Proverbs 12:24 ESV
The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
Proverbs is full of harsh truths, truths many people enjoy forgetting. Laziness leads to ignominy and forcible hard work. Diligence leads to prosperity and authority. These truths are not without exception; they are patterns, not scientific laws.
Why does laziness lead to forced labor? The slothful man, surely, will exercise forethought in order to maintain his slothfulness without having to resort to slavery or its ilk. Well, you might think so, but lazy people are not known for their thorough forethought. In the short term, going into debt to finance their lifestyle seems like an easy decision that will only have pleasant consequences. After all, if the US government can do it, why shouldn’t they?
Debt, in Biblical terms, is a form of slavery. As Proverbs 22:7 states, “The borrower is the slave of the lender.” The debtor must serve the man who owes that debt to; he is, in other words, a slave. He is ‘forced labor’. To the lazy, borrowing money is a quick and easy way to fund their lives; in typically ironic fashion, God has created a world which rewards this haste towards ease with forced labor, as the man who borrows must eventually pay.
The diligent, meanwhile, eschew the path of least resistance, the path which leads quickly and inevitably towards the muck. The righteous among the diligent turn their hands to the plow and persist in the way God has set, laboring as Jacob did for Rachel in the sanctification of the world. The wicked who, despite their wickedness, still practice diligence, these men achieve deeds which the lazy cannot ever dream of. To say that all the influential men of history possessed at least a measure of diligence is not an exaggeration. They often turned this diligence only to certain goals; they often turned this diligence to evil goals. Yet if they had been lazy none would remember them.
The diligence of the righteous, though, is of a different character. God blesses the hand of the righteous. Sometimes this means material prosperity, as Solomon knew; sometimes this means spiritual prosperity, as Paul knew. The first is, in the end, hollow without the second, but riches are a blessing from God and not to be spurned out of presumption. The stories of David, of Paul, of Luther, of Calvin, of Washington, of Lee, are these not all stories of men whose diligence in righteousness brought great glory to God? We would be amiss to ignore their examples.
How does all this diligence, effective though it may be, bring its practitioner to a position of authority, to rulership?
People notice diligence, whether to admire or envy, and usually to do both. Diligence, blessed by God, leads to prosperity, not just in wealth, but in the fulfilment of man’s endeavors; for some men, this means entering leadership. The diligence of Joshua, in fulfilling the commission Moses gave him, led him to succeed Moses upon that man’s death. The diligence of David, in continually carrying out his responsibilities and in continually seeking the good of Israel, led eventually to his crowning at Hebron. The diligence of Christ in pursuing His Kingdom led Him to the cross and ultimately to the Throne above all others, from which He had descended in His incarnation.
This is not to say that all diligence will be rewarded with leadership. There is a pattern- diligence in the workplace, for instance, will, in the hands of a competent and wise leader, result in being placed in a situation of greater leadership. Some people, however, are not called to rule over other men.
Here we must remember the dominion mandate: man is to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, to subdue it (Genesis 1:28). As servants of Christ, who sits in the heavens, to Whom the earth is a footstool and all the kings of the earth as clay pots, we are to rule over the earth, and, as this proverb states, that rulership is to be accomplished and fulfilled in diligence (Psalm 110:1, 2:9).
Paul exhorts us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling,” a command not only to fidelity but to diligence in that fidelity (Philippians 2:12). This task is utterly beyond sinful man, who does, as Paul elsewhere reminds us, only evil (Romans 3:12). Therefore, we must give glory to God, who lifts us up out of our sin and trespasses, granting us new life by His sacrifice, and enabling us to fulfil the commands which He gives us, to grow more and more like Him in character (Colossians 2:13). To His name be praise, for ever and ever.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.