Industriousness is the quality of mind and heart that makes one busily and usefully active. This definition shows that it consists of three parts: (1) activity, which is the chief ingredient of industriousness; (2) diligence; if one’s work is done without his being busy, or if his work is done lazily, sleepily, indifferently, unenergetically or slowly, one could not be called industrious; and (3) usefulness; many people are busily active, yet they work to no purpose, hence their busy activity accomplishes nothing or next to nothing.
Industriousness may be either secular or religious. We will only consider religious industriousness, whose sphere of activity is in one’s own mind, heart and will and toward others’ minds, hearts and wills. In the mind, it bends its energies to understand the generalities and the details of the Truth of God’s Word. He is also diligent to retain the knowledge of the Truth already gained. He then adds reasoning thereon, and by doing so he develops a well-reasoned-out grasp of the Truth in its generalities and details.
Furthermore, he adds love for the Truth to its study as just described; which not only gives him a better hold on it, but it also makes it the power of God working in his responsive heart rightly to keep it. He then uses his will power to increase the understanding, remembering, reasoning on and loving the Truth, so that it becomes a living power in one.
The true and loving heart, having been refreshed by the Truth, delights in sharing it with others. And such sharing increases the imparter’s perceptive, reasoning and memory faculties. The Lord in appreciation, doubtless rewards such industriousness by giving such fuller insights into its heights, depths, lengths and breadths.
This religious industriousness will manifest itself also in practicing the Truth that one learns and gives to others; for the main purpose in the Lord giving us the Truth and its accompanying privileges is to develop in us the Divine love out of a pure heart, a good conscience and an undissembled faith (1 Timothy 1: 5).
Some Examples of Industriousness
God’s people vary in their degree of industriousness. Beyond all comparison, Jesus was the most industrious of all God’s servants on earth; for during but 3 years of ministry He wore out fully 99% of His perfect vitality, while Adam, before he sinned, having the same perfection as Jesus had, endured the rigors of the curse for 928 years before he died.
The Apostle Paul’s activity, which was at least as great as that of all the other Apostles combined, was also one of high degree. Arius was full of activities as author of both prose and poetry, as well as an orator, preacher, teacher and debater. In the 28 years of Luther’s particular reformatory work, he did almost as much by preaching, teaching, lecturing, writing, counseling and organizing as perhaps any other man that ever lived did in 28 years.
John Wesley was a man of amazing industry. Besides writing 12 royal octavo volumes, he condensed the writings of others into 60 royal octavo volumes; travelled, mainly on horseback or in carriages, 250,000 miles; preached between 40,000 and 50,000 times; managed the work of several hundred circuit riders and lay preachers; superintended hundreds of churches (called societies); and built hundreds of chapels, besides doing much pastoral work and engaging in numerous controversies.
The Abuses of Industriousness
Industriousness can be and has been abused by: (1) overdoing it, by keeping too much and too long at but one thing; this can be overcome by varying one’s work; (2) underdoing it, which creates leisure of an injurious sort; this can be overcome by making oneself more zealous to work; (3) being busy in useless things; this can be cured by cultivating practicability; and (4) attempting to do that for which one is not talented to perform; such should curb their ambition to attempt that for which they have little or no talents, and instead seek to do that for the Lord, the brethren and others for which they are fit. Of course, industriousness in evildoing is an abuse of it, and should be slain by abhorrence, avoidance of and opposition to it.