At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: But the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.Proverbs 13:4
A lazy man can want the fruit of having labored without having a willingness to do the actual work itself. In other words, for our sinful nature there is a certain allure in the words of the Big Rock Candy Mountain—that place where there are plenty of cigarette trees and the hens lay soft-boiled eggs.
This proverb teaches us that aversion to work is not a damper to feelings of ambition. There is ambition, all right, but it is disconnected from an apt understanding of cause and effect. This means that ambition, unrestricted by any contact with reality, swells up to an enormous size. The lazy man wants and wants, and he desires some more, but in the gracious providence of God, it comes up short. He “hath nothing.” The ESV and the NASB both render “desireth” here as craves. There is an inverse relationship between how much he wants and how much he gets. He wants it all, and he gets none of it.
But flip this around. The soul of the diligent, it says, shall be made fat. The plain implication is Solomon’s praise of deferred gratification. The soul of the diligent is made fat precisely because it is willing for lean times now. If you tighten the belt now, you can let the belt out later. If you grab for everything you can get in the present, you will be forced into belt-tightening measures later.
Both the lazy man and the diligent man have desires. The diligent man postpones gratification of those desires, which is why those desires are eventually gratified. The man who does not postpone gratification, the man who wants it all now, is thwarted in his desire. He winds up with nothing. If you embrace nothing now, you get something later. If you embrace something now, you get nothing later.