Summary: The words diligence and industry do not carry as positive a connotation in our society as they once did. But the Bible exalts those that work over the "leisure-holics," and those who work with diligence over those who work with negligence.
PROVERBS 10: 1-5
A GOOD WORD FOR THE DILIGENT
The subscription stated as "The Proverbs of Solomon" informs us that we have come to a new portion of the book. The first nine chapters have set forth beautifully in what has been mainly connected discourse concerning the nature and value of heavenly wisdom in contrast to the fascinations of sinful folly. They exhorted us to choose wisdom and avoid folly. This next portion of the book, encompassing chapters 10-15, contains194 sayings [375 through 22:16]. The development of thought is usually limited to two lines or one verse. Though they continue contrasting the righteous with the wicked, the wise and the foolish, their conduct and their reward, they are for the most part unconnected sentences, of remarkable profound thought, and acute observation expressed in contrast or illustrative form.
The frequent change of subject from one verse to another is probably intentional to force readers to grapple with and mediate on the thoughts in one verse before moving on to the next. However occasionally two or more consecutive verses are linked by a common subject. Chapter ten, verses 4 and 5 are an example.
The words diligence and industry do not carry as positive a connotation in our society as they once did. But the Bible exalts those that work over the "leisure-holics," and those who work with diligence over those who work with negligence (CIT).
I. THE VALUE OF WORK, [Industry Verses Idleness].
II. THE VITALITY FOR WORK, [Opportunities Seized Verses Neglected].
III. THE VICTORY FROM WORK, [Prosperity Verses Lack].
Some people bring unhappiness on themselves for instance by choosing "ill-gotten treasures" as in verse 2 [(1:19; 28:16; Micah 6:10, gained unjustly by theft or deceit (Prov. 16:8)]. They think the end justifies the means. [Which raises the question, "Does the way you earn your money affect you and what you do with it?"] God's principles for right living bring lasting happiness because they guide us into long-term right behavior in spite of our ever changing feelings.
These statements are not intended to be universally applied to all people in every situation. For example, some good people do go hungry. Rather, they are intended to communicate the general truth that the life of the person who seeks God is better in the long run than the life of the wicked person - a life that leads to ruin. These statements are not ironclad promises, but general truths. [In addition, proverbs like this one assume a just government that cares for the poor and needy - the kind of government Israel was intended to have (see Deuteronomy 24:17-22). A corrupt government often thwarts the plans of righteous men and women.]
In verse 3 is a promise that if you live a righteous life, God is going to take care of you (Lk. 12:27-28). It moves the question from, "Will God take care of me?" and focuses it instead on, "Am I righteous?"
Now the value of work or industry verse idleness. Verse 4 states that laziness is a cause of poverty and diligence brings profit. "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich."
Everyday observations confirms the fact that a slack or negligent hand impoverishes (19:15;20:4; 23:21; 30:30-34; Eccles. 10:18) and the hand of the diligent enriches (13:3, 21:5). If a person refuses to work, or works negligently, he or she will be poor (a word used often in Prov.), whereas, a hard worker is eventually rewarded. The hand of the industrious is active, prompt, skillful and persevering. The hand of idleness is slack, loose, unskilled and inapt. Work braces muscles and enlivens the limbs for application of strength. Indolence slackens the limbs and debilitates the body.
The diligent understand the value of work. Now some workaholics do over-do it. One Manhattan executive managed to get in a 27-hour work day. How? He picked up three extra hours on a flight from Manhattan to California. More dangerous than those who overdo it though are those who have lost sight of the value of work altogether.
A PSYCHOLOGIST once hired a man to work in his woodpile. He instructed him not to chop wood. Instead, he was simply to strike a log with the back of an ax. He would be paid the same as he would have received for chopping the wood. In a short time the man quit. He said that he couldn't stand that sort of job any longer-he had to see the chips fly! The industrious have to see the chips fly! They understand the value of work.
II. VITALITY FOR WORK. Opportunities Seized Verses Neglected
Verse 5 gives us a forceful example of diligence and of slothfulness. "He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.