THE WISE MAN'S VINEYARD.
Many years ago a very wise man (who also happened to be a farmer), lay on his bed. He knew that he would soon die, so he called his three sons to his bedside.
"My sons," he said, "I will soon die, and I must tell you something." He paused. All three sons craned forward to listen. "Deep in the soil of my vineyard," the wise father whispered, "lies buried a hidden treasure. Dig deep, my sons, and you will find it."
Within a few hours the father died, and the sons took picks and shovels out to their father's vineyard.
"Just imagine what it will be like when we have the treasure!" they told each other. "We can buy whatever we want without working for it and live the rest of our lives in luxury and idleness."
So they began to tear into the soil beneath the farmer's vines. Over and over they turned the soil, digging and digging day after day. But they found no treasure. Finally, they grew disappointed and gave up their search. But the vines, after the sons of the wise farmer had turned the soil so thoroughly, produced so many grapes that the brothers became the wealthy owners of that country's most productive vineyard.
That tale, from Aesop's collection of fables, illustrates today's Bible reading: "I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one lacking sense. I saw that it was overgrown with thorns. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber" (Proverbs 24:30-34).
The sons of that wise farmer learned that treasure was, indeed, hidden in the soil of the vineyard-but it took work to produce that treasure. They also learned that good, hard work produces wealth, not only in money but in character and in satisfaction. You may dream, like those brothers, of "striking it rich" someday and "having it made," but it's far better to work for what you have, to produce treasure instead of discovering it.
REFLECT: Do you think the old farmer was wise in what he said to his sons? Why or why not? Do you think they would have been better off if they had found a chest of buried treasure? Why or why not? According to the paragraphs above, what kinds of wealth does good, hard work produce?
PRAY: "Lord, like almost everybody else, I do have dreams of 'striking it rich' and 'having it made' someday. Help me to see the wisdom in knowing how to work hard and how to produce treasure instead of just discovering it."