What is the key to a financially successful life?
The wise author of these proverbs has some ideas, but first perhaps we should ask whether desiring financial success in the first place is really wise. After all, the Apostle Paul will write that those who want to get rich fall into temptations that ruin and destroy (1 Timothy 6:9). And yet, proverbs knows no virtue in being poor. It often counsels that the honorable life is one that cares for the poor (14:31; 19:17), but it recognizes that poverty in and of itself has nothing to commend it and while it is certainly better to be poor and blameless than rich and perverse (19:1), the poor man will always be a slave (22:7).
Success first and foremost involves a determined mind set in a particular direction – the direction of righteousness (being pleasing to God) and concern for others. This is the person who will find life, prosperity and honor (21:21; 22:4)).
Second, success involves hard work. The successful man knows how to dream, plans for achievement and then works hard to make his dreams come true (21:5). The failure too has dreams, but can’t bring himself to work to make them come to pass (21:25). He always has an excuse for not acting – a really poor excuse (22:13). The successful keeps an eye out for where his road is leading. He changes course when he sees danger. The failure seldom thinks about where he is going; he’s too busy traveling the road (22:3) and too determined to walk in his own way.
The successful man (or woman) does not focus too much on pleasure or luxury, the worldly (and foolish) idea of the benefits of wealth. Pleasure and luxury are investments with no return (21:17), robbing you of what you worked so hard to achieve (23:21). Instead, the wise man of wealth focuses on what he can do for the needy, and finds that to be an investment with great return (22:9).