Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
Riches are not evil in themselves. The Bible does not teach that money is the root of all evil, but that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1Timothy 6:10). Throughout Proverbs, Solomon listed instructions that will increase our chances of being successful. He speaks of honesty, integrity, and diligence, while warning against folly, laziness and getting involved with the wrong people.
That being said, Solomon also warns against thinking that money will solve all of our problems. He writes poetically of the inability of riches to really meet our deepest needs. He states that riches make wings and fly away. Have you ever watched a young child attempting to catch a butterfly? With each step the child takes toward the winged creature, it simply flies off to the next bush. Step after step, she thinks she almost has it, but again and again it simply flies away. Riches are like that. In one sense, they are aloof, but we think with just a little more work we will finally catch them. If memory serves me, it was Rockefeller who, when asked how much money was enough, responded, “just a little more than you have.”
There is another sense in which riches have wings. Not only are they difficult to catch, but riches will never provide what they promise. Often, we think that the solution to our problem is cash. If we had a few more dollars we could get out of debt, take that vacation we always wanted, replace the hunk-of-junk car we drive, or a host of other things. While I would agree that having is more fun, than not having, we all must realize riches have wings and cannot satisfy the real issues of life. The headlines remind us of that. We often read of wealthy actors, entertainers, athletes or business men, who have marital or substance abuse problems, are on anti-depressants or even take their lives. The reason is, riches have wings. They are unable to meet the deepest needs in the heart of man. In contrast to this Solomon writes,
Proverbs 23:18 “For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.”
The real solution to the issues of life, is a spiritual one. We need to realize, we will only be satisfied when we are in a right relationship with God. Jesus promised, all who received Him would have torrents of living water rushing through their lives (John 7:38), providing peace, joy, and love for God and others. We need to be sure, while we are in pursuit of “getting ahead,” we do not neglect to make investments in our relationship with the Lord.
As the new year approaches, resolve to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, make daily investments in your walk with Him by reading the Word, and commit to regular attendance at a good Bible teaching church.
Questions for Proverbs 23
1. Verses 1-3 are a poetic description of the need for self-control. What areas do you need to apply self-control to your life?
2. According to verse 17 what do we need to guard our hearts against?
3. Verse 29-35 speaks to the folly of alcohol or substance abuse. What do we learn about the danger of being under these influences?
4. Choose a favorite verse from this chapter and write out your thoughts on how to apply it to your life.