It's an understatement to say things have changed over the last century. Air travel not only became a reality, but thousands fly internationally everyday, something only millionaires thought of even 50 years ago.
Communication has gone from wired to wireless. McDonald's only sold burgers and fries in the beginning, but now offer salads and lattes. Cats and dogs can eat gourmet food now, while millions scrounge for the next meal, living at subsistence level poverty.
It seems like things have changed a lot, even over the last decade, but maybe not as much as it might seem. One thing that hasn't changed is human nature.
When you sit down to eat with a ruler, pay close attention to what is in front of you, and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite. Do not crave his delicacies, because this is food that deceives you. Do not wear yourself out getting rich. Be smart enough to stop. Will you catch only a fleeting glimpse of wealth before it is gone? It makes wings for itself like an eagle flying into the sky. [vss 1-5]
Do not eat the food of one who is stingy, and do not crave his delicacies. As he calculates the cost to himself, this is what he does: He tells you, “Eat and drink,” but he doesn’t really mean it. You will vomit the little bit you have eaten and spoil your pleasant conversation. Do not talk directly to a fool, because he will despise the wisdom of your words. Do not move an ancient boundary marker or enter fields that belong to orphans, because the one who is responsible for them is strong. He will plead their case against you. [vss 6-11]
Live a more disciplined life, and listen carefully to words of knowledge. Do not hesitate to discipline a child. If you spank him, he will not die. Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell. My son, if you have a wise heart, my heart will rejoice as well. My heart rejoices when you speak what is right. [vss 12-16]
Do not envy sinners in your heart. Instead, continue to fear the Lord. There is indeed a future, and your hope will never be cut off. My son, listen, be wise, and keep your mind going in the right direction. Do not associate with those who drink too much wine, with those who eat too much meat, because both a drunk and a glutton will become poor. Drowsiness will dress a person in rags. [vss 17-21]
(Proverbs 23:1-21 GW) [Context– Proverbs 23]
Key phrase— Do not envy sinners in your heart
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What are the first five things we are warned not to do?
What is the reason for each warning? How is it expressed through picture language?
What are we exhorted to do in contrast to the other things we're warned about?
Why do you think we want what we don't or can't have, and envy those who do have these things?
Customs, culture, social norms, and fashions change over the years, but not human nature. Greed and envy are still active and strong. Those with power and influence still wield it regardless of its cost to others.
How can a person navigate life facing challenges where we feel powerless? The Serenity Prayer has some helpful wisdom— "God grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change...." Perhaps the most powerful wisdom is contained in verses 17-18—
Do not envy sinners in your heart. Instead, continue to fear the Lord. There is indeed a future, and your hope will never be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17-18 GW)
This is not wisdom found in philosophy classes, nor corporate boardrooms. It is wisdom that endures and gives hope, and it helps anyone navigate any challenge in life.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
What do you find yourself longing for or wishing you had?
How much time do you spend each day thinking about what you will eat, drink, or wear?
Do you make a point to pursue godly wisdom, even at the cost of popularity?
Do you have healthy, encouraging relationships that help keep you from envying others?