LaughterI mentioned in my previous post that it’s possible to live in such a way that laughs at the future. Just so we’re clear, we’re in “life hack” territory.  We’re talking about what to do with your money, your time, your relationships, your attitudes, and your spirit.

Look at this biblical description:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

What is it about this woman that put her in a place where she wasn’t wringing her hands every time somebody predicted the end of life as we know it?

1.  Establish trust in those who know you best.

“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life” (v. 11-12, NLT).

For years I assumed that her husband trusted her in a moral sense, but this is much deeper.  This man trusted her with his business, his family, and his money.  She had earned his trust.  How?  By adding value to his life.

By doing a little more, being faithful to tasks assigned, or by keeping the trust of those who know you best, you create a compelling future.  Take it from somebody who has both earned and betrayed trust:  it takes months and years to earn trust, and you can destroy it – and your confidence in the future – in a matter of minutes.

2.  Buy like an investor, not like a consumer.

“She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar… She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard” (v. 13-14, 16, NLT).

Check out Seth Godin eyeballing customers at the shoe store.

This woman spent her money and her time looking for value.  She understood that just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal – and just because is in style doesn’t mean she should throw down money for it.

This isn’t just limited to money.  She also invested her time by getting up before daylight.

To shop like an investor, establish value on the “buying” side of things.

3.  Avoid procrastination – Do it now!

“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls… She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes” (v. 15, 21).

Throughout this description, you see someone who made decisions quickly, who got up ahead of her day, and who didn’t wait until it was snowing to make jackets for her kids.

4.  Don’t Eat Your Seeds.

In her book, Stepping Up, Beth Moore tells the story of a trip she and her husband made to Angola.  Her first-hand exposure to poverty and hunger changed her perspective forever.  In one of the rural villages, a guide explained, “One of the most frustrating things is that in villages where they receive seed, they often eat the seed rather than planting it and bring forth the harvest.”

In Proverbs 31 you see the description of someone who understood that not everything was made for consumption.  She took money and bought a field and planted a vineyard.

Take a look at a dollar, or whatever you use at the checkout counter.  Imagine a portion of that as being set aside for “seed money” to plant a future financial harvest.

Take a look at your calendar or to-do list.  Imagine a chunk of that being used every day to create an easier future – to get ahead time-wise.

If you ignore the rest of this, get this:  People who laugh at the future are those who have already visited tomorrow before it gets here.

5.  Invest in your health.

“She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong” (v. 17, NASU).

Hey, this girl did aerobics and resistance training!

Remember those old Fram Oil Filter commercials?  “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”  The same is true for your health.  You will get healthy, one way or another.  You can do it now, and it will cost you some time and a bit of money.  Or you can do it later, with a bunch of tubes hanging out of your body.  Or you can do it by dying way too early.

6.  Establish a life’s work plan – and work it!

You get the picture that this woman knew what her job was, and she did it with gusto.  She had found her niche.  Read through the middle section of this passage, and you won’t find a whole lot that’s sexy or glamorous.  I find it curious that the most common body part mentioned for superwoman here is her hands.  Day in and day out, she is diligent to do that day’s challenges and responsibilities.  Something about the daily grind of faithfulness created a full day today, and an incredibly rich reward in the future.

7.  Practice generosity to the poor and needy.

“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy” (v. 20, NLT).

Right in the middle of all this work and activity, somebody knocks on her door, or interrupts her shopping with a need.  With willingness and joy, this woman gives.

Fair enough.  But what does this have to do with laughing at the future?  Everything!  When you give to the poor, you’re lending to God.  And you’re sowing generosity against a possible need you may have for someone to be generous to you someday.  What does around really does come around.  The recession is here.  Instead of whining about the price of eggs and gasoline, look for somebody you can help.

8.  Establish multiple streams of income/value.

“Divide your merchandise among seven or even eight investments, for you do not know what calamity may happen on earth” (Ecclesiastes 11:2, NET).

My mamma used to tell me to have a fallback plan, since all I ever wanted to do from age 15 was to be a pastor.  At times that sure seemed to lack faith.  But she wasn’t talking about my vocation; she was talking about my vegetables and feeding my family.  Nearly 35 years later, that makes more sense every day.

Why multiple?  So that you still have value or income coming, even if one or two fall by the wayside.  Want to see some multiple streams of income in the Bible?  Go to your local financial planner, show him/her Proverbs 31, and say you want to invest your money in these areas:

  • Trade (owing a business)
  • Income-producing land ownership (real estate)
  • Housing (including utilities, furnishings, etc)
  • Food (including agriculture, livestock, delivery, wholesale, retail, restaurant)
  • Clothing
  • Education (including information delivery)
  • Government/Civic Infrastructure
  • Transportation

The most important step of all – this doesn’t even qualify to be reduced to this list.  It stands alone.  You want to face the future with laughter and confidence?  Fear God.  Worship, love, trust, be in awe of the One who actually holds your future.

Okay, let’s get started laughing.  And share this with somebody who’s doing a bit of fretting.

Tree Newt April 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Andy, you stopped by my place the other day, and I’ve been checking your blog out in my “spare time” since. I write that in quotes, because time is a very precious, and scarce, commodity around my house these days! In light of that, I really need to hear what you had to say today. Great post, and great exposition of Proverbs 31.

Ivy April 25, 2008 at 6:22 am

Stewardship of life seems to dovetail with your exposition of the Proverbs woman. There’s a neat video on another blog. I posted about it on mine as well. Check out “Another Kind of Stewardship.” The url is Peace.

Pat Rex September 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Imagine what the Church and the local church could accomplish by applying these principles to what they do!

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