A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes one rich.

Proverbs 10:4 ESV

Maybe you’re like me and have been lazy a time (or twenty) in your life?

While we all have our moments, today’s verse puts our feet to the fire. It guides us to the mirror of self-reflection. It forces us to ask and answer this question, “Is laziness a regular pattern in my life?”

Now, Proverbs has endless wisdom on the value of hard work. But also has surprise insight about laziness.

The “slack hand” in the first clause is easy to understand on its surface. Being lazy doesn’t help success.

However, there’s a deeper meaning to this word. The Hebrew root means “to desert, abandon, or betray.”

So Solomon is saying that a slack hand misses out on the reward of hard work BY betraying responsibility.

Hard Work in Proverbs (and Genesis 1)

This may sound harsh, but let’s consider the model for work God gave us at creation.

How did the Lord set the foundations of the earth? By wisdom (Proverbs 3:19). And does wisdom have a slack hand? Does wisdom desert or abandon her work before it’s completed? Did God do a half-hearted job creating the universe and everything in it?

No!

What Hard Work Doesn’t Mean

While there is a strong warning against laziness, though, we also must resist taking the lesson too far in the other direction.

Again, if use God’s leadership as an example, did he model unending work? Does he give us a pattern of seven days at the office? Or of checking work emails constantly, even into the late hours of the night? Or holding conference calls and neglecting family time?

No!

On the seventh day God rested.

Here’s the model we learn both in today’s verse and in God’s example of work:

  1. When it’s time to work, work.
  2. When it’s time to rest, rest.

These are excellent guard rails for me in both work and pursuing my calling. And I hope they are for you, too.

How does this lesson in hard work from Proverbs challenge you most? To work diligently or to rest worshipfully?


Today’s devotion by Jordan Loftis, author of two bestselling books, Today We Win and The Men With Bare Feet, host of The Bible Better Podcast, and editor of Short Daily Devotions.