Discernment will protect you from becoming a workaholic for wealth.

Ten years ago, the values of homes and stocks plummeted as the housing bubble popped. Many people lost significant amounts from their retirement accounts and significant investments, their homes, seemingly overnight. When wealth can disappear so quickly, is it worth spending all our energy for it? There is virtue in hard work, but not when it is done for the purpose of wealth that disappears. Wisdom is more valuable than any material treasure. Proverbs 23:4-5 teaches us that wisdom or discernment protects us from becoming workaholics to gain wealth.

A discerning person will work hard for the right reasons.

Riches can be a blessing from God (Proverbs 10:4, 22). Wealth gained unbiblically is a curse (Proverbs 28:6, 20). When God instituted work in the Garden of Eden, it was a gift and a joy. In the subsistence agricultural society of ancient Israel, wealth did not mean luxury. A wealthy person was actually able to provide for his family reliably and even leave something to his children. Then and now, righteous and sinful wealth may look the same on the outside, but the motive is different. Are you working hard to provide for your family and others, or are you working hard for yourself?

There are certain pursuits where it is good to wear ourselves out. The first is to acquire wisdom (Proverbs 8:10-21). Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge in the appropriate time.

It is also good to work hard for souls. The state of our own soul is of primary importance (Mark 8:36). Our spouse and children, if we have them, are our next priorities (Ephesians 5:22-33, Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Then we must be concerned about the souls of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Philippians 2:3-4) and people who do not know Christ. Christians have the additional burden to care for souls in the midst of challenging circumstances.

Don't mentally wear yourself out by scheming for wealth. Our standards for "how much is enough" are usually set by other people. We measure ourselves compared to others. In the end, material wealth is not satisfying to our souls (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

A discerning person grasps the short-lived nature of wealth.

Wealth is not permanent. Others consume it (Ecclesiastes 5:11-12). It can be stolen or lose value or simply disappear (Matthew 6:19-21). The Christian who values eternal things will be at odds with the world. Although it is insanity to value the temporary over the eternal, we seem deluded to value invisible things over what we can see. But rest assured that eternal rewards and our influence on souls will never fly away like material wealth.

What the Christian can enjoy, in contrast to the world, is contentment (Philippians 4:11-12). We are stewards, and our stuff is really God's (1 Timothy 6:6-10). We value perseverance. This mindset protects us from self-inflicted wounds in the pursuit of wealth.

Application Points

  • Discernment regarding wealth is best decided at a young age. Teens, do the habits you are forming prioritize money or people? Parents, help your children prioritize souls over wealth. Singles, how do you use your time? Fight the temptation to build your own wealth or career more than you invest in souls at your local church.
  • How much is enough? Our standard of living is often based on comparison with others. What are you sacrificing for your standard of living? Is it worth it?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 – Undistracted devotion to the Lord is a blessing of being single.
  • Matthew 6:24-34 – Don't wear yourself out for wealth. God will take care of your needs.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Hymn Title"

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.