Bible Reading:  Proverbs 23:1-35

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off”

[Proverbs 23:17-18]

Have you ever looked at sinners who seem to have a good life and then considered your own discipline and wondered if it is really worthwhile? The very fact that our verse today shows that this may be a distinct possibility! The discipline that is necessary for living a wise, balanced and godly life is clear in our chapter today. Overindulgence in drink [drunkards, verse 20-21, see also Proverbs 23:29-35], food [gluttons, verse 20 see also Proverbs 23:1-3], sleep [verse 21, see also Proverbs 10:15; 19:15] results in poverty. Even the excessive attempts to get rich indicate a misplaced discipline [verses 4-5].

Sometimes the best way to study God’s Word is to compare Scripture with Scripture. Let’s look at Psalm 73:1-13 in the New Living Translation:

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jewelled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” Look at these wicked people — enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?”

Let’s get back into focus. The wicked are lost and will be cut off. The things that they put their trust in will pass away. To keep your heart pure and to be zealous in honouring and reverence for God is the only way to be sure of a happy ending to life. Don’t look at others, however tempting it may be, because it will lead to envy! The wealth and glory of the ungodly are simply a vain show, but the more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. Even though Abraham was a wealthy man, he was still focusing on a heavenly home, a city whose builder and maker is God!

A Question:

Have you been giving into to the temptation to imitate those who are not followers of Jesus but seem to be successful? Has it compromised your walk with God? Come to the Lord today, ask for His forgiveness and get back into His way.

“Lord teach me Your way. Purify my heart and my motives.”