“See a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings…” Proverbs 22:29
Diligence is a word with many sides. It has to do with work, but more, it is an attitude and action toward work. It means to hasten to do a thing, to exert yourself, to endeavour with zeal. It also indicates action with careful attention, imagination, earnestness and accuracy.
In Zechariah 6:15 it is connected with a promise of God. “…And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.” So, if we will diligently obey God, exerting ourselves with zeal and attention to His commands, we will see Him working in our midst.
This promise is never truer than in the diligence with which we are to do our business in this life. What is your business? Are you a skilled worker, a banker, a shop worker, a housekeeper, a wife, a husband, parent, servant of God? We have many types of business in which we are employed in this life. There are no menial tasks in God’s economy. We are to do all of our business as unto the Lord with fervour and diligence.
Diligence is not to be equated with the mentality of slave labour or bondage. It is just the opposite. It is goal oriented and will always hold reward. The promise in Zechariah is of assurance of God’s presence. The promise in Proverbs 22 is of advancement. To receive these promises and more that come from diligent endeavour, we must heed the words of Solomon again. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever…”
What do you have? Health, education, a house, a family, a church home, a Bible, a job, a car, a pet? All are gifts from God. Are you taking good care of them? Are you being a good steward of what God has given you? Are you being diligent?
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Proverbs 10:4
I used to try to encourage my family that if we would all just work together for thirty minutes we could accomplish a task. It might be something as simple as a general clean up round the house. I would be met with moans and groans. It was like trying to drive turtles!
Of course it would take longer than thirty minutes to complete and simply because they wasted so much time complaining and trying to get out of work that they made the task much harder. They seemed to never learn the joy and richness of the task, only the annoyance at being asked. They were left poorer.
There is a wonderful secret to be learned in finding the richness afforded those who understand that a task diligently accomplished brings joy and satisfaction.
This principle applies in so many areas of life. In our marriage, diligence pays great dividends. In our jobs, diligence is paramount to success. In our finances, diligence is necessary to keep our heads above water and to prepare for retirement. In child-rearing, diligence is demanded to produce a maturing adult who can go out and care for themselves in society. In our Christian walk diligence means that we are faithful to our Bible reading, prayer time, church attendance and service to the Lord while always looking to “keep ourselves in the love of God”.
Diligence in all of these areas will make us truly rich. These riches may not be tangible, but the real riches never are. You can never put a price on joy and satisfaction and they can never be won without diligence.
What areas of your life need more attention? Do you understand the richness of a job well done? Do you see the unnecessary hazards brought by slothfulness?
“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute…The slothful man roasted not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” Proverbs 12:24 & 27
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” Proverbs 13:4
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Proverbs 21:5
In every one of these verses the word “diligent” means industrious, or like a tool for harvest. Look at the qualities. The diligent will be leader. They consider their takings precious. They are full and satisfied. Their goals only produce more.
Being industrious reminds me of my grandparents. They knew how to farm and how to make money really stretch. I remember my grandmother frequently telling me, “It’s not how much money you make, but it is how you manage your money.” Those are wise words.
They had survived the great Depression and WWII. They had retired and continued to be frugal and yet generous. They knew the value of the things they possessed and used their possessions to create more wealth so they could give to their children and to the needy that they met. They were a great example to me. Their example also helped me see the other side of the coin.
On the other hand, I saw people who seemed to always be down, because they didn’t take care of their finances. I saw people who would squander all they had on a moment’s pleasure and I saw them then wanting more because they had nothing left. I also saw people looking for get-rich-quick schemes and trying to draw me into their web. There was no joy or satisfaction in their lives and rarely did they have anything to share with others.
The Proverbs of the diligent and the sluggards was played out before me. And, no doubt, you have observed them played out before you. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the fruits of diligence than the fruits of sloth.
How are your management skills? Are you a good steward?
“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” Proverbs 27:23
This diligence is about knowing that your affairs are in order. The writer refers to flocks and herds because these were the economy of the day. A farmer with livestock knows that the animals must be cared for daily. They need feed and water. They need to be protected from wild beasts and disease.
Today we might think that farming is for the simple minded, but we are deceiving ourselves. There is a great amount of knowledge and work demanded to be a successful farmer. The farmer knows that a severe storm or a blighted crop can destroy all he has worked for. He knows that riches are not forever! So he is diligent to make sure that he has prepared for all known contingencies and then leaves the rest with God.
Life is uncertain. We can lose our job. We can miss out on a promotion. We can get a cut in pay. Our retirement fund can disappear. Age will move us down the pay scale. Illness can make us housebound. Any number of things can change our circumstances. Wise financial planning is taught throughout the Bible and God calls upon us to make good use of the riches he has given us. He knows that these things are temporal, but He expects us to be good stewards and then leave the rest with Him.
I am not promoting a life of fear, but a life of diligent consideration. Do you have a will prepared? Do you have life and health insurance? Do you have some savings? Are you looking diligently to the state of your life?
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
To guard, keep in custody or imprison. That is the picture painted by the Proverb. We are to guard our heart to the point that it is cut off from worldly outside influences.
When I think of the Scriptures that describe our hearts I can see why this picture is painted. The heart is desperately wicked, it is deceitful, the heart is the source of evil thoughts, it is troubled, it is blind, and it probably should be in prison! It needs a strong hand! I know my heart does!
When I think that out of my heart come the words that I say and the thoughts that I think, I am ashamed. Though these words never cross my lips and these thoughts are never heard or recorded, I know they are there. I know my heart rages sometimes and can be extremely playful with wicked imaginations - if I allow.
That is the key – if I allow. My heart was cleansed at Calvary. I do not have to allow it’s sinful tendencies to rule my life any more. It has been conquered and by my choices I bring it now into obedience to Christ.
I must diligently consider how I feed my heart and how I protect my heart. If I allow it to feed on anger or resentment, it will react. If I expose it to pornography or gossip, it will react. There is an admonition in Jeremiah 10:2 that says, “…learn not the way of the heathen.” As God’s children we are to be diligently focusing our hearts on learning more of Him – not learning more of the way of the world.
Conversely, if I feed my heart on God’s Word, forgiveness, compassion and love, it will react accordingly. If I protect it from evil and keep the good and pleasant before my eyes, my heart will respond. I am a product of what goes into my heart through the windows of my eyes and mind. That’s what the Proverbs means when it refers to the issues of life.
So….what is issuing from your heart today? Is your heart protected or exposed? What is your heart feeding upon? What is your heart learning? Are you diligently tending it or allowing it free reign?