The Nature and Consequences of Idleness and of Industry
Proverbs 13:4
The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

This text is true both in a temporal and spiritual sense.

I. THE NATURE AND EFFECTS OF SLOTH. The slothful man wants to attain the end without the use of the proper means. He would be rich without labour, learned without study, and respected without doing anything to deserve respect. This desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. Such persons waste their days in forming idle schemes and vain wishes. The consequences are often very terrible. They become a plague and a burden to all who are connected with them. They frequently injure their best friends, prey upon the property of others, and bring disgrace and ruin upon their dearest earthly connections. Our land, all our lands, abound with such drones. Slothfulness also gives birth to envy, discontent, fraud, lying, and almost every other evil work. In whatever situation of life a slothful person is fixed, he will, from this disposition, fall into some destructive vice, and become miserable in himself and mischievous to others. A sluggard, whatever he may profess, cannot be a truly religious person, or possessed of those graces which form the character of a member of Christ and a child of God. The sluggard may desire the good things of religion, but as he will not use the means for attaining them, he "desires, and has nothing." God will be found only of them who diligently seek Him. A slothful disposition is so pernicious in its nature and effects that wherever it reigns and has the dominion, it must debase a person's character and pervert the end for which he was sent into the world.

II. THE NATURE AND EFFECTS OF INDUSTRY. Plenty and comfort are, in general, the consequences of diligence, both in our temporal and spiritual calling. Whatever may be a person's rank or circumstances, the providence of God has given him something to do. The sober and industrious are the glory and strength of every nation. And the industrious disposition is a great preservative against vice. Those who are trained up to honest labour and habits of industry seldom fall into those criminal excesses to which the slothful are prone. The most salutary effects of diligence are seen in religion. The diligent use of all appointed means of grace is crowned with the Divine blessing. These are the persons who have always done the most good in the world, and whom God and men have delighted to honour. There may, of course, be exceptions to the general rule. Would you, then, provide things honest in the sight of all men, pursue your profession with success, maintain yourselves and your families, and become easy in your circumstances, you must be sober and industrious, diligent and laborious. And so you must be if you would enjoy the peace and blessing of God. Some may from this learn the true reason of their embarrassments. They have spent themselves in wishing, not in working.

(W. Richardson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

WEB: The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, but the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied.

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