Proverbs 23:4

ESV Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.
NIV Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.
NASB Do not weary yourself to gain wealth; Stop dwelling on it.
CSB Don't wear yourself out to get rich; because you know better, stop!
NLT Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.
KJV Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

What does Proverbs 23:4 mean?

Verses 4 and 5 speak against the habit of "overworking." Other passages in the book of Proverbs warn about laziness (Proverbs 6:10; 10:4; 19:15, 24). Yet there is also danger in pursuing wealth at the expense of one's health, family life, or other needs. Scripture frames this as a matter of discernment: something requiring careful thought and good judgment. A wise, hardworking person recognizes the need for rest. They can tell the difference between a strong work ethic and being what modern English would describe as a "workaholic:" someone addicted to a job or task.

Specifically, Solomon is speaking against the work-without-discernment attitude as it applies to seeking wealth. We should resist the urge to work solely to get rich. We should not sacrifice other needs so we can take on additional money-making opportunities. Of course, circumstances sometimes demand a heavy work schedule. As far as we're able, however, that should be an exception and not a rule.

Human wisdom tends to imply that life's highest priority is accumulating wealth, but the wisdom of God contradicts that conclusion (Proverbs 23:5). Jesus told His disciples: "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you" (John 6:27). He also said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 5:10: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity." Many materialistic people have discovered the truth of Solomon's statements. They have learned they are never satisfied with their material wealth and always crave more.
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