Reading the Word
Proverbs 23:4–5 (NRSV)
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist.
5 When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes wings to itself, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Be careful what you focus your priorities on. Many will spend their entire lives accumulating wealth. This may seem like the correct thing to do. We need wealth to survive and we do not want to struggle financially later in life, so we spend our younger years working and accumulating as much as possible. There needs to be a balance.
As today’s reading tells us, riches have a way of suddenly disappearing. We can spend all of our time accumulating only to see it all vanish before our eyes. What use then was all of that spent time? All it takes is one accident or one illness or one scam artist or bad investments or some other thing to happen and our wealth is gone. Yes, we need to live wisely and prepare for the future, but riches cannot be the thing we wear ourselves out for. Instead, we need to follow Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:19-21:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We need to invest in people and relationships and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are the things worth wearing ourselves out for. So save and invest your finances wisely, but do not make the accumulation of riches the primary focus of your life. It can all disappear in the blink of an eye.
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