Steady and persevering activity; painstaking effort; diligence; zeal. Commonly the term implies lawful and useful labor. It is the opposite of slothfulness or idleness.
In the Bible the Greek word that is translated “industriousness” is more often rendered “earnestness,” “real earnest,” or “earnest effort.” The sense of the word is also sometimes conveyed by the translation “haste,” “speed,” or “business.”
Christians are admonished not to slack their hands or become weary in well doing. Paul said: “We desire each one of you to show the same industriousness [literally, “speed up”] so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:11, 12; compare Pr 10:4; 12:24; 18:9.) Jesus Christ told his disciples: “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.” (Lu 13:24) Paul himself was an example of such rigorous exertion. (Col 1:29; 2Th 3:7-9) Jehovah and his Son are, of course, the foremost examples of industriousness.—Joh 5:17; Isa 40:26.
To prevent their being inactive or unfruitful, Christians must ‘contribute in response [to God’s promises] all earnest effort’ in supplying to their faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love. (2Pe 1:4-8) This calls for the constant application of industrious perseverance (2Ti 2:15; Heb 4:11) and unflagging attention. (Heb 2:1) Much of the strength for this comes through the help of Jehovah’s spirit. What could more strongly express the need for industriousness than the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Do not loiter at your business. Be aglow with the spirit. Slave for Jehovah”? This requirement of industriousness applies to all ministers (“let us be at this ministry”), but with special force to those in positions in which they preside over meetings and activities in the congregation, for “he that presides, let him do it in real earnest.”—Ro 12:7, 8, 11.
In the Christian congregation, needy ones receiving material help from the congregation must be industrious ones. The Scriptural rule is: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” The exhortation to those not working is that they get busy, “that by working with quietness they should eat food they themselves earn.” (2Th 3:10-12) A professed Christian who refuses or neglects to provide for his household “has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1Ti 5:8) Even widows who were needy, before being put on the congregation’s list for regular provision of material assistance, had to have a record of Christian activity, having “diligently followed every good work.”—1Ti 5:9, 10.
Rewards of Industriousness. Rich rewards come to the industrious person both now and in the future. “The hand of the diligent one is what will make one rich.” (Pr 10:4) “The hand of the diligent ones is the one that will rule.” (Pr 12:24) Their soul “will be made fat.” (Pr 13:4) The industrious wife is one whose “sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her.” Of her, it is proclaimed: “Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.” (Pr 31:28, 31) Above all, the spiritual brothers of Christ are told: “Do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves; for if you keep on doing these things you will by no means ever fail. In fact, thus there will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2Pe 1:10, 11.