Proverbs 23:4

Do not wear yourself out to become rich;
be wise enough to restrain yourself.

As you may (or may not) recall, when I was in High School, I worked in a pizza shop. It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about responsibility and diligence. I also learned about building relationships with lots of different kinds of people – most of whom didn’t spend much, if any time in church. It is one of the things that shaped me as a young adult. It’s also one of the reasons I recommend teens get a job.

There was a season, toward the end of my time there when things got busy. The place had been a pick-up and delivery store only. Then the owner bought an old store and converted it into a sit-down restaurant. It was a really busy time.

There was one thing that didn’t happen though. The owner didn’t hire any extra workers to step up to the new level of work we’d be doing. As a result, there were some of us who worked a lot when the store first opened. We’d work from 8 in the morning to 11 at night. And on weekends we’d work until midnight or 1 in the morning. We worked well over 120 hours that first or second week. As I recall I ended up working 139 hours that week.

On the way home from work on the last night of that crazy week, I decided to take a different way home. For some reason, I went out to the highway. And I fell asleep while I was driving. It just so happened that I fell asleep on the only straight stretch of that road. And I woke up just before the road turned. If I had gone home the other way and fallen asleep, I probably would have been going through an intersection or into someone’s house.

I wore myself out. I was burned. I did it to make some extra money to take with me to college. And while I am a proponent of working hard, there is a too hard. And when you’re killing yourself to get rich, you will never feel very rewarded. I remember getting my check that week. It was quite a bit bigger than normal. But, it wasn’t that big. And I remember feeling like I had given way more than I was being paid for. Those 139 hours were probably worth more with my family than I was getting reimbursed for.

And that’s the point. We have to be wise enough to restrain ourselves when we’re working. Yes, we should be diligent. Yes we should be wise with our money. But, we should also know when to restrain ourselves. We need to know when other things are more important. We need to know when we’re sacrificing something extremely important to get something that is worth very little.

If you’re working 139 hours a week, it’s probably time to restrain yourself from pursuing money and time to start pursuing the more important things in life. And it’s through wisdom that we understand the difference.