Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reflections on Proverbs: A Slack Hand

Many of the Proverbs deal with wealth, money, work, and poverty. Let's start with a very straightforward one:

A slack hand causes poverty,
   but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4

On the literal level, this proverb seems fairly accurate to life, don't you think? If you're lazy, unwilling to work, you will certainly have a hard time paying your bills, and if you willingly work hard, you are much more likely to have what you need and probably a lot of what you want.

We can, of course, think of exceptions to this rule...especially in today's economy. Think about the children of the very rich. Their hands may be as slack as dead fish, but they will never want for wealth. Think about the hard worker who suffers a disabling accident. She may be as diligent as she can be, but her disability will likely drag down her economic situation.

Still, as a general rule, Proverbs 10:4 works pretty well.

What happens, however, if we stretch beyond the literal with this verse? Doesn't its advice not to be lazy apply to all sorts of endeavors in life? Think of the divorce rate. How many divorces come from "slack hands" in a marriage? Certainly not all divorces--plenty result from truly bad behavior or legitimate differences. But I've watched several marriages fall apart over far, far less than infidelity or differences of opinion about having children.

Some couples just get lazy, take each other for granted, let love slip into mere tolerance or even open contempt, and then toss in the towel.

A slack hand causes poverty of love and partnership.

Those of us who've been married a while know how much hard work it is to overcome irritation at petty things, to compromise and to pay attention, to forgive and to encourage, to work through troubles and to keep moving forward. Two diligent hands--or hearts--working at maintaining love cause marriage to be richer and more stable.

Other areas of life follow this same advice quite neatly, especially our spiritual life. Get slack with prayer and your prayer life suffers. Work diligently at serving others, and you will certainly be rewarded.

Over the next week, think about the many areas in our lives that suffer poverty when we get lazy about them. Think about those areas that stay rich when we give them due diligence. Where do you need to be more diligent in your life?

An Invitation to Share: If you feel moved to do so, please share your reflections in the comments. You never know when your thoughts will spark someone else to deeper understanding or discovery!


  1. Andy Stanley says "Falling in love takes a pulse. Staying in love takes a plan."
    If we put half as much effort into our marriage as we did our dating, we we would be better off.

  2. Thanks for sharing that quotation, tala1947! It's a good one!

  3. Thank you for the fresh look at this verse. Very true -- if you don't give your marriage time, you won't have much of a marriage. If you don't spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, you won't have much of a relationship with God.

  4. Thank you, Beth! I'm also thinking this applies equally well to housework, laundry, and weeds in the yard. Small stuff, big stuff...slack hands aren't good hands!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!