Proverbs 12:24 

24The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor. 

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 to be diligent not lazy.

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 is good and noble and right, a holy calling. Consequently, the righteous man is diligent. And God’s promise to the diligent man is that “he will rule” – this often proves true in this life and shall certainly prove true in the next. For Christ has died and risen again and given us the hope of a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwell; hence, “our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). 

The lazy man, on the other hand, will be put to forced labor. Unwilling to compel himself to work, he will be compelled to work by others. So who is the lazy man? Let us reverse engineer Webster’s definition of diligence. Lazy means “unsteady in application to business; inconstant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; inattentive; idle or negligent…” The lazy man is full of excuses. Solomon writes, “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway” (Pr 15:19). In other words, whereas the diligent man clears away excuses and accomplishes the task given to him, the lazy man is full of excuses. There is always a reason the work can’t get done, the project can’t get finished, the job can’t be accomplished.

So what of you? Are you diligent or lazy? When you are given a task, does your parent or your boss or your spouse have to remind you to complete it? Children – is your room a pig stie or do you pick it up? Do you do your homework willingly or do you need constant reminders? Are your chores routinely accomplished or just as routinely neglected? Young men – are you wasting an inordinate amount of time on video games or your phone or entertainment rather than gaining skills that you can use to rule a family? Adults – are you redeeming the time because the days are evil? Are you growing in faithfulness? Diligent in your vocation? Devoted to reading the Word of God and deepening your knowledge of God? Or is there always an excuse?

Reminded that we are to be diligent men and women and children who are attentive and industrious, let us acknowledge that we are often lazy, that we often make excuses when we should accept responsibility. 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.