Riches can be a great tool to use for God’s glory. Working hard and prospering in our labors are fulfilling ways to glorify God and help others. Wanting a career where you can earn good money to provide for your family and be able to give abundantly to your church and other ministries – this is a noble goal for all young people. But Proverbs warn us that wanting money just to have a lots of stuff for ourselves is a dangerous waste of our lives. It’s a pointless effort because when you die, all of your stuff will stay behind; you cannot take your material wealth with you to the next life. But it’s also dangerous because the love of money can ruin your soul. Jesus constantly warned people not to make a god out of riches because your heart only has room for one Lord – either God or stuff. Greed will cause us to lose concern for both God and our neighbors. For some, their greed even keeps them from seeing their need for eternal salvation (remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16?).
The main idea of today’s passage is found in verses 4-5. But verses 1-3 and 6-8 show us what happens to people who have devoted their whole lives to earning and worshiping riches. They become selfish, cruel misers (think Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”). We must be careful around such people because they don’t really care about you or anyone else; they only care about themselves and their money. Do you really want to become that kind of person? Then be on guard against every form of greed, for your life does not consist of the abundance of your possessions. Focus on loving God and people, and you will store up riches in heaven that will last for all eternity.
The Text (Proverbs 23:1-8)
1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you;
2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.
4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!
5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies;
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.
8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.
Questions to Think About
- Do you struggle with greed and a love of stuff? Do you ever find yourself thinking more about your stuff than about Jesus and others? Would your friends describe you as generous or selfish?
- Do you know what kind of career you want to pursue? Is your choice based mainly on how much money you hope to make, or do you have other reasons for wanting to do that type of work? Have you thought about seeking God’s will for your future career?