Proverbs 12:27 (NKJV)
27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession.
Paul writes in Romans 8:29 that God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Proverbs assist us in that process, directing us in the way of wisdom and teaching us what it is to imitate our Lord’s character. Today we are instructed once again to be diligent not lazy.
A few weeks ago we considered Solomon’s adage, “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (12:24). So important is diligence that Solomon reiterates it in our text today, “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is a man’s precious possession.” So let us expand what we learned last time about diligence.
Webster defines “diligent” as “steady in application to business; constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; assiduous; attentive; industrious; not idle or negligent…” The man of diligence is not afraid of hard work and exertion. He remembers that God created man to work. We were designed to fill the earth and subdue it and to exercise dominion over it (Gen 1:28). God did not put mankind in the garden so that he would sit back and eat grapes all week; God put mankind in the garden to work. Adam was to take the order of the garden and extend it to the rest of creation. And though the Fall introduced toil into the world, often causing our work to be frustrating or foiled, work itself remains good and noble and right, a holy calling. Consequently, the righteous man is diligent. Such diligence is his precious possession, more valuable than wealth itself because diligence is the pathway to wealth.
The lazy man, on the other hand, does not roast what he took in hunting. He fails to complete his tasks. Oh, he sets out industriously. He grabs his gun, heads out in the woods, and takes a deer. But having done all this work, having pushed himself this far, he gives up. He can’t bring himself to roast the deer for dinner. The result? He starves or steals from others.
Solomon’s words remind us that diligence is characterized by perseverance. We all grow tired in our work. We set out with great ambitions and desires and goals. We are going to change the world. But we didn’t think that changing the world entailed changing quite that many diapers or correcting quite that many papers or writing quite that many reports or stocking quite that many shelves or plumbing quite that many buildings or forgiving quite that many sins. You get the idea. We grow tired. The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. So we scrap our work and set out for something new – not because that new opportunity is truly better; rather because we are lazy and don’t want to finish the work that God has given us to do.
So what of you? Are you diligent or lazy? When you are given a task, do you complete it? Or do you regularly leave things half done? Do you start jobs and rarely finish them? Start reading your Bible but rarely follow through with your plan? Start cleaning your room but leave that mess in the closet? Start praying with your family but cease after a week? Start your homework but give excuses to your teacher for why it’s not finished? Are you diligent or are you lazy?
Reminded that we are called to be diligent men and women and children who are “steady in application to business, constant in effort or exertion,” let us acknowledge that we are often lazy, that we often leave jobs half done and make excuses for our laziness. And as we confess our sin to the Lord and seek His forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us kneel as we are able.