24 Diligent hands will rule,
but laziness ends in forced labor.
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
Here we are given a glimpse of the future, which applies to whatever stage of work you are in. Two paths are set before us, one of diligence and the other of laziness, and at first glance it seems obvious which is the more difficult. But these verses reveal that the path of laziness turns out to be the path of toil, as work can only be avoided for so long. Undone responsibilities do not simply vanish, instead they accumulate little by little with each passing day. The diligent focus on the work ahead and advance toward their goals, while the lazy are are burdened with what they can no longer avoid.
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Anxiety assumes two things; that I know what needs to happen and that God may not cooperate with my plan. Only the second is true, and hindsight shows us that often we are wrong in the first. In any case the temptation is to turn in on oneself, and lessen the tension through indulgence or distraction or addiction. But real comfort does not come through things but from people. We may not be able to change the circumstances, but we can choose not to isolate ourselves. The “kind word” may not solve the problem, but it does help to put it into perspective.