Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. 5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. Proverbs 23:4-5
God is not against people becoming wealthy. There are people in the history of the Bible who became wealthy because of God's specific blessing upon them. So God is not "anti-wealth" as some people would suppose. But, He is concerned with how people view money and wealth - and to be more specific how they pursue it. That is where the real danger lies.
Don't weary yourself to gain wealth. There is the first principle God puts before us. The word weary means to become weary with work. It indicates that the person is putting forth great effort and exhausting exertion to try to accomplish something. It should probably be noted here that God is for hard work. He wants us to work hard at the things we do. He wants us to offer excellence and effort to our jobs and in the things we do for Him and for others. The Lord is not encouraging laziness here. He is saying that those who put forth exhausting labor with the ultimate goal being to become wealthy are focusing on the wrong goal. I remember working at UPS in Seminary and watching one of my supervisors live this way. His goal in life was to work so hard when he is young, that he could retire when he was 45 as a millionaire. This poor guy was always at work. He had a wife and a couple of kids - but from the way he spoke of them to us - they were just obstacles to him getting where he wanted to go. I've watched men like this who labor so hard to become rich. They reach their goal - but find out that the loss of their marriage and the fact that their kids have no respect for them - costs far more than the millions they have to spend in their old age.
Proverbs tells us next that we are to cease from our consideraton of becoming wealthy. An interesting word is used for "consideration" here. It means to think hard about something. The result of this thinking should be a proper discernment of it. But according to what is being said here God is warning us against making wealth the thing we consider and think hard about in life. There are those who constantly chase the illusive goal of being rich. They read books about it - they listen to tapes that promise them the way to get there - they listen to radio shows that promise them that if they do what this man says - they'll be rich. There is even a "chrisitanized" version of this thinking. The health/wealth/prosperity teaching promises that God Himself is nothing but a divine sugar daddy. If we treat Him right - and confess the right things - we'll be rich! Wonder how that works for persecuted Christians behind the bamboo curtain who are in jail for their faith. If they confess the right words and really have faith, they'll get twice the gruel that their cellmate receives?
God wants us to have our minds fixed on other things than our own financial bottom line. If we truly had discernment we'd know that our bank account will matter only in how we used it for God's glory. Our "consideration" should be of the Lord Himself and what His will is for us in life. To have a constant consideration of wealth is to waste our minds on things that are not eternal.
There is another reason we should not be chasing wealth. That reason is that wealth is often illusive. In the simplest terms - take the example of the guy buying lottery tickets thinking he is going to win and get rich. This proves two things - first, this guy is not very good at Math - and second, he is focused on the wrong things. He thinks that money will solve his problems. If he only took the time to study previous big winners of the lottery he'd learn that it usually causes more problems than it solves. Then there is the person who is chasing the illusive goal of inventing something that will make him rich. Too often the inventions don't pan out and the guy pursuing them for wealth winds up broke - and broken because of his failure to "make it to the big time."
Wealth takes wings like an eagle -flying off into the heavens. What a picture for us to remember! This is true in so many ways. What was just covered is one of the ways that wealth takes wings - but there is another that is even more important for us to remember. Ask a rich man how much money he needs to be content. His answer will be, "Just a little more than I have now." That is the most deceptive part of wealth. When we "get there" to our stated goal - we'll find it is not enough to bring peace and satisfaction to us. So, we figure we'll set our goal a little higher - only to find that when we get there we still don't feel satisfied. Some folks spend their entire lives chasing the eagle as it soars higher and higher into the air. They die richer than they ever dreamed - but learning that the dream becomes a nightmare because of the lack of satisfaction in their wealth.
One last thing needs to be said of a life spent chasing after wealth and riches. The ultimate bummer for the rich man is when he dies. He leaves everything behind. There are no "rich people" in heaven or hell. The basis of success or ultimate failure has to do with being able to stand before God in the judgment. Jesus tells the story of the rich farmer who has a bumper crop. He wonders what to do with his untold wealth. He finally decides that he will tear down his barns and build bigger ones. Then he will store his abundance and say to his soul that he has much wealth and can rest. Jesus' words here are frightening. He says, "You fool! Tonight your soul is required of you - and how will mere wealth help you?" We can be as wealthy as 10 Solomons - and still find ourselves eternally impoverished if we don't have forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. We can chase wealth into the heavens like that eagle - only to find that iin the end the descent into infinite poverty lasts not a human lifetime - it lasts for all eternity. Here true wisdom - be rich toward God - that wealth will last beyond what can be stolen or rust away.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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