Proverbs 16:26

Motivation to Work

26a He that laboureth laboureth for himself…

1. “He that”

a. Nephesh: translated: most often = soul; life; creature; lust; person; mind; heart.

b. Hebrew Lexicon: living being, life, self, person, desire, appetite, emotion, and passion.

c. Strong’s defines it as: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.

d. Zodhiates: noun meaning breath, the inner being with its thoughts and emotions.

e. It is used 753 times in the Old Testament and has a broad range of meanings.

f. It refers to the inner creature life…

g. Ecc. 6:7 – here it is translated “appetite.”

h. Ecc. 6:9 – here it is translated “desire.”

i. This seems to be the sense in which it is used in Prov. 16:26 – a desire, an appetite, an inner craving for something…

2. Laboureth

a. Strong’s: labourer; sufferer; wretched one; toil.

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang. = miserable person; oppression; workman.

c. It implies a weariness from the labor (cf. Ecc. 2:18,22)

d. This term for work emphasizes the drudgery of toil rather than the nobility of labor.

e. One dictionary described this word as the dark side of labor, the grievous and unfulfilling aspect of work.

f. Ps 90:10 – used of the labor of old age…

g. This term appears twice in this proverb in two forms: “he that laboureth” (noun form) and “laboureth” (verb form)

h. Thus, Solomon doubly emphasizes this concept of toilsome work, drudgery, the weariness of labor…

3. Solomon’s point is that in order to STICK WITH a job (or a ministry!), there must be an inner craving… an inner passion…

a. The dark side of labor discourages and would cause someone to quit.

b. But in order to keep on plowing through the drudgery of it all, there must be an inner passion… an inner craving… an inner drive and desire… fire in the belly!

4. There are MANY inner passions that motivate a man to work every day at the office or factory and to stick with it.

a. A desire to see the company succeed.

b. A desire to pay one’s bills.

c. A desire to feed one’s family.

d. A desire to put a son or daughter through school.

e. A desire to buy a nice house.

f. A strong belief in the product. (vitamins; financial planner; builder)

g. A strong belief in the cause. (Red Cross; medical researcher; teacher)

5. There are inner passions that motivate men and women to work around their own home.

a. Why go through all the tedious labor of upkeep on one’s house?

b. Why would a man go through all the trouble of scrapping the old chipped paint and paint his house? An inner desire to preserve the wood to last longer… for it to look good… to be a good testimony in the neighborhood.

c. Why would any woman wash the floor and vacuum day after day? A desire for a clean house for her family!

d. Why water, fertilize, lime, rake, aerate, and mow your lawn… when you know the grass is going to grow right back in a few days? Why repeat that process all summer long? Because of an inner desire for your house to look good… so it looks cared for… and a desire NOT to be like the man who dwells in the field of the slothful. (Prov. 24:30-32)

6. And what about the laborious job of taking care of our bodies?

a. Why would anyone go through all the hard work of lifting weights?

b. Why would anyone go through the drudgery of watching what they eat? Or go on an oppressive diet?

c. Why would anyone jog for miles every day?

d. Why would anyone go to a gym and go through all those monotonous, toilsome routines week after week?

e. Some folks begin to take care of their bodies and then quit.

f. Solomon states that it takes an inner drive of creature life… a passion… a craving to accomplish a goal.

g. There is an inner appetite that drives a man or woman to persevere and endure through the drudgery and weariness of the toils of life…

h. Without that inner appetite, we would quit… become lazy… become a recluse… give up on life… give up on our goals… give up on work!

i. Some folks don’t have that drive. They just “give up” on trying… give up on taking care of their homes, their bodies, their careers, their families…

7. Consider this principle for students…

a. There is much labor in studying…

b. Ecc. 12:12 – much study is a weariness of the flesh.

c. For a student to do well and to persevere in his studies, that inner drive… inner hunger… inner craving for the benefits of learning must be present.

d. As in many things in life, education is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.

e. Doing well in school as in any type of work requires an inner drive.

f. That could be many things for different students: a hunger for learning; a craving for books; a striving to succeed in life; a drive for the monetary rewards, motivated by a cause or lofty goal; a drive to stretch oneself and to achieve; ambition; an inner drive to make something of yourself;

g. All kinds of inner appetite drive people. Some are good and some are not.

