By Pastor David Groendyk
According to some scholars, Proverbs 22:22 through Proverbs 24:22 contain the “thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge” mentioned in Proverbs 22:20. If their outlines of this section are correct, chapter 23 contains Saying #6 through Saying #18. One word that springs to mind when reading this chapter is ‘gluttony’. These wise sayings warn us against gluttony in so many arenas of life.
• Do not be a glutton for food and drink. Wealthy people may try to entrap and deceive you with it (vv. 1–3). Eating and drinking with an evil person will always come back to bite you (vv. 6–8). Excessive food and drink will lead to poverty (vv. 19–21).
• Do not be a glutton for wealth. To spend all of your toil and energy endlessly seeking a larger bank account is foolish (vv. 4–5). Money is fleeting, and you will never be able to hold onto it.
• Do not be a glutton for land or possessions. It is something of an outdated reference in verse 10 when it talks about ancient landmarks, but those landmarks were boundary markers. Wealthy people would secretly move boundary markers so that their property was larger and their neighbor’s was smaller. Stealthily plotting, stealing, skimming, and grifting, especially at the expense of helpless widows and orphans, is foolish; the Lord is their strong Avenger (vv. 10–11).
• Do not be a glutton for sexual immorality. It is a deep pit that you will fall into and never be able to get out of (vv. 26–28).
• Do not be a glutton for alcohol. Woe, strife, and ruin are the only things that come to people who obsess over alcohol and can only find happiness at the bottom of a wine bottle or a whiskey glass (vv. 29–35).
• Do not be envious of evil people (vv. 17–18). This one is a little different, but the sentiment is the same. Be careful of letting your passions and desires get the better of you to the point of actually envying people who are distant, straying from, and rebellious against God. Those people have no hope. What is there to envy of theirs? What do they have that will rescue them on the final day?
Sin corrupts our desires. It tells us to want things we shouldn’t, and it tells us we need things we don’t. If our own corrupt natures had free rein over us, we would be ruined in our reckless pursuit of these earthly things. Even as a saved saint, the little voice in the back of your head (or sometimes the front!) is constantly telling you to get more, more, more! Sin is insatiable. Sin doesn’t care about long-term consequences. Sin doesn’t care about eternity. I say these things as someone who loves to eat and drink and take long naps afterwards (bullet point #1), and as someone who succumbs easily to envying other people’s wealth (bullet point #2). It sounds silly to put so much weight in overeating a little, but these outward actions are symptoms of deeper heart issues. Christ has died and risen again, not just to pay for the guilt and penalty of our sin, but also to break the corrupting power of it. So, who owns your heart? Is it Christ? If so, then his Spirit promises to give life to your mortal bodies so that your actions would please him (Rom. 8:11). Therefore, be resolved and unyielding in the fight against your own sinful desires.