Diligence In The Proverbs

Diligence is an old-fashioned word for an old-fashioned concept. Its definition varies slightly throughout the Scriptures, but one truth remains the same: diligent people don't just happen. It is a characteristic that is practiced and cultivated over time.

As we'll see in the Bible verses to follow, God is very serious about us working for Him with all our hearts. If we're careless or lazy in our endeavors, we will have to live with the consequences. But if we're dedicated to whatever the task is before us, we'll receive the Lord's blessings over and over again.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. Proverbs 10:4

Honor and riches, success and wisdom aren't waiting on the surface of the ground to be discovered. These blessings have to be dug for and mined for with eager determination. The hand of the diligent doesn't mind the extra work because there is something special and valuable to be found. Whatever this person finds to do will be done with all their might. It's easy for them to give it all they have because their joy comes from serving the Lord.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, poverty and disgrace will suffocate those who refuse to do a hard day's work. These lightweights are careless, unconcerned and unfeeling when it comes to their given duties. They will only have themselves to blame when the job goes undone and there is nothing saved up for lean times.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. Proverbs 12:24

The diligent person has a sharp, keen mind that understands the rewards come when they are industrious and mindful of their own business. They will put their back into their work and look forward to the rewards they will receive. Their focus is on providing whatever is necessary for their family, and will climb to the top of the social ladder, though that is not the goal. They simply want to be a positive Christian influence in their daily lives.

This is the exact opposite of the slothful. Instead of striving to work as unto the Lord, they would rather do only what is necessary when the moment requires it. Their reputation suffers, their family suffers and eventually they will suffer themselves in body, mind and heart. Instead of being faithful to God and man, they end up being pinned under the foot of authority.

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious. Proverbs 12:27

Picture the slothful man waltzing back into the camp and throwing his animals down by the fire, then walking away. Hunting was the fun part - being out in the woods, stalking and trapping - but cleaning and preparing the kill is hard work. There must be better things to do while someone else does the labor-intensive tasks. If it was up to him, dinner would just appear on the table while he did something more entertaining.

The diligent man is like night and day in comparison. The animals he killed in the hunt are precious game to him because he prayed that the Lord would bless him with skill and success. God's answered prayer makes each and every animal precious, and the hunter wants to care for them himself so he knows they will be cleaned correctly and efficiently. He is grateful to the Lord that he is able to feed his family himself without living off other people's labor.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. Proverbs 13:4

Flip through a store catalog or watch the commercials on television and you'll understand what it's like to desire. We would love to have the newest, biggest, most shiny stuff, but we're not blessed with wealth in abundance. The soul of the sluggard desires everything he sees, but he's not willing to do the work to make the money to buy the things. This is why he ends up with nothing in the end.

The soul of the diligent, though, has a different motivation. He would rather have his appetite motivated by pleasing the Lord than pleasing his flesh. Fat and flourishing only describes the man whose happiness comes from the rich blessings of God Himself. Abundance and enjoyment come from seeing the fruits of a diligent life.

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. Proverbs 21:5

Those of us who love to plan and organize will relate to the diligent man here. His thoughts are only about how to provide for his family while serving and honoring God. Careful planning is necessary to make sure every step is being taken to give, save and multiply what is useful. Then when that rainy day comes, there is no panic or fear because they have already stockpiled everything they need.

Hasty here means to be hurried toward. The opposite of a planner is someone who just hurries on to the end, hoping for the best. Without the fruit grown from hard work and diligence, there will be no reward at the end of the growing season. They refuse to do the work that brings about the advantages and opportunities, so they also forfeit the rewards and benefits.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. Proverbs 22:29

We all know business people who do their jobs with their whole heart because they are working for God. These are the people who have strong, positive reputations because they are not only fair in their transactions, but are also dedicated to what they do and how they do it. Much like the Proverbs 31 woman, these people are scarce and valuable. When they love their business, they are actively working to better themselves, their families and their communities. They become skillful and knowledgeable in everything that relates to their chosen field, and they are promoted to high places because of it.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. Proverbs 27:23

Regardless of what business, field or workplace we are in, we are called to apply ourselves to it completely. Our job requires our knowledge of how to do our job, how we need to improve ourselves to do the best job possible and how our work ethic influences other people. We need to keep our eyes and minds fixed on our own flocks and our own herds, as this proverb describes it. If we're meddling in other fields, our own field will suffer. We should be familiar with every detail of our business, inspecting them with our own eyes and letting no opportunity slip by. Quality goods come from quality work, and this begins with knowing the state of things. Our heart's desire should be doing the best job we can because it reflects on the God we serve and the family we love.


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