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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 10:4


Proverbs 10:4

"Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich"

poor is he who works with a negligent hand

The word poor is the word that refers to those who are destitute or have little or nothing. They have less than they really need. The principle here is that those who have less than they need have in some way been negligent. They had an opportunity to obtain what they needed, but at some point in the past they did not take advantage of that opportunity.

This clearly suggests that God has placed opportunity around us, and we are responsible for what we do with that opportunity. If we just expect others to provide for us, then we will be poor in some area that opportunity could have provided.

The word negligent is the word remiya which is the word used for slackening, sloth, looseness. When something is needed to be tight, this is loose. When something is needed to be diligently pursued, this is just followed with a half heart. Go after the opportunity that God puts in your pathway. If we do not work hard on the opportunities that God has given us, then we will find that we are destitute and not having what we really need to enjoy and live a fulfilled life. Some people do not have what they need to live a fulfilled life because when opportunity came their way, they were too busy doing something else to be bothered by it or they pursued it with only a half heart.

Personal responsibility is essential if one is to build a wise life. There are opportunities around you every day. Take advantage of those opportunities. Now these opportunities for a blessed life come disguised as problems, hard work, or service; it is not gathering baskets of money. There is a process of turning your opportunity into something usable in your life.

While this proverb is clear, a balancing principle is also needed to understand the poor or destitute in any major city. The balance to this principle is this one: abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor but injustice sweeps it away. There are opportunities that are given to everyone but the wickedness of some takes away that opportunity from those people. They never see that opportunity or are restricted from pursuing it.

but the hand of the diligent makes rich

The word diligent is charuts in the Hebrew and it is the word for sharp, decisive, diligent, and decision. This word is the key idea in this verse on the positive side. Diligent is contrasted with negligent. This word means one who is decisive and/or diligent. The translators chose to put the emphasis on the constant application of action and power, but the word also carries with it the idea of decisive, sharp, and clear actions that are unambiguous. Poor people are lazy procrastinators who do not take action; they do not continue to apply power to a situation over a long time. Their modus operandi is laid-back and tomorrow-oriented. The person who wants to have abundance must act constantly, consistently, and, at times, quickly. Solomon is telling us that we must be ready to take diligent and decisive action when opportunities come our way or they will be missed.

It will be interesting if we can play the tape of our lives and look back at the opportunities that we could have taken and how our lives would be different. The poor person misses most of these opportunities because they require work or decisive action. Don't let this be you. Develop the life which is diligent and decisive rather than the one that is always looking for the quick, easy score.

You may recognize your hand being negligent before you can see the opportunities that you are letting slip by. So ask yourself if you are becoming lazy; ask yourself if you are letting things be disorganized or incomplete too much.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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