By Al Sandlin
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Prov. 22:29). “Mean men” in this passage are obscure men; men of no significance in wisdom and power. This passage teaches us that there are many fringe benefits in exercising diligence in one’s business.
The first benefit that comes to mind is that a command of God has been kept. Ecclessiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Then we find in Romans 12:11, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Even our business or secular occupation is encircled by Christianity. The more diligent we are in our secular work, the more pleasing we are unto him who provides our daily bread.
King Solomon observed the “industriousness” of Jeroboam and thus appointed him as a ruler. 1 Kings 11:28 says, “Now the man Jeroboam was a valiant warrior, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious, he appointed him over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.” Whether we are business owners or in the employ of a business, it is our obligation to be diligent because we are, after all, working for the Lord (Col. 3:24). Those who are in power in a city, county, state, or nation look at the performance record of a prospect before filling an important position. When a person of proven ability is found, then he/she “will stand before kings.”
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 demonstrates the pleasure of God in those who are diligent with that which has been entrusted to them. The two servants who exercised diligence had this said to them in verses 21 and 23, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou halt been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Jesus spoke this parable concerning the kingdom of heaven of which Christians are a part. Our King is looking at those who are hard working, industrious, assiduous Christians for one purpose — to make them rulers over many things. Does it strike you as odd that God wants to use people who are busy to give them even more responsibilities? That’s the kind of people he needs as rulers in his church upon the earth (elders) and rulers in the home (fathers and mothers). Throughout the Bible God rewarded diligence for things that are right and good. At the judgment those who have been diligent in secular work and in the kingdom will be rewarded.
Another benefit of diligence in business is that personal, self-satisfaction that one has when he has done his best. Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” One who would provide well for his family must indeed be a person of diligence. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” As diligent servants in the kingdom of heaven, God would have us to rejoice with a sense of fulfillment in that which we accomplish here “under the sun.” A key ingredient in that contentment, however, is to be ever thankful to God for his blessings which enable us to discharge our responsibilities. Notice that Solomon was careful to give God the credit in the above cited passage. “This is the gift of God,” he said. Diligence is rewarded by God here and hereafter. “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God” (Eccl. 2:24).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 6-7
August 5, 1993