The Reward of the Diligent Worker (Proverbs 12:11)
Proverbs 12:11, "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding."
Jerome Smucker was born in 1858. By the late nineteenth century, he and his wife, Ella, had developed a good business, making apple cider in Orrville, Ohio. During the off-season, Smucker transformed his mill and made apple butter for the local farmers, who supplied their own apples. Jerome also made his own apple butter using a recipe developed by his family. Everyone in the family helped in the business. The apple butter was first sold door-to-door for twenty-five cents per half-gallon crock. By 1900, word of the apple butter had spread, and Smucker began selling the crocks to local grocery stores.
The apple butter business became a major part of Smucker's production, and by 1920 the company had added a line of jams and jellies. Smucker's quality quickly became known, and soon the enterprise was the largest independent producer of preserves in the country. Jerome had four children, and one of them, Willard, took over the reins of the company when Jerome died in 1948. Willard's son, Paul, was named CEO in 1970. Under the family leadership, the company continued to prosper. It introduced new ways of shipping fruit in steel drums rather than the older wooden barrels. It also became the first preserves maker to use essence recovery, a technique whereby fruit essence is captured during cooking and then returned before bottling. Although the Smuckers still make apple butter, their most popular products today are strawberry preserves and grape jelly. Today, Smucker's is one of the most recognized names in the jelly industry.
Our society does not value work as it once did. There are many government programs providing funding for those who are unwilling to labor. (This is different than providing help for those who cannot help themselves.) This produces a negative incentive. When there is no connection between work and reward, it is not hard to understand why people regard work as something to be avoided if at all possible. Yet those who refuse to do what they are able to do cheat themselves of the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from diligent labor.
Rather than drifting along with the culture, God’s people should be shining examples as workers. Whether the task is enjoyable or not, or whether it pays as much as we think it should or not, work is part of God’s plan for our lives, and it is ultimately not for our human boss that we work. Paul wrote, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the work You’ve given me to do and for the opportunity to provide for my family. Help me to embrace the dignity of my work. I want to work hard on everything for Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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