Pull Question: Proverbs

As a part of my Torrey Honors Institute education, I was assigned a short writing assignment for every text we read, called a “Pull Question.” The idea was simple: pull together various concepts from a class session, and spend some more time writing or thinking about them. The professor would give a question or two at the end of each class, and you’ve have the semester to write about it (usually). Since old texts are important, and my study of them should not cease, we are starting a new series here at Evangelical Outpost. From time to time, we’ll post some of the Pull Questions we answered in our undergrad years. They’ll be edited, some context will be added, and they may be otherwise tweaked. The idea here is simple: our educations have changed us, and we believe they can change others as well. So without further non-pull-question writing, here is the first entry in the series:

Pull Question: Write 5 of your own proverbs. Write a brief reflection on the process of writing them.

1. Nobility never accomplished anything alone.

I formulated this proverb from a comment someone made recently: “That person’s attitude is very ‘noble.'” I concluded that nobility, while important, does not accomplish anything on its own. There is a double meaning, of course, which might refer to ancient power structures of nobility relying on the work of their peasants.

2. Action does not require reliance on a guaranteed reaction.

This actually stems from reading Hume, who argued that knowledge itself was extremely limited. We could not know that if we dropped a pen, it would fall, even though we’d observed it thousands of times. Observation could only tell us about the past; you cannot observe the future. My thought with this proverb is simply this: our actions need not depend on knowing the outcome.

3. Do not ignore the color of the car when seeking to purchase it.

We’ve been taught certain details are insignificant when making decisions: look at the function, not the form, to make a good decision. Does the car of air conditioning? Is it a manual or automatic transmission? Oh, right. I guess color matters too. Don’t think only on colors, but ignoring it completely seems foolish as well.

4. A rich man can choose to work or to not work after he has acquired his riches. A tired man is not capable of working.

I’ll be honest, I wrote this proverb because I was really tired.

5. Worry does nothing for anyone, except express deep care and concern.

The question I was wrestling with as I wrote this proverb is this: is a worrisome attitude always sinful, or is it sometimes beneficial for those who you worry for? Obviously worrying usually accomplishes little or nothing, but if my concern, my worry, demonstrates to another that I care, is there not some benefit?


Writing proverbs is tricky, of course, but considering how long ago I wrote this, I don’t think most of them are half bad. Give it a try, yourselves.

Image via Flickr.

Published by

J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).

  • Anonymous

    Hmm. If I may, I had some thoughts on your final proverb – actually, thoughts on the thoughts you had about it. I think that the “worry” described in the NT (i.e. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow ill worry about itself.” Matt. 6:34a) is not a form of concern, but rather an obsession with not being able to accept the uncertain.

    For instance, let’s assume my child has just obtained their drivers’ license and is going for their first drive. I, as a parent, may have concern for this inexperienced driver who is my child. But, I do not think this is sinful. If, however, I am consumed with it, spending every thought on it, then I am “worrying about tomorrow”.

    And even then, is this a commandment? In the same breath, earlier in the passage, Jesus talks about how the birds do not store up food in barns. Was He commanding us not to store up food in barns? I think it is fair to say no. Therefore, I feel as though “do not worry” is a general guideline. The less worry we have, the more faith we have. But worrying isn’t a sin.

  • jamesfarnold

    Good thoughts. The proverb (and my thoughts concerning it) are from years past, so I’m only now revisiting the subject.

    There are other passages that talk about the sort of worry I was thinking about (be anxious for nothing, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, etc.), even if they aren’t so direct.

    I’m not even sure about the worry in that situation. You’d have concern for your child, of course, but if ‘worry’ is dwelling on something you have absolutely no control over, maybe it is harmful (you could spend your thoughts and energy doing something productive, perhaps?), even if it isn’t sinful.

    I’m not sure if I want to say worrying is a sin. I do want to say that it is generally unhelpful, at least in the actual act of worrying, though expressing concern may be helpful/encouraging.

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