He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
Poverty or riches, the choice is yours! You will make the choice today, tomorrow, and the next day. The man who applies himself diligently to his profession and other duties will be rich, but the man who is a slacker, or sluggard, will be poor. The choice is yours!
A great temptation for men, especially young men, is laziness about work. Solomon often warned against this error, and here he used synecdoche to represent a man by his hand. He used arm (Pr 31:17), soul (Pr 13:4), or the whole man (Pr 22:29) at other times for the same lesson. Success requires energized focus and persistent effort. Get to work now!
Since the hand is a figure of speech for the whole man, do not be distracted by it, as some do with metaphorical language. However, sluggards like to keep their hands in their pockets or folded against their chests (Pr 19:24), which surely brings their lives to ruin (Eccl 10:18). And it is a fact that wise employers note the handshake of an applicant, for they are fearful of the limp, effeminate, weak handshake of a slothful and/or timid loser.
Working for pay or profit is a privilege and blessing (Eccl 9:10). The godly man attacks daily tasks with zeal and force. If he is consistently diligent, all other things being equal, he will quickly and greatly surpass the man who is lazy, slow, and avoids hard work. This is the law of God and nature, and it is a simple lesson to teach children. Diligent work brings financial reward, and it can bring its own emotional reward in a job well done.
A slack hand represents the man who lacks energy or diligence, is inclined to be lazy or idle, remiss, careless, or negligent or lax in regard to his duties. A slacker is a slack person, who shirks work or avoids exertion. This kind of person puts off work as long as he can; he resents real labor; he hates tasks requiring focus and effort. He is a lazy loser.
The slacker always has conceited excuses for his laziness; he will reject sound reasons from even seven men who warn him (Pr 26:16). He has an evil disease – laziness – and will not listen to wisdom. Dear reader, crush your thoughts and believe the proverb! Solomon learned more in a day than you will learn in a lifetime, and he wrote by the inspiration of the omniscient God, Who knows all things. Hard work wins! Get to work!
What are the slacker’s excuses? He loves sleep (Pr 20:13), which ruins men and women and brings poverty (Pr 6:6-11; 24:30-34). He loves folding lazy hands and huddling under covers in the morning. He loves the snooze button on the alarm. He loves turning back and forth in bed like a door on hinges (Pr 26:14). He hates mornings. He is too foolish and addicted to sleep to realize that extra sleep can make him sleepier (Pr 19:15).
He fears and resents adversity or difficulty (Pr 20:4). He will not plow by reason of the cold. He is always looking for a “snow day” to take the day off. Instead of putting on a coat and working anyway, he loves any excuse to stay home or avoid a difficult job. The blessed God will put extra thorns in his way to teach him or tear him (Pr 15:19; 22:5).
He is intimidated by challenges (Pr 22:13; 26:13). He imagines a lion in the way. His favorite words are, “I can’t do it,” and, “It won’t work.” Long-term business or career plans are overwhelming. He wants something easier; he wants success that will fall in his lap. So instead of tackling the challenge, he does nothing (Pr 26:14-15). But ever since Adam chose hard labor instead of dressing the Garden, there is no easy alternative.
He resents authority and being told what to do by another (Pr 19:10; 27:18; 30:22). This socialist thinks a tribe of all chiefs, or all Indians, would work well. He does not want to be an Indian under a chief. He likes to work for himself. His rebellion keeps him from seeing that all chiefs were once hard-working Indians (Pr 17:2; 22:29).
He is seduced by vain ideas of easier and more exciting ways to make money (Pr 12:11; 28:19). He associates with the discontented and listens to schemes on how they will beat the system (Pr 14:23; 21:5). He is always busy planning his future success. He believes he has figured out life better than Solomon and seven successful men (Pr 26:16).
The diligent man laughs at slackers and mocks their five excuses, goes to work early every single day, and attacks his job with energy and persistence. He knows that life is short; he knows that God made him to work; he looks forward to getting his diligent hands on a project; and he will do it with his might (Eccl 9:10). He will soon rule over the slacker in riches and honor (Pr 12:24; 13:4; 22:29). Guaranteed!
Nothing has changed in 3000 years since Solomon penned these words. And nothing has changed in 2000 years, since Paul wrote his own warnings against slackers (Rom 12:11; I Thes 4:11-12; II Thes 3:6-13). Diligent labor is the law of God and the law of success. It must be taught faithfully and strongly, for the excuses of slackers have not diminished. Parents must train children to work hard and to hate and repudiate the slacker’s excuses.
There are many other excuses that lazy souls use, such as discrimination for age, creed, race, or sex, such as lack of education, lack of intelligence, lack of friends higher in the organization, etc. But the wisest man that ever lived taught here and in other places that hard work will make up for any of these perceived disadvantages (Pr 14:35; 17:2; 22:29).
If you put the fear and love of God first in your life and then work diligently on the job as you should, you will be honored and compensated. Guaranteed! Joseph prospered in Egypt, though having the wrong nationality, a despised business background, and starting as a chained slave. Daniel prospered for 70 years near the top of the Babylonian Empire though of a despised race, enemy nation, hated religion, and starting out as a eunuch!
Christians should be the most diligent workers in any company or on any job. The world should see a living example of focused energy, intense persistence, and cheerful zeal to do anything necessary to finish even unpleasant tasks. Christians should never consider the excuses of the slacker, as they are contrary to sound doctrine (Eph 6:5-8; Tit 2:9-10).
The blessed Lord Christ was exceptionally diligent (Mark 3:20-21; 6:31; John 4:34; 9:4). And the apostles followed His great example (I Cor 4:9-14; II Thess 3:8). In fact, beloved brother Paul boasted in the grace of God that he labored more abundantly than all the other apostles (I Cor 15:10). There are many duties and privileges of service in the New Testament for you. Can you, reader, boast of diligent use of God’s grace in doing them?