The Pastor’s Desk
February 21st, 2020
Why is it that some people seem to have a natural ability to succeed; others seem to fail in most of what they do. What makes the difference between success and failure; between reaching the goal and missing the mark? In many cases, the answer can be found in one word: diligence. But, just what is diligence? How can we have it? Where can we find it?
If we look up “diligence” in a dictionary or thesaurus, how do we find it defined? Persevering application. Assiduousness. Industriousness. Vigor. Care.
Diligence is an attitude that drives us to accomplish a mission successfully. Simply put, diligence is the opposite, the extreme opposite, of laziness.
But, what about you? Consider your tendencies. Are you truly diligent in your projects or undertakings? Do you pursue your projects with a positive attitude? Do you work as hard as you can? Are you really determined to succeed? Do you pursue your goals with perseverance and determination, convinced that you are able to succeed? If so, you are a diligent individual. This is what life requires of us: effort, courage, confidence that we can succeed.
How does God look at diligence? Are His teachings easy to follow, easy to understand? What are the methods He recommends in the Bible? In short, what are His instructions on the subject of diligence?
Through many striking examples, contrasts and comparisons, the book of Proverbs explains and illustrates the concept of diligence. It teaches us the secrets of how to be diligent, not the way we human beings think, but the way God the Creator thinks.
Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs under God’s inspiration. We in God’s Church need to study this book’s instructions much more seriously than most people do. Since these instructions are inspired of God, they should be a part of our daily Bible study and our spiritual nourishment. God will give us the right counsel in every case; the right approach and judgment, the right guidance. Each chapter of Proverbs is a practical manual for success. Each proverb relating to diligence shows the difference between failure and success; between missing the mark and achieving the goal.
For instance, Solomon writes, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man”(Proverbs 6:6–11).
God compares the ant and the sluggard to show us the difference, the contrast, between the two opposites: diligence and laziness. Sometimes we want to achieve our goals without working hard, without making the necessary sacrifice. Undoubtedly, that is not the way to succeed. Success does require hard work, as well as learning and studying to prepare ourselves for the tasks ahead.
We read, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4). A slack hand is a lazy hand, an inactive hand. Such a hand leads to poverty. If you lead your life with slackness, you are headed for poverty. On the contrary, if you are diligent, if you firmly pursue your tasks, you enrich yourself.
How do you measure up in this respect? Answer yourself honestly. Do you easily abandon a project because you find it difficult? Always count the cost before starting a project. Weigh the positives and the negatives; then, once you start work on it, persevere until the end without becoming discouraged. Do not give up. Do not quit. Do not follow the footsteps of those who fail to make it to the finish line.
“He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame” (Proverbs 10:5). You must work in due season. Those who farm know, if you do not sow a field in the right season, you will have nothing much to harvest. You will find yourself poor. This principle can be applied in other fields. We might have brilliant ideas, but they will fail if we do not apply them the right way and at the right time.
“The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession” (Proverbs 12:27). What good is it to go hunting or fishing if we do not follow through to prepare what we catch? We need to work to finish what we begin; without ceasing to do our part and without waiting on others. We need to be diligent. Diligent people will always be able to provide for their needs with God’s help. They are ready to do what is necessary. “The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on” (Proverbs 16:26). We all need to eat to survive, and so we must work (II Thessalonians 3:10).
But there should also be joy in work. If we enjoy our jobs (and we should), and if we commit our works to God, our labor will make us appreciate what we earn to support ourselves. Our very existence will drive us to work hard, and we will be blessed in our work.
“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Proverbs 13:4). Some people complain about their situation. They may blame their failure on a lack of education, talents or resources. They justify their idleness by talking about what they do not have, instead of making the most of what they do have, and striving to gain what they lack. Inactivity can become a barrier that the idle seem unable to overcome. Often, failure is not caused by scarcity of talents, but by laziness. We want to have more but do less. This goes against the principles that lead to success. Fight against laziness, follow God’s instructions, walk in the way of His commandments, do not make excuses, do not blame others for your problems, and God will make the path for success straight for you (Proverbs 15:19).
Most people who fail talk much, without doing much. “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). Talk without action means nothing. Unimplemented ideas lead to nothing. But those who are diligent produce results. They understand the difference between empty words and serious work.
“The king’s favor is toward a wise servant, but his wrath is against him who causes shame” (Proverbs 14:35). Those in authority, when they entrust a task to someone under them, are relying on their servant’s wisdom to accomplish the mission. Such a servant is called wise if he assumes his responsibilities, fulfills his mission, with understanding and wisdom. But if he does not do what is required of him, if he becomes slack, he will bring shame to his superior. Do you see what this means? You can make the difference between success and failure in your workplace! You can bring shame or honor to your boss, and even to God.
