‘Ability Is Of Little Account Without Opportunity’
‘He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame. Proverbs 10:5’
Opportunity is a blessing – a gift from God. Not everyone has equal opportunity for gain or benefit. Each year will not provide the same degree or kind of opportunity as another year. When wise men see an opportunity, they aggressively and diligently exploit it for profit and honor. Foolish men miss it or squander it to their own poverty and shame.
If God does not provide opportunities for the exercise of your strength or wit, it will go wasted. But when God by providence provides a situation to gather and increase, even those deficient in either or both strength and wit can improve their situation. Napoleon agreed with Solomon when he said that ability is of little account without opportunity.
Wise men see a door of opportunity and rush through it with passionate zeal – they are gripped by the potential of extraordinary advantage or gain. Foolish men miss the door, or presume it will always be there, and head for home with lazy steps – they would rather play or sleep. Opportunities are usually not totally lost; others will take those you miss.
The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looks like Hard Work. Such is the son in this proverb, who dislikes the labor of gathering in a harvest and instead prefers sleep while others work. He does this in spite of the fact that farming has its great payday at harvest.
Opportunity is not guaranteed. Life is a changing scene of prosperity and difficulty. The agricultural cycle of Solomon’s time had great opportunity during summer harvest. Wise men gladly gathered all they could with extra effort and time. Foolish men dreaded the extra demands and could not see the reward, so they minimized time in the hot fields.
King Solomon also wrote, “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away” (Ec 3:6). His wisdom here is known by different idioms in several languages. Have you heard, “The wise know when to get, and fools always lose!”? Have you heard, “If you snooze, you lose!”? Have you heard, “Making hay while the sun shines”?
When times are good, gather all you can and save some for leaner times to come. God sends adversity and prosperity, but the proverb teaches you how to handle both. Business cycles, prosperity, depression, and promotion are God’s work (Eccl 7:14). Diligently accumulate much when it is easy, and you will have extra to fall back on when it is hard. You cannot boast of tomorrow, so you must provide for it today (Pr 22:3; 27:1,23-24).
In this part of Proverbs, Solomon gave his son rules for success (Pr 10:1), and he began with financial rules. He taught righteousness in business (Pr 10:2), providence in business (Pr 10:3), and diligence in business (Pr 10:4). The rule here is prudence in business – to diligently use opportunities to accumulate, for a lazy neglect of opportunities will bring poverty. Even ants know to work hard and save in the summer (Pr 6:6-11; 30:25).
How about the opportunity of preparing to stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords? If you understand the reality of this approaching event, you have been given a blessed opportunity. You will soon pass out of this bustling world through the darkness of death into the light of His glorious Presence. You should, like the unjust steward, be laying up a good foundation against that time to come (Luke 16:1-15; I Tim 6:17-19).