Does wealth entice you? Do you want to be rich? I’ll be honest with you, I do. It seems to me that life would be so much easier if we had more money. And I don’t mean just a little more, I mean the kind where I never have to worry about money again. You know, win the publishers clearing house, $5,000 per week for life. Is that too much to ask?
The real question is, am I willing to give up everything I am and believe in to get it? Am I willing to sell my soul to pay for my easy life.
When I first read todays passage from Proverbs, my first thought was, “Seriously? Who would go with someone whose first proposition was to shed blood? Nobody would go along with that. And who wants to go and steal from someone? Certainly not someone who is trying to seek wisdom!”
But, then as I thought about it a little more, I thought about what we are willing to give up in order to pursue riches. I mean, what will you give up in the pursuit of wealth?
The hinge verse, in my opinion, of this passage is verse 17: “Surely it is futile to spread a net in plain sight of any bird.” What does that even mean? For one, it’s a proverb, and that’s exactly what we’re learning about! It’s also why I love proverbs of all kinds, because they can contain so much meaning in such a small phrase. They’re very efficient that way!
What the teacher is saying is the bird, a much simpler creature than we, is smart enough to see a trap and fly away. They, in their very limited intellect, are able to see the trap that awaits if they go after the food and know that it’s not worth it. Either that or, the teacher is saying don’t be like the bird. That’s also what can be confusing about proverbs…
So, let’s try a different analogy. How about a mouse trap. I’m guessing we’ve all had the unfortunate privilege of having an unwanted mouse in our house. We had that blessing in our garage a couple of years ago. We started noticing the “evidence” of our unwanted visitor and knew something needed to be done. So, I bought a pack of traps and set a couple. And caught a couple. And a couple more. Plus the one that got stuck in the dog food can and couldn’t jump out that I caught in an old butter tub.
Think about those mice, they see the “bait” and think “I’ve got to have it!” So they do and then they…well you know. Certainly they can see the trap, but they go after the bait anyway. Perhaps they don’t realize what the trap really is.
Either way, whether the bird is smart enough to fly away, or willing to risk its life to get the food neither is what we want to be. We don’t want to sacrifice our family for wealth. We don’t want to sacrifice our friends and relationships and we certainly don’t want to sacrifice our integrity. We know that, but how often do we still go after it? We take little steps, and before we know it, we are several floors away from where we used to be, and who we were is not even close to who we are.
So, today, let’s heed the words of the proverb:
“10 My child, if sinners try to entice you,
do not consent!
11 If they say, “Come with us!
We will lie in wait to shed blood;
we will ambush an innocent person capriciously.
12 We will swallow them alive like Sheol,
those full of vigor like those going down to the Pit.
13 We will seize all kinds of precious wealth;
we will fill our houses with plunder.
14 Join with us!
We will all share equally in what we steal.”
15 My child, do not go down their way,
withhold yourself from their path;
16 for they are eager to inflict harm,
and they hasten to shed blood.
17 Surely it is futile to spread a net
in plain sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood,
they ambush their own lives!
19 Such are the ways of all who gain profit unjustly;
it takes away the life of those who obtain it!”