In my Bible reading the other day, I came across Proverbs 14:23 – “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.”
Sometimes in language school (and in life!) it feels as if we’re working hard… for no profit. We’re staying up late, submitting assignments daily, speaking in broken French… all for naught. We are toddlers again, learning to string sounds and syllables together to form comprehensible words and sentences.
We are Hudson, saying, “Hear it? Train!” and praying he gets his point across.
“Yes, Hudson, we hear the train!” we dutifully respond, affirming what he is saying and his ability to say it with gusto.
We are working hard. We are buckling down with a French dictionary in one hand and a giant notebook in the other. We are sipping coffee while conjugating verbs and practicing passé composé. We’re making ourselves speak French together whenever we can and we’re rejoicing over every. single. passing. grade.
But sometimes the profit appears to be lacking.
We put the negating phrase << ne… pas >> around the wrong verb; we use the wrong helping verb with the past participle; and once again, we forget to make accords for gender and number. We use punctuation incorrectly and are marked down for it, even though we’ve never learned the French punctuation to begin with! Zoom classes are interrupted by poor connections, and then the Dictée we’re writing has more errors than we’d like to admit. And yes, we just pronounced all of the letters in that word, forgetting that one-third of them should be silent.
“Profit? What profit?!” we want to scream in French, expect we don’t know how yet. Le profit? Le profiteur? Je ne sais pas.
And then we remember:
Profit doesn’t always mean money.
And in fact, in God’s kingdom, I think it rarely means money. God is more concerned with our nature and how much we look like Him. So the profit we gain is most often in the realm of our character: that is, the Spirit developing those fruit in us we read about in Galatians 5.22-23:
Peace. Joy. Patience. And added to all of those, humility, perseverance, dedication.
Piece by piece, God is chipping away at our “can do” attitude and replacing it with a serious case of dependency on Him as we lean into the hard work of learning a language and see a profit we weren’t quite expecting.
God promises a profit.
It may not be the profit we want, but it is certainly the profit we need.