Proverbs 13:4

An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
Charles Bridges

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat."

Another vivid contrast of the sluggard with the diligent! The sluggard desires the gain of diligence without the diligence that gains. He would be wise without study and rich without labor. His religion is of the same heartless character. He desires to overcome his bad habits, to enjoy the happiness of God's people. So far so good. Desires are a part of religion; there can be no attainment without them. Many, though, have not even the desire. They ridicule it as enthusiasm. Yet the sluggard has nothing, because it is desire without effort. He ever desires, but he takes no pains to get anything. He would fain [willingly] go to heaven if a morning dream would carry him there, and many a wish he sighs for the death of the righteous. He would gladly be a Christian if it cost him no trouble. His duties are a force upon him, and when they are over he feels as if relieved from a heavy weight. This is no rare case. Often do we hear the cry--and that year after year--"I desire to be a child of God." And yet the soul continues at the same point, or rather settles down more resolutely in a lifeless profession. "Hell," says an old writer, "is paved with such desires."

Oh, be industrious, if anywhere, in religion! Eternity is at stake. Hours, days are lost. Soon they come to years, and for lack of energy all is lost. Heartless wishes will not give life. The halting step will not bring us to God. A few minutes of cold prayers will not seize the prize. To expect the blessing without diligence is delusion.

Diligence brings its own reward in the world, much more in religion. It will not be content with desiring without the reality of possession. The exercise of godliness tends to health and profit. Useful habits are formed, dormant energy is excited. The conflict of faith and the violence of prayer ensure success. God honors the "trading of talents," where he has the full revenue of his own gifts (Matt. 25:14-29). He gives not for selfish indulgence, but for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:7). The talent [coin] must not be hid in a napkin or the light under the bushel. False humility--a cover for indolence--must not hinder the faithful discharge of our trust.

Child of God, shake off the dust of sloth. Take care that the bed of ease does not pall your appetite and hinder you from seeking food for your soul, or from active exercise for God. Let your graces be vigorous and radiant. Let your profession be always progressing, deepening, expanding. If you be in Christ, seek to be rooted and grounded in him. Let there be life more abundantly. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Then your soul shall be made fat, healthful, vigorous in all fruit and grace.

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