“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts (plans) will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). This is an absolute guarantee for success, because God does not lie. He keeps His promises. Put this proverb to the test. Commit your works to God. This means doing what is right in His eyes. You cannot be blessed if your works are against God’s will.
“The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” (Proverbs 22:13). Obviously, that excuse seems ridiculous, but that type of attitude will prevent us from executing our plans and progressing in life. We must open our eyes to see the help God is giving us. Know that it is His will for us to succeed. He will always give us His help and protection.
“The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (Proverbs 26:16). We all have our reasons for being lazy and they seem reasonable to us. Does this apply to you? We usually find it easy to notice this behavior in others, but we do not recognize it so easily in ourselves. You probably have your own opinions on many subjects, and you hold on to them. And you esteem your opinions to be better than those of others. Most individuals think that they are right, at least more right than their neighbors. We should have wisdom to discern which of our thoughts are righteous and which are not; which thoughts are intelligent, and which are not. We should ask God to help us follow the thoughts and ideas that are pleasing to Him, those that are inspired by His wisdom and intelligence.
“Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13). “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15). The Bible often repeats the same principles in different ways, because we all learn differently. If you waste your time, if you are negligent, if you love excessive sleep, your efforts will not produce the desired results.
Open your eyes, first to learn, then to put into practice what you have learned! Certainly, we do not all have the same abilities or energy levels, but we all have the abilities we need to fulfill the purpose for which God has created us! Keep this in mind. This is how to understand God’s justice. God is your Creator. Trust Him. Follow the way that He has laid out before you. By so doing, the desired end-result will be guaranteed. Never make vain excuses. Do not rationalize your vain reasoning. Diligently face reality with God’s help. Diligence will lead to success; laziness will lead to failure.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). Think and plan ahead before you act. We are usually in a hurry to see results. It is better to proceed slowly and surely than to act precipitously. Avoid shortcuts, and concentrate on the task at hand. Prepare yourself mentally to be strong in case of setbacks. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10). Most people abandon their projects when they encounter trials. In reality, we should be more courageous and more persevering when we encounter trials.
Do not try to “escape” life by seeking temporary physical pleasures (Proverbs 21:17). The word “pleasure” in this context means pleasure in a physical sense, not joy in the spiritual sense. Many people give themselves over to carnal pleasures and intoxicating vices, without really obtaining the satisfaction they are looking for. Long-lasting joy and happiness will be found in the way of God. Certainly, we can use and enjoy physical things, but we should never abuse them. Sadly, in this world, most people give priority to physical pleasures that end in disappointment. “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:21).
“He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Proverbs 18:9). Slothfulness leads to failure and destruction. Failure is often due to laziness; physical, mental or even spiritual. Being diligent is part of our calling as Christians. We must “bear fruit”, and produce results (Galatians 5:22–23). Be diligent in all that you do, especially in maintaining your relationship with God (Hebrews 2:3). Spend time with your Bible to understand God’s mind. In your prayers, ask God to help you know Him better. Be willing to receive God’s instructions. Admit your faults and your shortcomings.
Do not justify yourself. On the contrary, ask God daily, every time you talk to Him, to instruct you in the way of righteousness, to instruct you, to teach you the humility that you need. Every human being needs to be humble. Ask Him to help you understand the changes that you need to implement in your life in order to overcome slothfulness and start living a life of diligence (Proverbs 19:25).
“Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house… I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:27, 30–34). Heed God’s counsel and you will see how your life will change. You will be happier, and you will face trials with a better attitude. Do your part and you will always be blessed, no matter what trials you encounter in life.
The Bible reveals these fundamental truths so that we are without excuse for failure. Those who submit to God, who do His will, have an absolute guarantee for success. Nobody was born to fail. Nobody was born to suffer forever. We should thank God for giving us all the tools that we need to achieve our goal, to fulfill the purpose for which we were born.
The more you study the Bible, the wiser you will be, if you put into practice what you learn. God is always good to those who walk in His way, which leads to success and happiness. We were created to be born into the Kingdom of God. But to fulfill God’s purpose for us requires diligence on our part. Submit to God. Do His will. Stop complaining and making excuses to justify your mistakes. Trust in God, follow the way that He has laid out in the Bible, and you will be on the path to success.
Mark A. Whynaucht