“Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven…Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” (Proverbs 23:4-5; 28:6)
Do you heed warnings for wisdom or are you cynical, disregarding warnings? Do you pay attention (obey) some warnings but not others, depending on their source? Does the idea of obeying your superiors, or government and church leaders rub you the wrong way? Many adults are distrustful and question leaders today, especially compared to older generations. During their journeying in the wilderness, the Israelites were guilty of many sins, two among them being idolatry and disobedience toward Moses, their leader. When they came into the Promised Land, God’s people continued in their stubborn ways until the Lord removed them from the land. Most people today are unafraid of consequences for sin. Christians are held to the biblical standard, having the help of the Holy Spirit to redirect our will into obedience. But I’m afraid we don’t pay enough attention to the circumstances, leaders, and events that the Lord uses to warn us of our rebelliousness, even as we study God’s Word, which is full of warnings.
Proverbs is a rich source of advice and lessons for Christians, who should be heeding them, watching for their outworking in our lives. This week we will explore some biblical admonitions about money as we continue our study of financial stewardship. God is the owner of everything, created us to use everything for his glory, and is faithful to guide us in the stewardship of our finances. In Proverbs 23:4-5, we are warned to not work solely for money, which will fly away after we have accumulated it. Many have disregarded such wisdom, arguing that it is extreme and unreasonable. However, Proverbs also warns us, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (3:7) There are many justifiable reasons for Christians to work, but working merely to accumulate as much money as possible for its own sake will lead to all kinds of trouble. As Proverbs 28 states, it is better to be in need with integrity than to be rich with “crooked ways.”
In the Bible, there are two paths we can take, the straight way or the crooked way. God’s way or path is the straight one, leading to wisdom with discernment. Proverbs calls on us to use our discretion to resist the temptation to seek money for money’s sake. Those of us who are workaholics know how easy it is to fall into the pattern of working too much while neglecting our families, church, communities, and other vital relationships. Why do we do it? What excuse do we offer for our over-work? Being a lover of work is closely related to being a lover of money and should serve as a warning against focusing on a singular aspect of life without regard for other matters and relationships.
How will you spend your time today? Will it be work or ministry for more than seven or eight hours? How can you wisely portion out your time to attend to those whom God has brought into your life? Will you heed this warning about becoming so absorbed by work that you have stopped enjoying your life and those in it?