Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Hands of the Diligent Make One Rich (Proverbs 10:4)

Hidden Nuggets Series #59 – “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” -Proverbs 10:4

diligentTake a look at your hands.

What do you see?

At first glance I see the obvious – the lines in the palm, the shape of the fingers and thumb, the knuckles and the fingernails. These are the physical features that should clearly stand out.

Yet with closer examination I see something else. These hands represent my livelihood. The way in which I use them determines the course of my life.

I perceive only two possible scenarios for the work of my hands. They can choose to be diligent hands or they can choose to be slack hands. That choice can shape my life.

Diligent vs. Slack Hands

Diligent hands show care for their work. They are conscientious about the duties they perform. One would find them always busy, moving, and actively engaged in the challenges of the day.

They are tenacious, persistent and committed.

Slack hands fail to demonstrate the same work ethic. These hands produce lackadaisical effort and lack the energy to complete essential tasks. They are slow to respond to tasks and are negligent in their work. When they do manage to finish an assignment it is done haphazardly by cutting every imaginable corner.

They are careless, inefficient and lazy.

Which hands do you have?

A Proper Mindset Comes Before Diligence

The reason I ask the question is because of verses like this one from the Bible…

“He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)

An obvious difference exists between hands that choose to work diligently and hands that don’t. One leads to riches and another does not. We are not told exactly how rich diligent hands might make one become. At the very least we can assume they allow us to provide for our day-to-day needs. In most parts of the world that would be considered rich.

I continue to be amazed at people who assume riches should fall in their lap with little effort. Or even worse, be given to them by someone else without doing any work. What drives that spirit of laziness in a person? Surely they can’t enjoy the poverty that has consumed them. Where is the drive that would spur them on to better their situation and create long-term financial success for their family?

It’s difficult for me to speak to the mental and emotional challenges someone who is poor might be experiencing. And I know that circumstances can seem like an overwhelming issue. I’m guessing that discouragement and despair have taken over to the point that they think no amount of diligent work will move them out of their current state. If that’s the case then it’s too bad because the first step to working hard is to have the willpower to do so. If they can’t muster even a shred of determination there is very little hope for life change to occur.

Commit to Diligence

Look at your hands again and be honest. Are they committed to diligence? Do they work hard to provide for your needs each day? If not, ask yourself if you are enjoying the alternative.

It’s not a place I’m willing to go.

Questions: How has diligence paid off in your life? Have there been times when you were less committed to working hard? How can we encourage those who are beaten down to develop the willpower to succeed?

Image by Bezrukov at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: Debt Begins When You Swipe a Credit Card

Prior Post: How to Make a Zero-Based Budget in Three Easy Steps

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Whenever I look at it, I have the diligent hands, that’s what I always believe in. Being a father for two, I feel I don’t have time to get the slack hands bec. I have a family to raise and to support. I use it the right way, I really have to.

  2. Love your thoughts here, Brian. We can tell a lot by a person’s hands and the diligence of their work. I definitely do not have idle hands. It’s not my nature. My biggest problem is taking on too much and not always being able to give everything that care and attention it deserves. I’ve been working on pulling back so that I have the time and energy to focus on the things I care about the most.

    • Whenever I’ve taken too much I can’t give 100% to all the tasks. I only feel like I can give each one 50% and that makes me think I’m doing an inadequate job on each of them. I guess that’s where the fine art of saying “No” comes into play. We can’t do it all.

  3. As a perfectionist, I have the opposite problem. I’m often too diligent and focused that I forget to take breaks, relax, and have fun. It’s one of the hardest things for me to do! By putting “me time” or fun things in my calendar and scheduling it, I make sure to get the relaxation I need – otherwise, I’m diligently doing things, crossing them off my never-ending lists!

    • “…I forget to take breaks, relax, and have fun.” I’ve learned to schedule those things as well Natalie. Something work related will always find its way onto my calendar if I don’t. I think that’s a good practice.

  4. I think hard work is instilled in you at home and at school (if you’re lucky) but once you head out into the big, wide world you need to find other sources of inspiration unless you’re strong enough to find it within: a mentor is one option. Personally, I find inspiration to work hard all around me: success levels may vary, but everyone’s doing their best in their own way.

    • Completely agree Myles that values taught at home are critical. The child that receives those is much more likely to draw on those values when they find themselves out in society once they’ve left the nest.

  5. This is interesting, Brian. I often think of wealth in terms of the Bible and what God wants us to do and to have. Some points of view is that all money is God’s and we should only use the bare minimum to sustain life, giving the rest to charity. Others believe that God wants us to be happy and if we use our wealth responsibly to achieve happiness He is ok with that. I wonder what is considered diligence. Does it mean we should gain wealth only through physical labor? Or is diligence in tending to our investments acceptable? In Biblical times, there weren’t a lot of opportunities to make money through investments so I always wonder if physical labor is the only way. I’m far from being a scholar of the Bible so always appreciate your take on the verses you cite.

    • Great thoughts here Kathy! My perspective on what the Bible says is that we are to be wise stewards of whatever resources are given us. That includes using them to supply our needs in the best way we can…in giving to the church and others…and he how we grow that wealth. And in relation to the growing of wealth, I figure the more that I grow the more that can be done with it for the good of others.

  6. Great metaphor. We shape so much of our lives through the use of our hands, that if you place the image of your hands elsewhere (on your spirit, your heart, etc.) you can yield the same influence on the world around you and your place within.

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