Proverbs 21:5

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

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Business and financial success start in the head. A diligent man plans his career, training, life, efforts, savings, time, schedule, and other factors to accomplish wise goals, and he obtains success. A lazy man, too impatient to pursue success the godly way – by hard and intelligent effort – can only think about shortcuts, and they end up cutting him short.

The proverb compares business thinking. Contrast its parallel clauses. Solomon’s proverbs often have two clauses to be compared and contrasted to get the full lesson. The first clause describes a diligent man getting rich. The second clause describes a hasty man becoming poor. He taught that a diligent man is patient in his thoughts and efforts, and he will succeed. A lazy man is impatient in his thoughts and efforts, and he is going down.

A diligent man knows that plowing his field day after day will yield results (Pr 12:11; 28:19). Planting one kernel of corn will yield 800 six months later. He knows it is a boring, hard, and thankless job – one not featured in infomercials. He knows farmers do not often drive sports cars or wear Rolex watches. They invest capital in more important things – land and income-producing equipment. He knows that his savings is a precious investment, the seed corn for next spring or the funds to buy a bigger tractor (Pr 14:4).

If a man will dedicate himself to a basic and necessary job or business like farming (it can just as easily be a white collar profession), he has the foundation in place for success. If he will faithfully outwork others at this job with the wisdom of Proverbs, looking for ways to work smarter than others, saving part of every paycheck, and investing it conservatively, he will get ahead (Pr 10:4; 13:4; 22:29; 27:18; Eccl 10:10). Guaranteed! If this sounds too boring or slow, be assured that the proverb’s “want” describes you.

A lazy man has a better idea. He is so sure of his thoughts he does not care about your reasons against them (Pr 26:16). He does not like boring or hard work, and he expects a sports car and Rolex. Perseverance is a curse word to him. He loves to watch the lifestyles of the rich and famous on television. He wants a glamorous job that pays lots of money, without hard work, where he will not get dirty. He would never be a grunt like a farmer. He wants a shortcut to bring him the big bucks. He plans to retire in 10 years.

The world has options for daydreaming sluggards. He attends a network marketing rally, where he sings, “God Bless America,” and listens to a flashy couple describe their yacht. But he cannot see the 10,000 poor souls in their downline that buy over-priced soap every month to pay for that yacht. He sees a man win the lottery, but he cannot see the 10,000,000 poor folks that paid for the winnings and a new school. He cannot grasp that a lottery is the only way to tax the poor, who do not earn enough for income taxes.

He moves along the magazine counter to find something better than network marketing or the lottery. Of course! A wannabee investor has published a shiny magazine about daytraders. He opens an account with borrowed money, and before he can read the third chapter, the broker has swallowed his account. He then finds a sure thing – a guaranteed investment paying 50% every quarter with lots of testimonials about big fat checks. He borrows from his other grandmother this time, but shortly after “investing” his funds, he reads that his money has been stolen by a Ponzi scheme set up for smart guys like him.

If this lazy daydreamer does not get his thoughts corrected, his covetousness and greed may tempt him to consider bribes, stealing, false business practices, altering family wills, or other foolish and wicked efforts to catch up to the faithful farmer (Pr 20:21; 28:20,22). He should visit the farmer and ask for a job. Maybe he could drive a tractor for a few years, saving his money, until he can buy his own tractor and rent out his services.

King Solomon carefully observed and analyzed both rich and poor (Pr 24:30-34; 27:23-27). He even watched ants at work (Pr 6:6-11; 30:25). With God’s wisdom and divine inspiration, he put his conclusions about economic success in proverbs to benefit his son and his citizens (Pr 1:1-9; Eccl 12:8-14). Are you willing to give up your foolish thoughts and begin to think like a wise man? The choice is yours – prosperity or poverty!

There is a greater matter calling for your diligence – to please God and lay hold of eternal life. Peter wrote that it required all diligence and abounding fruit to prove election to heaven (II Pet 1:5-11). In a day of many foolish heresies and ideas, eternal life by a hasty and manipulated emotional decision may be the worst of all (Jn 1:13; Rom 9:15-16). Those trusting such vanity will be found wanting in the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:21-23).