes as a byproduct of a healthy tree.  What do you have that you can reinvest into something or someone else?
  1. What happens to fruit that is left on the tree? It rots.  What would happen to what God gives you if you do not reinvest it?  See Matthew 25:14-30 and relate this parable to not reinvesting the fruit of our hands.