Greener Grass?

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)

I’ve always assumed this Proverb was about hard work. A quick flyover takeaway is simple: Work hard. Stop fantasizing. Do the work. Don’t daydream.

True, the inspired author of Proverbs did mean hard work is essential and wise. But that’s not all this word of wisdom is teaching us. In fact, it may not even be the main point of the Proverb. Look a little closer with me. . .

Notice carefully what he says: “Those who work their land. . . ” (emphasis mine)

Not someone else’s. Not their neighbors. Not another plot over the hill. Not a spot where the soil is rich and grass a lush green. THEIR land. The land they find themselves on. The land they have purchased or inherited or been given. God knows the land they have. God knows the land they have ended up with. Work it. That land. Your land.

A clue that this is what the author intended is in the second phrase: “. . . those who chase fantasies have no sense.” (emphasis mine)

What do you do when you don’t like your land? You fantasize about someone else’s land. You are always trying to figure out how to get a better piece of land to farm. You don’t work hard to figure out yours; you “work” hard (fantasize) about how to get a different one. It’s falling into the trap of believing the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. You think that if you just had another piece of land life would be better.

Now notice what the author says a person gets when he/she focuses on their own land: “abundant food.” (emphasis mine)

What’s the goal of having a piece of land (I am thinking from an agricultural mindset here)? To farm it, nurture it, work it . . . for a good crop of food. The ultimate goal? To have abundant food.

Think about that. Wisdom says if you work your own land – the land you currently have – you will have, not just food, but abundant food. You will get, in other words, what you are fantasizing about. The author of Proverbs wants his readers to understand that if you put all of your fantasizing brain power into figuring out how to work your own land, you will get what you are actually desiring in your dreaming. What a farmer works for is abundant food. Longing for a different plot of land gets nothing. Working hard to figure out how to get your own land to produce will yield exactly what you long for.

What does this mean for us? The implications are endless.

  • Do you fantasize about another job? Did God give you the one you have? What if you gave everything you had to what is yours right now?
  • Do you fantasize about another spouse? Why? Too lazy to work on your marriage now? Could what you long for be on the other side of some hard work with what you have been given?
  • Do you fantasize about another family? Why? Did God mess up? Or, is God perhaps growing you in the hard work of your current situation?
  • Do you dream about having another body? Why? Do you wish you were wired like “so and so”? Why?
  • What do you not like about your current situation (your own piece of land)? Why? Think another may be better? Doubt God’s provision? Could He be leading you to growth and abundant food?

This Proverb is definitely about hard work. But take a closer look. Wanting a different situation you have been given is senseless. It gets you nowhere. Besides, the land you currently have will produce abundant food. It is just on the other side of accepting what you have, being grateful, working hard to figure out how to make it work, and executing it on what is yours.

So get to work. There’s green grass where you’re standing.