"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich." "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."
The many admonitions to diligence found in both the Old and the New Testament plainly indicate the intimate relation existing between our habits of life and our religious feelings and practices. The human mind and body are so constituted that plenty of exercise is necessary in order to a proper development of all the faculties. While many are too much engaged in worldly business, others go to the opposite extreme and do not labor sufficiently to support themselves or those dependent upon them. Brother ----- is one of this class. While he occupies the position of house band to his family he is not this in reality. The heaviest responsibilities and burdens he allows to rest upon his wife, while he indulges in careless indolence or busies himself about small matters that tell little for the support of his family. He will sit for hours and chat with his sons or his neighbors upon matters of no great consequence. He takes things easy and enjoys himself while the wife and mother does the work which must be done to prepare food to eat and clothes to wear.
This brother is a poor man and always will be a burden to society unless he asserts his God-given privilege and becomes a man. Anyone can find work of some kind to do if he really desires it; but if he is careless and inattentive, the positions which he might have secured he will find filled by those who had greater activity and business tact.
God never designed that you, my brother, should be in the position of poverty that you are now in. Why did He give you that physical frame? You are just as responsible for your physical powers as your brethren are for their means. Some of these would today be gainers could they exchange their property for your physical strength. But if placed in your position, they would, by a diligent use of both mental and physical powers, soon be above want and owe no man anything. It is not because God owes you a grudge that circumstances appear to be against you, but because you do not use the strength He has given you. He did not intend that your powers should rust by inaction, but that they should strengthen by use.
The religion you profess makes it as much your duty to employ your time during the six working days as to attend church on the Sabbath. You are not diligent in business. You let hours, days, and even weeks pass without accomplishing anything. The very best sermon you could preach to the world would be to show a decided reformation in your life, and provide for your own family. Says the apostle: "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
You bring a reproach upon the cause by locating in a place, where you indulge indolence for a time and then are obliged to run in debt for provision for your family. These your honest debts you are not always particular to pay, but, instead, move to another place. This is defrauding your neighbor. The world has a right to expect strict integrity in those who profess to be Bible Christians. By one man's indifference in regard to paying his just dues, all our people are in danger of being regarded as unreliable.
"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." This refers to those who labor with their hands as well as to those who have gifts to bestow. God has given you strength and skill, but you have not used them.
Your strength is sufficient to abundantly support your family. Rise in the morning, even while the stars are shining, if need be. Lay your plans to do something, and then accomplish it. Redeem every pledge unless sickness lays you prostrate. Better deny yourself food and sleep than be guilty of keeping from others their just dues.
The hill of progress is not to be climbed without effort. No one need expect to be carried along to the prize, either in religious or secular matters, independently of his own exertions. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, yet he that dealeth with a slack hand will become poor. The persevering and industrious are not only happy themselves, but they contribute largely to the happiness of others. Competency and comfort are not ordinarily attained except at the price of earnest industry. Pharaoh showed his appreciation of this trait of character when he said to Joseph: If thou knowest any men of activity among them [Joseph's brethren], then make them rulers over my cattle."
There is no excuse for Brother -----, unless love of ease and inability to plan and set himself to work is an excuse. The best course for him now to pursue is to go from home and work under someone who shall plan for him. He has so long been a careless, indolent master over himself that he accomplishes but little, and his example before his children is bad. They have his stamp of character. They let mother bear the burdens. When asked to do anything, they will do it; but they do not cultivate, as all children should, the faculty of seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being told.
A woman does herself and her family a serious wrong when she does her work and theirs too-when she brings the wood and water, and even takes the ax to prepare the wood, while her husband and sons sit about the fire having a social, easy time. God never designed that wives and mothers should be slaves to their families. Many a mother is overburdened with care while her children are not educated to share the domestic burdens. As the result, she grows old and dies prematurely, leaving her children just when a mother is most needed to guide their inexperienced feet. Who is to blame?
Husbands should do all they can to save the wife care and keep her spirit cheerful. Never should idleness be fostered or permitted in children, for it soon becomes a habit. When not engaged in useful employment, the faculties either depreciate or become active in an evil work.
What you need, my brother, is active exercise. Every feature of your countenance, every faculty of your mind, is indicative of this. You do not love hard work nor to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow. But this is God's ordained plan in the economy of life.
You fail to carry through what you undertake. You have not disciplined yourself to regularity. System is everything. Do but one thing at a time, and do that well, finishing it before you begin a second piece of work. You should have regular hours for rising, for praying, and for eating. Many waste hours of precious time in bed because it gratifies the natural inclination and to do otherwise requires an exertion. One hour wasted in the morning is lost never to be recovered. Says the wise man: "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man."
Those who make any pretensions to godliness should adorn the doctrine they profess and not give occasion for the truth to be reviled through their inconsiderate course of action. "Owe no man anything," says the apostle. You ought now, my brother, to take hold earnestly to correct your habits of indolence, redeeming the time. Let the world see that the truth has wrought a reformation in your life.