Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
A Warning to the Wise
Solomon instructs the reader (whom he calls "my son") to avoid doing business with bad men (whom he calls "sinners"). He advises the reader to not become a partner with these men (v.15), even though they would invite the reader to share one purse with them (v.14). According to Solomon, partnering with them is like falling into a snare (v.17). If the reader is wise, he should recognize the danger of joining these men and separate himself from them.
The Extent of Greed
These bad men, these "sinners," invite us to hurt innocent people. They seek to gang up on those who are alone and vulnerable to take advantage of them. The bad men are even willing to murder the innocent.
Let us consider for a moment and recognize that the bad men of which Solomon speaks are real. They are kidnappers, pimps, drug dealers, slave traffickers, and gangsters. They are men who destroy other people's lives to profit from them.
These men are motivated by greed. They would destroy others to steal their possessions because their values consist on wealth, pleasure, and power.
Solomon warns us that the path of these wicked and greedy men leads to destruction (v.18, 19). In the end, these men will pay for their evil choices.
After all, there is a universal and inescapable principle God has established: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7, KJV). Although these men do prosper in their evil ways, accumulating wealth and destroying the lives of others, their advance comes at great cost to their own lives.
What could that cost be? It is easy to imagine how these men cannot experience peace within themselves. They often find themselves persecuted by their own enemies or pursued by the law. Even their own families are sometimes affected by the violent world in which they live. Worst of all, they will have to give an account to God for all the wrong they have done.
One Lesson, Many Applications
Apart from teaching us to not do business with evil men, this Scripture also causes us to reflect on our own businesses. Do our businesses and our investments contribute to the wellbeing of others, or are they undermining society? Are we supporting causes that are just before God, or are we building our wealth through the exploitation of others?
Moreover, this passage also encourages us to examine what we regard as the highest good in life. Are we materialistic? Do we think that pleasure, power, and wealth are the best things this life can offer; or do we believe that a clear conscience, mercy, and justice are worth more than financial security. Is making an honest living better than acquiring riches through violence or dishonesty?
Finally, this proverb should also cause us to reflect on what we are teaching our own children. Have we really taken the time to teach them right values, or are we allowing their peers, television, and music to shape their perspective about life?
The Biblical Perspective
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5, KJV)
God calls his people to contentment. He wants us to be satisfied with those things He has provided us. He wants us to recognize that He takes care of our needs, and that the quality of our lives does not consist in how much wealth or how many goods we can tore, but on having a real and meaningful relationship with Him to satisfy our desire for meaning and fulfillment.
Greed and covetousness have no place in the life of Christ's disciples, who are called to love God with all their hearts and to love their neighbors as themselves.
Questions for Reflection or Discussion
1. Do you think greed can lead a person to commit murder? Do you think some business men or companies build up profit at the cost of other people's suffering? Do you know of any such cases?
2. Do you believe that kidnapping, prostitution, dealing drugs, trafficking with slaves, and participating in gangs is always wrong, or can it sometimes be right? Do you believe that right and wrong are real, or do you think moral values are relative?
3. Do you believe that God imposes consequences on us depending on the choices that we make? Do you believe that every person will have to give an account to God for the right and the wrong they have done in their lives?
4. What are the values you want to communicate to your own children in regards to treating other human beings and making money? How are you actively teaching your children the right values to live by?
5. How does your lifestyle reinforce contentment with what God has given you and faith in that God will provide for your needs? How does your lifestyle compare to a materialistic approach to life and a careless attitude toward the needs of others?
© 2017 Marcelo Carcach