Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4
"You fellas move any slower and you are going to be doing yesterday’s work." Ernest Borgnine said that to his ranch hands in the 1956 movie Jubal. Ernest played Shep Horgan, an affable ranch owner who loved his land and his men. But even the easygoing Shep couldn’t refrain from a friendly reprimand of his hands when they shuffled about one morning.
John Wayne’s incitement to his hands to work in the The Cowboys was "Let’s go. We’re burning daylight." This became a theme his young cowboys repeated later in the movie.
The old Westerns are a favorite movie genre for many people. One of the most endearing qualities of these classics is the old-time values they portray: values of integrity, family, pride, honor, and hard work as exemplified by the hero and heroine. Contrast this with the sloppy morals and loose character of some of today’s movie heroes, and you can understand why the old Western classics are still popular fifty years after their release.
In their movies Ernest Borgnine and John Wayne tried to instill an ethic that God honored thousands of years ago: work. "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth."
Proverbs are always true but may have a different application in different situations. As a general rule lazy hands do make a man poor, and diligent hands produce wealth. But don’t we know people who worked hard all their lives and retired with very little? Several things can hamper financial success, such as bad timing, natural disasters, and economic downturns. In such cases diligent hands may not produce wealth, and that is no one’s fault. Furthermore, in today’s society, someone with a good idea can market it and get rich with comparatively very little work. They may have lazy hands but strike a gold mine the person with diligent hands never seems to find. It is a general rule that those who retire with something set aside had to work hard and save for that nest egg. Those who work as little as they can retire with as little as they earned. "Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry" (Prov. 19:15).
God instructs us on the honor and integrity of hard work. "The Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands . . . the Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous . . . if you obey the Lord your God" (Deut. 30:9–10). God promised blessing to the people if they honored him and worked with their hands.
But this promise of blessing came with a warning: we must remember that all of our blessings, whether received as an inheritance for which we did nothing or received through our own labor, are ultimately gifts from the heavenly Father: "It is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth" (Deut. 8:18).
Work is out of fashion with a lot of people. When I was in college, it was hard to find replacements for my job when I would go away for a weekend. I couldn’t find too many guys who wanted to earn some spending money by vacuuming carpets and cleaning bathrooms. It wasn’t glorious, but it was honorable.
God honors what is honorable. He honors men and women who will work hard to support their families. Hard work reflects well on one’s character. Refusal to work reflects poorly on one’s quality of life and brings criticism from the Lord: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat . . . such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat" (2 Thess. 3:10– 12).
So get busy so you won’t have to do yesterday’s work! Make good use of the daylight! Put diligent hands to the plow and overflow with thanks to God for blessing you with the ability to work. Use your blessings to his glory.