The Bible Says Hard Work Pays Off (Proverbs 19:15)

The Bible has some hard hitting rebukes of behavior that God sees as a destroyer of living the life of prosperity that He intends for us. In Proverbs He speaks of “slothfulness” better known to us as laziness. What is God telling us for our own lives and how should we treat others who seem to have fallen into this lifestyle?

Verse:

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep. The idle soul shall suffer hunger.” – Proverbs 19:15

Background:

Many of the money verses found in the Bible are contained in Proverbs. As The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology puts it, there is a direct connection between deed and destiny. While the popular thinking is that the Christian life is all about faith, Proverbs frames Christianity as a life plan where good decisions lead us down one road while bad decisions lead us down another. Christianity is certainly about faith but Proverbs makes clear that faith along with the wrong life choices leads to defeat.

Study:

There are stereotypes in the world. Many of them are unfair and sometimes offensive. Others, research finds, are true. Have you ever heard that the Asian population is a well educated, hard working people? I know I’ve heard it. USAToday highlighted research that showed the stereotype to be true. Although Asian-Americans make up only 6% of the population, they have the highest share of college educated households, a median income of $66,000 compared with the overall United States median income of $49,800. Finally, and possibly most important, the report says this:

Asian Americans are more satisfied with their lives, personal finances and the general direction of the country than Americans as a whole.

Does that mean that there is a connection between hard work and happiness? The report didn’t directly link the two but it’s hard to deny the connection. This is only one of the many studies that link work and effort with happiness and prosperity.  But more important, what does God say about it? In today’s verse, it talks about slothfulness.

First, let’s look at the money angle. Matthew Henry’s Commentary lays out the many ways that slothfulness (what we would call lazy) ruins our soul. God wired each of us in similar ways. First, we were all wired to praise Him:

kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” – Psalm 148:11-13 

He also wired us to labor. Along with living the Christian life, the characters of the Bible were either engaged in full time ministry or working other jobs and employing Godly principals. Those who weren’t living this kind of life were seen as outcasts. In the New Testament, those who didn’t work hard were objects of Jesus’ healing ministry in many cases. Before we go deeper, let’s remember that this verse is speaking of those who otherwise have the capacity but choose not to use it. It’s not talking about those with a physical or mental problem that prevents them from working. Work–hard work–produces prosperity. It’s not seen just in the Bible. It has been proven many times over by science.

Let’s also not forget that a slothful attitude has an even greater mechanism of defeat. Hard work as laborers teaches us how to work hard spiritually. Working on our spiritual hearts may be something that the Holy Spirit is constantly doing in us when we let Him, but the choices we make either enable or disable that work. What do you read? What do you watch? What do you do with your time? Do you spend time in the word of God or watch TV? Think about what makes for a lazy life and although some rest is a God ordained action, too much rest can lead to defeat.

Action:

How do we treat those who clearly have a slothful attitude? First, we lead by example. We cultivate a relationship with God in our own lives that becomes infectious. When people ask why our demeanor comes across as so prosperous, we tell them that our relationship with our Savior is strong, firm, and deep. Further, we tell them that it came from hard and deliberate work.

Second, we love them anyway. My wife worked in a government agency for a short time where she was in charge of dispensing welfare benefits. She found that many could work but chose not to. This has become a national debate about the effectiveness of the welfare system but as a Christian, she loved them anyway because love is what brings people to God and it is God that changes their life.

The financial side of this verse is that the harder and smarter you work, the more prosperity will come to you. First, be educated. College is still the best path to financial prosperity but any type of marketable skill that differentiates you from others will produce wealth. Second, don’t be average. Be better than your competition and constantly strive to attain that goal. It won’t happen overnight but you’ll get there. Work harder than others and you’ll achieve this goal. Finally, but most important, follow God’s calling for your life. You’ll excel in what God has for you but remember that regardless of the calling, it will involve hard work.

Does Wealth Mean Rich? Find Out Here.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 

This verse is an action verse. It proves that we won’t find everything that God has for us without hard work. “with all your heart” is action–a lot of action. It will be frustrating before it’s rewarding. It will feel like no fruit is being produced and you’ll want to give up. But know this, fruit is being produced and God is blessing you. He knows your struggle, He knows the heart you’re putting into bettering your life, and He’s going to multiply the work.

In your life, set out to maximize each minute you have. Make it count. Regardless of what God has you do as a career, His will for your life is to use the time He has given you to its fullest potential. That’s how we live a prosperous life.