Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
–Proverbs 10:4

Thomas Edison once said, “Most of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success before they gave up.” Edison was talking about the quality of persistence. You may think people are successful in life because of their family connections, inherited wealth, talent, or good luck. But the Bible says no. What makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful people in life is persistence.

What is persistence? Persistence is the courage to continue pursuing your dream in spite of unexpected setbacks, undeserved criticism, and unrelenting hard work. President Calvin Coolidge has been quoted as saying, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are overwhelmingly powerful.”

Persistence is a very biblical concept. Look at what the book of Proverbs says about persistence. The synonym in the Bible for “persistence” is “diligence.” In Proverbs 10:4-5, Solomon said, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.” Foolish people think that opportunities in life are like trains: “No reason to get excited when an opportunity comes; there’ll be another one.” But the diligent person takes advantage of opportunities while he still can.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon had a lot to say about the benefits of persistence:

  • “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor” (12:24).
  • “The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (20:4).
  • “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; all day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back” (21:25-26).

Do you desire to be successful in your business? Do you desire to be successful in your family life? Do you want to have financial stability? Do you want to improve the most important relationship of all–your relationship with God? The key is persistence.

Notice that the contrast that Solomon draws in Proverbs is not between the gifted and the ungifted, the lucky and the unlucky, the beautiful and ugly, the rich and the poor. The contrast is between the persistent person, the diligent person and the lazy person. That is the difference. The persistent person is the one who is successful.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “To Succeed More, Fail More” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2013.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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