The hand of the diligent shall bear rule

Work is a commandment. Whether it is punishment or a reward, that is an entirely different issue, but it is an irrefutable fact that one must work. Our Lord Jesus Christ worked hard since His youth. “We must never forget that Christ was a worker and the adopted son of a worker. It must not be hidden that He was born into a poor family among people that lived off their own work, and that before He was to appear in all His glory, He earned His living with His own two hands: the hands that blessed the poor in spirit, healed the lame and blind, raised from the dead, the same hands that were nailed to the cross. They were the same hands that were covered in sweat after a hard day’s work, hands that hurt after working, hands that became callous from so much hard work, hands that hammered nails into wood, the hands of a craftsman.” (G. Pappini, “The History of Christ, page 41)

Later we also see Christ working night and day, walking from one town to another, preaching, teaching, healing… The Holy Scriptures are in reality a journal of Christ’s hard work. At the very end of His difficult mission, Christ turns to His Father with the words, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4

The Holy Scriptures abound with praise of work and workers. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24) says Solomon. In several places throughout the Scripture he emphasizes the value of work and praises diligent workers. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29) St. Paul the apostle also tells Christians to be diligent and to work, “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11) Solomon leaves very little time for rest. At every moment we must decide what is more profitable to do. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6

As much as diligence and work are praised, so, too is laziness condemned. Solomon says, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4) He puts forth the example of an ant. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8

All of the apostles worked hard besides engaging in their apostolic mission. They were mostly craftsmen. St. Paul shows his callous hands to those present and says, “You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.” (Acts 20:34) In his first epistle to the Thessalonians he writes, “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9) And in his second epistle to the Thessalonians he explains why they engaged in such efforts. The reason was to offer an example. “Nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9

The holy scriptures do not deny the right of those who work to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Every laborer is worthy of his food, (Matthew 10:10) says Christ. Apostle Paul says that the farmer who toils should be the first to taste of his fruits (2 Timothy 2:6) Solomon says, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19) Solomon even emphasizes that work is healthy. “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:12

Apostle Paul sounds a little out of the ordinary when he says, “”If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) However, when we reflect on it, we wee that he is right.