8. He laboureth for HIMSELF.

a. Solomon does not mean this in a bad sense (selfish).

b. Rather, he means that he wisely realizes (in the midst of all that toil) that there is something that is BENEFICIAL for himself.

c. He that labors, labors for himself. He that sows shall reap the fruit of his labors for himself.

d. An inner drive keeps him going… keeps him working… enables him to endure the suffering, the weariness, the pain, the difficulties… because he sees the value of a greater, long range benefit for himself… and perhaps his family… or his company… or perhaps for society.

e. That inner drive urges him on to do that which otherwise would be avoided as undesirable.

f. An inner appetite… a craving for a benefit of one sort or another… will DRIVE a man to endure difficulties… toilsome labor… and menial tasks… for HIMSELF… for the good of himself…

9. Solomon is speaking about diligence and the motivation that drives a man to BE diligent in his work.

a. The motivated man will do well.

b. The motivated man labors for himself and receives the BENEFIT of his labors… as tedious, monotonous, tiring, mundane, and toilsome as they might be!

c. Prov.14:23 – In all labour there is profit…

d. The laborer benefits from it.

e. And it is that inner drive that keeps the laborer laboring… and enables him to receive that benefit for himself.

10. The same is true in the spiritual realm.

a. Jesus said: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

b. It is a HUNGER for righteousness that results in benefiting from righteousness.

c. It is the hungry heart that is fed.

d. An inner craving for God and spiritual things is what keeps a believer going… serving… walking… running the race with patience!

e. A genuine hunger for God keeps us from hungering after other things… a hunger for the wheat keeps us from hungering for the chaff…

f. Paul expressed his hunger for Christ when he wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection!”

g. An inner hunger… craving after the Word, after a deeper relationship to Christ, after the knowledge of God, results in a great benefit for the believer!

h. It MOTIVATES us to continue running with patience… even in the face of trials and trouble… it drives us to the throne of grace for mercy in time of need…

i. This inner drive and hunger for spiritual things drives believers to be faithful to the local church… faithful in reading the Word of God… faithful in their family devotion time… it drives us to CHRIST!

j. That inner creature drive… an inner hunger is a MUST in the Christian life.

k. Without that spiritual fire in the belly, (hunger; zeal; life) we become cold hearted…

l. KEEP YOUR HEART with all diligence! Pay attention to that hunger and fire. When the embers begin to cool down, stir them up again!

26b For his mouth craveth it of him.

1. His mouths CRAVES it…

2. Craves:

a. Strong’s: press; urge.

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: drive, impel, press hard, i.e., get high motivation to do something, and so desire something based on a physical need.

3. The craving of the mouth here is ONE particular type of craving among many cravings.

a. It is singled out because it is the most common inner craving… one we can all relate to.

b. Hunger is a clear example of that inner creature life.

c. We get hungry three times a day, if we are healthy.

d. One of the things that motivates a man to work is physical HUNGER… an appetite for food!

e. What drives a coal miner to work underground in dangerous conditions all day long? A desire to eat and feed his family!

f. Hunger is a powerful motivator; it motivates us to work.
• Reaping (and eating the fruit) is a great motivator to get busy and sow.
• Ecc. 6:7 – “all the labor of man is for his mouth; and yet the appetite is not filled.” (the man works for his mouth—to feed his mouth… and it goes on and on because we keep on getting hungry!)

g. The fruit of our labors motivates us to put up with, endure, and to persevere through all the unpleasantness, the rigors, the laborious, tedious tasks of everyday work.

h. II Thess. 3:10 – if a man will not work, neither should he eat!

i. Providing free food for poor people may seem generous and kind, and it IS initially.
• But when it continues (like our welfare system) it removes the motivation to work!
• If a man is hungry, that hunger will motivate him to get a job… even a hard job… even doing menial tasks.
• But if the government gives him free housing and free food, the incentive is gone!
• Parents who continue to bail their grown children out of financial holes their kids have dug for themselves do them no favor! They learn to become dependent upon your generosity… and they lose the incentive to be diligent.

4. And in the spiritual realm, the same is true.

a. Nothing motivates a believer to be diligent in his walk with God more than fruit… seeing God produce good fruit in your life as you yield to Him!

b. The fruit of getting to KNOW Christ motivates us to hunger to know Him more and more!

c. The benefit of God’s Word working in our lives motivates us to study the Word more diligently!

d. The benefit of answered prayer motivates us to pray without ceasing!

e. Christ, prayer, and the Word of God create an appetite for MORE!

f. And that inner hunger is good. It enables us to endure… and we benefit greatly from enduring!