Proverbs 18:9

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

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Men fail financially for two main reasons. Some are lazy – they are not as diligent or persistent to pursue their professions as they should be. They do not make as much income as they could have during their lives. The top half, or revenue side, of their income statements is too low. They fail to work hard enough when the going is good to maximize the amount of money coming in. Over many years they do not make enough to get ahead.

Others work hard and make lots of money, but they waste their higher income by letting it slip through their fingers. They risk it in foolish ventures or spend it for frivolous pleasures. The bottom half, or expense side, of their income statements is too high. Being weak in character and discipline – they cannot resist temptations to speculate or spend. They waste their higher incomes, so they do not get ahead either.

Lazy men that take care of their low income and few assets often despise the waste of hardworking men that have larger incomes. And diligent men that waste and squander their income often despise the slothfulness of lazy men that may be more frugal than they are. But these two men are brothers! Do you grasp Solomon’s ridicule? Both faults are sins; both faults bring financial trouble; both faults deserve shame. Both kinds of men are losers!

There is no virtue in diligence, if a diligent man wastes his greater productivity by foolish risk-taking and over-spending. And there is no virtue in frugal financial management, if the cautious man is too lazy to produce as much as he could. These men are brothers! They come from the same family – the family of financial and professional problems. They are both losers!

Reader, what is your temptation? Under-working? Over-spending? Or both? Either of these two financial errors will hurt you. Stop and consider your folly today. Rather than justify yourself by despising the man with the other fault, despise yourself by admiring the man without your fault. Make a change! Work harder! Waste less! Or do both! This is inspired wisdom from heaven from the pen of King Solomon for your financial prosperity.

Diligent men work hard. They apply themselves with effort and persistence. They rise rapidly in their professions; their income levels are high. But they often complain about the high cost of living, though the real problem is the cost of high living. They squander their income by excessive spending (Pr 12:27; 21:17,20; 23:20-21). They lose their assets by foolish speculation (Pr 6:1-5; 28:19-20,22). Solomon condemned both kinds of waste.

It does not matter how much a diligent man makes. Income is only one-half of the financial equation. It is equally important to find out how he invests or spends his income. Much higher revenues can disappear very quickly through foolish investments or wasteful spending. All that matters for financial success is what amount of income is left after all expenses – this is retained earnings or accumulated capital – the real measure of economic power. The lazy worker and the profligate spender are both financial losers.

Most men, corrupted by sin and usually short-sighted, increase spending at least as fast as income rises. Economists call this the propensity to consume. Solomon mocked higher income that only appears in an accounting ledger and quickly disappears to pay higher expenses (Eccl 5:11). It does not matter if you make 50% more this year than last, if you spend 50% more as well. You have likely raised your effort and risk for what? Nothing! Though the tax man will thank you!

It is fools that waste income by letting spending rise proportionate to income (Pr 21:17,20). Strong men retain riches, because they can resist the temptation of get-rich-quick scams and the advertising gimmicks to seduce their lusts (Pr 11:16). They do not care how Mr. and Mrs. Jones might be living. They have a financial plan – they work hard for it – and they will not allow foolish spending or investing to steal it from them.

Careful men are prudent. They will pinch a dime. They avoid most investments, for they trust nothing. They look for bargains; they live frugally. They do not take risks; they are content with little; they stretch a dollar. But they often have little, for they do not grasp the reward of hard labor (Pr 10:4; 12:11,27; 13:4; 20:4,13; 22:29). Neither do they understand the great leverage of wise investments (Pr 14:4). They apply the same stingy mentality at work – they pace themselves and work without passion. They are losers.

These two errors steal success from men. Are you slothful in your business? Or do you waste the increase from your labor? Or are you guilty of both? Hate both faults – for they are equally foolish sins. Be diligent and zealous in your efforts; be conservative in your spending, and waste nothing (Pr 12:27). Success and prosperity are not complicated or difficult, if you will learn the inspired wisdom here, put it into practice, and wait for its rewards.

Solomon taught two other financial rules that fit here. Consider them wisely. Financial success requires liberal giving to God and causes He approves (Pr 3:9-10; 11:24-26; 19:17; 28:27; Hag 1:2-11). Your prosperity also requires savings for God’s blessings, emergencies, and investments (Pr 6:6-8; 14:4; 21:20; 30:25). If these two additional rules are true (and they are!), then you must make even more and spend even less to be able to do them, thus the wisdom of this proverb becomes incredibly crucial. Thank you, God!

This proverb also applies to your soul. Lazy Christians seldom bear fruit or gain a return on God’s grace given to them (Luk 8:11-12; 13:6-9; 19:23-27). They squander the opportunity to know God and please Him with their lives. Wasteful Christians hear the word and rejoice and may be active, but they waste their lives chasing the world (Luk 18:14; Phil 3:18-19; I Tim 6:6-10). Paul was neither – he served Jesus with all his might, and he did not waste a day playing like others (I Cor 15:10; II Tim 4:7). Follow his example!