Proverbs 13:4

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


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Hard work works! But the sluggard will not do it! He hates hard work and perseverance. They are painful to him. He loves to sleep; he wants to take today off. The diligent man, working hard each day, enjoys the prosperity and plenty the sluggard covets and misses.

Lazy people want stuff. They envy and resent the assets of workers. They have many excuses why others have more than they have (Pr 20:4; 22:13; 26:16). They will not put in the work to get things. Instead, they whine about discrimination, luck, favoritism, etc.

They covet much, but they cannot get their lazy backsides out of bed to get those things (Pr 6:6-11). They will not even unfold their arms to put food in their mouths (Pr 19:24; 26:15). Work frustrates them, and they cannot figure out simple means of getting ahead (Eccl 10:15). When success falls in their laps, they cannot get it in the bank (Pr 12:27).

They need a bigger house, but they turn down offered overtime. They want a nicer car, but it is more fun to play basketball than take that side job. They want a better marriage, but they are too tired to invest in their spouse. They are sick of the rebellious children of this generation, but they do not have the energy to train their own tonight. They want to know the Bible better, but the thought of thirty minutes of study overwhelms their minds.

A sluggard is a lazy person. A sluggard goes to bed late, uses the snooze button, sleeps in late, is grouchy until noon, complains about his job, dresses sloppily, arrives late, moves slowly, slouches, is often still with hands in pockets or arms folded, would rather talk than work, takes frequent breaks, complains about difficult tasks, stands around unless forced to action, never asks for the next assignment, looks for shortcuts, leaves early, makes fun of hard workers, and is always talking about his last or next vacation.

A diligent man is the opposite. He loves hard work and stays until the job is finished. He goes to bed early, jumps up early, smiles in the morning, is excited about his job, dresses neatly, arrives early, walks briskly, stands erect, is never still, hates small talk, always asks for the next assignment, does every job properly, stays late, ridicules sluggards, commends hard workers, asks for overtime, and considers vacations necessary evils.

Diligence works. The diligent man rises out of the swamp of losers to the top of the class (Pr 22:29). He becomes a ruler (Pr 12:24). He gets rich (Pr 10:4). He has many possessions (Pr 21:5). God and men reward the man who works hard; in a generation of lazy workers, the difference will be more visible and the distinguishing rewards greater.

How are sluggards cured? Starve them! A man’s desire to work rises as his belly button nears his backbone. Solomon knew this (Pr 16:26). Financial help is only right where acts of God make it justifiable, because sluggards should be punished (Pr 20:4; II Thess 3:10). Welfare creates sluggards; it does not cure or help them, for it rewards those hating work.

How are sluggards cured? Keep them away from “a business opportunity”! Sluggards dream and talk about fairy tales rather than plow the back forty – dreams keep them from real work. But farming, a dirty and boring job like many, is exactly how to have plenty (Pr 12:11; 14:23; 28:19). Every minute spent listening to “a super-fantastic business proposal” wastes precious time and keeps men from being productive. Go to the field and plow; you will be far ahead of the person dreaming and listening to business ideas.

Such a warning about slothfulness is not just Old Testament doctrine. The apostle Paul wrote, “Not slothful in business” (Rom 12:11). He also taught that working hard with your own hands in a good job would provide all you need (I Thess 4:11-12; Eph 4:28). And he taught like Solomon that starvation is the best cure for sluggards (II Thess 3:10).

Hard work is its own reward. Are these the words of a fool? Only fools think so. These words are from Solomon’s exhortation, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Eccl 9:10). A bad thing about dying is you have to stop working.

Diligence applies to your whole life. The diligent spouse, who works hard at keeping God’s marital commandments, will have a prosperous marriage. The diligent parent, who works hard at child training, will have happy and wise children. The Christian that diligently bears spiritual fruit will have total assurance of their eternal life (II Pet 1:5-11).

Ministers must work hard. It is a horrible shame when the ministry is referred to as one of the non-profit professions. The ministers of Jesus Christ, like the apostle Paul, should outwork every other profession (II Tim 2:3-4; I Tim 4:13-16). Part of the blame for the present famine of the word of God is due to lazy oxen (Amos 8:11-12; II Tim 2:15).

You have a great opportunity today. Work harder than anyone else at your place of employment. Are you a housewife? Work harder than any wife you know. You will obtain everything you need; you will be happy and content in the effort; and you will be a shining example of Christianity in this lazy and slothful generation.

Paul worked harder than any other apostle, and he knew it (I Cor 15:10). The blessed Lord had little time for leisure (Mark 6:31). The Lord will reward you (and so will men), and you will adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour beautifully (I Tim 6:1; Tit 2:9-10).