Solomon gives us more pairings of
wisdom: wise and foolish, rich and poor,
man and woman, upright and devious, pride and prudence and some mixing and
matching with the personification and the dichotomous qualities. Let’s jump to verse
All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
I have or had a cousin who talked
big. He was always going to conquer the
word with his next endeavor, if he ever got around to it.
His parents had both died while he was
in his late 30’s. He shacked up with a
woman who could support him, at least they could afford some sort of shack. It
often had no water or electricity, but they lived indoors.
The extended family—mostly my
aunt—took care of unexpected expenses and offered him work so he could have
some money that he could call his own. He wasn’t much interested in labor.
He was going to be long-haul truck
driver. You need a CDL to do this but he
never got around to that part. He could, however, talk your ear off about how
he was going to make it big hauling those loads cross country—big loads and big
We wouldn’t hear from him for a while,
then he would call and he was on to something else. Underwater welding was one that he could talk
about for an hour without taking a breath.
He could neither weld nor was he SCUBA qualified, but this was the thing
that would give him his big break.
Then he was going to be a pastor, and
then something else, and then something else.
A few years ago, one of the local
television stations and the Oklahoman did a short piece on him as a homeless
Marine veteran. He had been a sniper in
Desert Storm and done 20 years as a Marine.
He couldn’t tell you what units he was in or how he could be homeless
after 20 years of service, but the journalist set up a Go Fund Me account for
this homeless vet.
He never spent a single minute in the service
of his country. The closest he ever got
to military service was getting a military field jacket from the Salvation
Army, but found that he could talk some of the talk.
He could spin that yarn so long as
people didn’t check his facts. He was
more than willing to tell whatever tale people wanted to hear. Facts only got in the way of the story.
I’m not sure if it bothered me more
that he was claiming to be a pastor, a combat veteran, or that people believed
the latter enough to send a few hundred dollars to help him.
I have no reservation about helping
the poor. I do not like to see people
being scammed, especially by someone pretending to be a Marine.
He had received plenty of help from
his family over the years, but he had claimed the reward that Solomon promised
for mere talk—poverty.
Work brings profit. Mere talk brings poverty.
I don’t know where he is now if he is
still alive. He could never hold a real
job for long. His talk about becoming an
underwater welder or a pastor or driving a big rig didn’t fool anyone other
Our extended family has a young gal
who works frequently with the OKC homeless alliance. She keeps her eye out for him, but we have
not heard from him in years.
He probably doesn’t want to here from
us. We always bring up that 4-letter
He talked his way into poverty and
wouldn’t listen to anyone who would help him step out of it.
Let’s look at the other side of the
coin. Hard work brings profit. I will read to you a short portion of one of
the shortest books ever—A
Message to Garcia by Elbert
In all this Cuban business there is
one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain & the
United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of
the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba--no one
knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must
secure his cooperation, and quickly.
What to do!
Someone said to the President,
"There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if
Rowan was sent for and given a letter
to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took
the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in
four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared
into the jungle, & in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island,
having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia,
are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.
The point I wish to make is this:
McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter
and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man
whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every
college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction
about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to
be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing-
"Carry a message to Garcia!"
My children have read this book many
times. It will take you about 10 minutes
and is a worthwhile investment.
At one point, all Marines were
required to read this book. I hope they
It talks about the one who just does
the thing—whatever it is—with purpose and passion and without looking for the
first excuse to wimp out.
There is value in work. There is profit in work. Work is good.
To which many of you say, Duh! That’s obvious.
No, it’s not obvious. It’s obvious to you because you have realized
this paradigm. You navigate within this
framework. You expect to work in order
to make it through this world and provide for your families.
You receive satisfaction in work.
Some have no such expectations. Some
expect that they will be cared for and all their needs met. I am not talking about those who cannot work
but those who will not work.
Solomon tells us they are headed for
poverty. If all you can do is talk, there are few jobs to be had and the jobs
where they pay you to talk usually require some life experience that involved
Yes, there are people who get paid to
talk—football commentators, talk show hosts, and preachers. In my defense, preachers also have to know
how to listen because people are compelled to tell me which toilets are broken
and when we run out of paper towels.
Solomon is talking about idle
words. Words that take you nowhere. Some words inspire or instruct but those that
only consume the time lead to poverty.
Some people are good at talking and
can get a job where what they do involves a lot of talking. Good for them. They found a livelihood that they enjoy.
I spoke to a young girl in Walmart who
was pushing around one of those carts with 10 or 12 bins on it. This whole pandemic thing has made a real
market for letting the store do your shopping and you just pay and pick up.
I said to this young lady, “Did you
ever think that you could find a job shopping?”
She said, “No but this is great!”
Sometimes we find just what we want to
do and it doesn’t feel like work. Some
find jobs talking too, but Solomon is talking about talk without purpose or
production—talk that produces no fruit.
He is talking about words that take
you nowhere, well, except down the road to poverty.
Solomon is talking about substituting
talk for action. Sometimes talk precedes action, but sometimes people just get
addicted to talking and never take action.
They talk instead of work and Solomon says they are headed for poverty.
Much like my cousin who had great
aspirations but never took one step forward to achieve them, we have many in
this nation who will never get around to it.
We have many who will talk their way into poverty.
For some, talk is action. There are those gifted in this area. For
most, talk is an excuse not to act. Talk
is just another excuse.
Work—especially hard work—brings a
profit. It’s worthwhile, but talk in
lieu of work leads to poverty.
Solomon presents the destination of
one who says why work why I can make an excuse.
This brings us back to one of my
favorite quotes that I have shared recently.
A coach can help you with your mistakes, but
nobody can help you with your excuses.
Some say, Work smart not hard. That’s good.
If you can work smart, then you can work hard at working smart and
produce even more than those who just work hard. Whatever you are working at,
work hard at it.
Hard work produces good fruit. Hard work is profitable. Hard work brings satisfaction.
Fifty years ago, we would have spent
two minutes on this proverb and moved on to the next one.
That’s a big 10-4 on that one Solomon.
We get it. We need to work.
You betcha. Hard work brings profit.
Hey wise man, you hit the nail on the
head, but it’s all too obvious. It’s MOTO—Master of the Obvious.
Today, you see this proverb played out
all around you and what once seemed obvious eludes so many in this age.
We could despair at the current
situation or we could see opportunity for the one who will work and work with
purpose and passion. This life still offers good things for the one who will work
hard at what they do.
When I talk with people who are
starting a new job, I tell them to stick it out no matter what for the first
six months. After that, they will be the
old timer. They will be the one with experience
that the boss doesn’t want to let go.
The state of affairs in a world where
people prefer talk to work seems bleak until the one willing to work sees the
opportunity before him. He or she have
great value in an age of do-nothingness.
Let me wrap up A Message to Garcia.
My heart goes out to the man who does
his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And
the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without
asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into
the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid
off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long
anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be
granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is
wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and
factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the
man who can carry a message to Garcia.
10 minutes and read A
Message to Garcia. Stick to your weekly reading of the Proverbs. Know that work has value.