Proverbs 10:16

The Labor of the Righteous


1. This verse is another version of that familiar principle: you reap what you sow.

2. It looks at it from both the positive and negative angles.

3. It also speaks about the results of each.

16a The labor of the righteous tendeth to life… (positive)

1. The labor of the righteous.

a. This speaks of that for which a righteous man WORKS…

b. Everybody works for something… righteous men and evil men…

c. But there is a difference between that for which righteous and unrighteous men work… even though they may work side by side in the same plant.

2. What a righteous man labors for:

a. He labors for his family.
· It’s a lot of work to bring up a Christian family nowadays.
· The righteous man labors to earn his living… and provide for the needs of his family.
· If a man provides not for his own, he is worse than an infidel… an unbeliever! (I Tim. 5:8)

b. He also labors in the word of God. (I Tim. 5:17)
· It is work to labor in the Word…
· While this is speaking about elders, it is also true that ANY godly man will labor in the Word… to one degree or another.
· A righteous man will lead his family in devotions. That’s labor… a labor of love.

c. He labors in teaching and training his children… (Eph. 6:4)
· That too is a lot of work.
· It is a labor of love for the Lord AND your children.
· It’s easy to slack off in this department… but just remember the principle of the passage: “you reap what you sow.”
· It is labor that pays off.

d. He labors for his local church. (I Cor. 15:58)
· God saved us that we might serve Him.
· A righteous man labors for the Lord in the local church.
· We are to be always ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord. It is not in vain. (Other pursuits in life might prove to be vain at the Bema…)
· It may be in teaching, singing, cleaning… or a 1001 other ways.
· Boy have we seen a lot of righteous men laboring on this building project!
· But all service for God IS work… labor… whatever your ministry might be.
· Solomon describes it as the labor of the righteous.

e. He labors that he might have to give to others. (Eph. 4:28)
· A righteous man labors not just for himself.
· The labors of a righteous man are also to help a brother in need…

f. He labors bringing the gospel to the lost in his community.
· The disciples were called to leave their labors in the fishing industry and labor in another field… bringing the gospel around the world.
· In a sense, we have all been called to that kind of labor.
· A righteous man will labor in bringing others to Christ.

3. The labors of the righteous tendeth to life. (meaning)

a. Gal. 6:8 – sow to the flesh and you will reap corruption. Sow to the Spirit, and you will reap life everlasting.
· This does not mean that you EARN everlasting life by sowing to the Spirit.
· Only a believer can sow to the Spirit. He is writing to folks who already have everlasting life.
· In context, Paul is speaking about money… support for those who teach the Word. (vs. 6)
· His point is that we can use money to satisfy the flesh OR we can use money to support spiritual endeavors.
· We can choose how to spend our money, but once spent, we cannot choose the harvest. That is settled in the original decision.
· The principle is much broader than the immediate context. You reap what you sow. Once you sow your seed, your harvest is determined.

b. The labors of the righteous bring forth fruit that is determined by the sort of labor!
· A righteous man labors in righteous things… his harvest will be good…
· His harvest will tend towards life… and that which aids or supports a good life.
· To be spiritually minded is life and peace. It doesn’t produce life, but it aids our new life… tends towards life… bolsters life…

4. The labors of the righteous tendeth to life.

a. His labors in the home tend to life…
· His labors with his children tend to bring about the salvation of their souls!
· His labors in the home tend to produce an atmosphere where new life can flourish…

b. His labors in the Word tend to life…
· His labors in the Word strengthen his own personal spiritual life…
· His labors in the Word strengthen the spiritual lives of his family…

c. His labors in the local church tend to life…
· His labor in the local church tends to strengthen the spiritual life and vitality of the church.
· His labors for the Lord in the local church tend to build up the spiritual lives of other believers… (Sunday school class; youth group worker; music)
· He may labor with his hands to give to others… give money… give a helping hand…
· A righteous man is generous with his labors… this tends to life—to aid or enhance the lives of others.

d. His labors for the lost tend to life…
· His labors in his own private mission field result in others coming to know Christ and receiving eternal life.
· In every way, the labors of the righteous tend to life.

4. Prov. 11:30 – the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.

a. The labor of the righteous = the fruit of the righteous.

b. Both tend to life… or another way of saying it—is a tree of life… an ongoing source of good fruit…

c. The life of a righteous man is like a tree of life… he keeps on producing works that tend to life… an unending source of spiritual strength, vitality, nourishment, health… that which sustains and the abundant life.

5. Hebrews 6:10 – God remembers your labors for Him.

a. God remembers those who labor in prayer for the saints… though none see.

b. God remembers those who clean the church… season after season…

c. God remembers those who share the gospel with the lost… and don’t blow their own trumpet about it…

d. God remembers those who labor putting up the building…

e. God remembers those who give… those who work with the children…

f. God remembers those who are friendly to visitors… those who encourage and counsel other believers… those who teach the Word… those who practice special music… those who work with the youth…

g. God remembers and rewards the labor of the righteous man. You reap what you sow… in God’s time.

6. John 6:27 – labor not for that meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to eternal life!

a. Everybody is laboring for something. Labor for something worthwhile… that which will endure…

b. The labors of a righteous man tends to life…

16b The fruit of the wicked to sin…

1. Now Solomon speaks of the negative side of the principle—

a. The righteous man is contrasted to the wicked.

b. His labor is contrasted to the wicked man’s sin.

c. Just as the verb was added (note italics) in the first phrase, it needs to be added here to. “The fruit of the wicked tendeth to sin.”

d. “Fruit” = produce or product (not the word for fruit…)
· Solomon is speaking about that which the wicked man produces through his labors: sin!
· The labors of the righteous man result in aiding the abundant life… newness of life…
· The labors of the wicked results in the opposite: sin!
· A corrupt tree produces corrupt fruit; a contaminated well does not produce clean water…

e. The labors of a righteous man produce much good. The labors of a wicked man result in evil… sin…
· Take warning young people—choose your friends carefully.
· Choose righteous friends. That will HELP your spiritual life.
· Choose “unrighteous” friends and that will HURT your spiritual life.
· You reap what you sow.
· Matt. 7:17-18 – Jesus put it this way: good trees produce good fruit. Corrupt trees cannot produce good fruit. Therefore, don’t pick off a corrupt tree!

2. Isaiah 3:10 – Isaiah put it this way: the righteous shall eat the fruit of his own doing… but woe to the wicked. He too shall eat of the fruit of his own doings.

a. Each tendeth to his own end… the righteous to life… and the wicked to sin and death.

b. This principle is inescapable… and has been proven over and over again.

c. And it doesn’t matter how MUCH the labor of the righteous man produces. His “little” is better than the wicked man’s “much.” (Psalm 37:16)

d. Every man will EAT of his own fruit… he will reap what he has sown.

e. Be careful what you sow… use your labors for good…