Proverbs 10:16

Proverbs 10:16 "The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin."
Proverbs 10:16 Church Lancaster NY
The proverbs are often written as an Observation in order to provide some Information that will ultimately bring some Inspiration.  This proverb is written in that classic manner.  Solomon shares an Observation about humanity that is intended to provide key Information for humanity that he ultimately hopes will bring some Inspiration to humanity.  Guided by the Holy Spirit, Solomon’s intention in this proverb is to help his readers see that they can and should choose their tendencies.  

We all have tendencies that are given to us at conception deep within our genetic makeup.  Circumstances within the womb, during our delivery and early in our childhood help shape these tendencies, but we all have natural tendencies.  Some of us tend to be shy while others of us tend to be more social.  Some of us tend to be mechanically-minded while others of us tend to be artistically-minded.  Some of us tend to see the glass half full while others of us tend to see the glass half empty.  We all have tendencies that are relatively unique to us or at least, to our genetic line.  These are the particular personality things that we do easily, naturally and without much effort or forethought.
 
In addition to personality tendencies, we all have moral tendencies.  Unfortunately, these tendencies are less unique than personality tendencies.  While there are differences in our moral tendencies, we all share the same general tendency when it comes to morality and unfortunately, it’s not good.  Some of us tend to lust while others of us tend to lie but all of us tend to sin.  Some of us tend to jealousy while others of us tend to pride but all of us tend to sin.  Some of tend to disobey authority while others of us tend to cheat authority but all of us tend to disobey God.  Sadly, it’s a natural tendency for our race to choose evil over good.

While it may not be immediately evident when reading this proverb, Solomon is hoping his readers will confront their natural tendencies and choose another tendency.  This may not be obvious to the casual reader and that is because it is the responsibility of the reader to become a thinker.   A reader will read this proverb and take note of Solomon’s observation about the labor of the righteous and the fruit of the wicked.  A thinker however, will ask himself why Solomon made the observation.  In applying more thought to the proverb, a thinker will then learn a valuable truth that comes from Solomon’s important observation.  When that truth is learned, the thinker will make application to himself and ideally become inspired to choose his own tendencies.

What is that “valuable truth” that comes from this proverb?

It is the truth that we have natural tendencies and we have chosen tendencies.  In this proverb, the righteous are defined by their WORK while the wicked are defined by their FRUIT.  Working is very different than bearing fruit.  Working is intentionally while bearing fruit is rather unintentional.  An apple tree doesn’t work hard to produce apples.  An apple tree produces apples unintentionally.  It’s natural for an apple tree to produce apples.  It doesn’t have to work at it – it just does it.  As long as an apple tree is living, it generally produces apples.  Working however, is much different than bearing fruit.  Working is much more intentional and unnatural.  Sweat is the result of doing something difficult.  Sweat is the result of doing something that doesn’t come natural and that isn’t easy.  It doesn’t take any work for me to eat food.  It doesn’t take any work for me to go to sleep.  It doesn’t take any work for me to watch tv.  It doesn’t take any work for me recline on the couch.  It does however, take work to get up and fix the leaking roof.  It does take work for me to catch an attic rodent.  It does take work for me to dig a hole for a mailbox.
 
Solomon observed that a righteous man was righteous because he “labored” and that a wicked man was wicked because he just did what was natural to do – “bear fruit.”   Furthermore, he observed that a wicked man’s submission to natural tendencies “TENDED TO SIN” while a righteous man’s choice to resist natural tendencies “TENDED TO LIFE.”  If we seriously consider this observation, then we will learn some valuable information.  We will learn that our natural moral tendencies lead to immorality while our unnatural moral tendencies will lead to wholesome morality.  Therefore, the key to an abundant life is choosing the HARD path and resisting the EASY path.  The key to an abundant life is not doing the easy thing but instead, choosing to do the hard thing.  If we do what comes easy for us, it will TEND TO SIN.  If we choose to not do what comes easy for us and morally sweat a little, it will TEND TO LIFE, or to an abundant God-pleasing life.  The choice of what will most likely happen in our lives is up to us – we choose what will TEND to happen.

The Bible teaches us that it takes WORK to do right.  It teaches us that it takes some spiritual sweat to avoid the natural path of sin.  This truth starts as soon as the day starts.  For most people, it takes nothing to sleep in.  For most people, it takes WORK to get out of bed and get going.  If we do what is natural for us, the fruit of that natural tendency will tend to be sinful because laziness is sinful.  If we do what is hard for us, the work of fighting that natural tendency to keep sleeping will tend to be wholesome because being disciplined, diligent and responsible is wholesome.  This choice continues throughout the entire day every day.  It takes no effort to let your eyes wander but that tends to lust.  It takes no effort to let your heart wander but that tends to unforgiveness.  It takes no effort to let your mind wander but that tends to discontentment.  All day, every day, we have to choose to WORK against our natural tendencies if we’re going to create tendencies to morally succeed.  If we put the work in to discipline our eyes, we will tend to be holy.  If we put the work in to discipline our hearts, we will tend to be pure.  If we put the work in to discipline our minds, we will tend to be godly.

While we don’t receive eternal life by any work of our own, we do experience the abundant life by embracing the work of the Lord in our lives.  Paul told the Philippians believers, “that He which hath begun a good WORK in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6).  He went on to instruct them to WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12).  The righteous are righteous because they choose to pick up the spiritual shovel and get to work.  The wicked are wicked because they choose to do what comes spiritually easy.  The Christian life is a life of spiritual sweat.  2 Timothy 2:15, “STUDY to shew thyself approved unto God, a WORKMAN that needeth not to be ashamed.

Good tendencies in life come from choosing to spiritually work hard while evil tendencies in life come from choosing to do what’s spiritually easy.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, ALWAYS abounding in the WORK of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your LABOUR is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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