Let’s read Proverbs 23:4, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.” Let’s look at these two statements separately.

LABOUR NOT TO BE RICH – The desire to be rich is such a deceitful temptation. One verse that is familiar to most of us, but misquoted very often, is 1 Timothy 6:10, “For THE LOVE OF MONEY is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Notice that it is the LOVE OF MONEY that is condemned here. When the heart is filled with the desire to become more comfortable and powerful in the world, it naturally displaces our affections for the Lord. Again, money is not the problem, but our LOVE for money…that desire for more! 1 Timothy 6:9 warns us, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Even to those who are rich, Psalm 62:10 cautions, “…if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”

With that in mind, let’s consider Ephesians 4:28, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather LET HIM LABOUR, working with his hands the thing which is good, THAT HE MAY HAVE TO GIVE TO HIM THAT NEEDETH.” Rather than working so that we might be rich, the Lord would have us to work hard so that we can earn money to help others who are truly in need. We need money. We have to have money to survive. But if our hearts are set on gaining riches, then the results are sad indeed. As we read in 1 Timothy 6:10, those who love money have often “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” A good example of that is found in Luke 12:16-20, “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” As this man became richer and richer, his heart longed for more and more. He made provision for more material goods, but made no preparation for eternity.

CEASE FROM THINE OWN WISDOM – The wisdom (intelligence, understanding) of man says that riches are everything! To be rich is the reason we educate ourselves and work hard. To be rich is the goal of life! The Word is telling us here to STOP THINKING LIKE THAT! Going back to 1 Timothy, we read in chapter 6:11-12, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Take your eyes off the world’s pleasures and set them upon holy things. Get ahold of the truth and blessings of what it means to possess “eternal life”. We read in Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” All around us, we are told that riches are everything. Even some so-called ministers of God, praise the blessings of being rich. My friend, let us walk in God’s wisdom and stop thinking like the natural unregenerate people of the world.

The Lord warns us in John 6:27, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” When we spend our time and energy seeking to get that which is only material and temporary, we will miss the most important thing…everlasting life. But, you may ask, “Can’t I have both? Can’t I work hard to gain riches, but also have time for the Lord?” The Lord tells us in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (riches).” (265.4)