Proverbs about Wealth and Poverty
The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is filled with both instruction and wise sayings/reminders. The book is an anthology of various sayings that were likely collected over the course of Israel’s history and compiled together as instructions, particularly for young folks (boys mostly or entirely) as they come of age. However, the wisdom contained within the book is applicable to all of us throughout our lifetimes, in most cases.
Over the next several weeks, I would like to simply focus in on Proverbs 10, listening to the major themes that are present in the wisdom sayings of that chapter, for the themes contained in that chapter are also present in the remainder of the book. This week, we examine wealth and poverty.
The Bible is interested in your money.
It’s true, although maybe not in the way that sounds. The Bible is not interested in your money because God needs it, and certainly not because you need to give it to a pastor like myself (who can be fallible and use it for their own personal gain rather than for God’s glory).
The Bible is interested in your money because you are interested in your money. Sometimes too much.
All the way through Scripture, the authors of the Bible, and God’s very self, are constantly talking about the dangers of wealth, the mistake of depending on your money, and what can happen when money turns into an idol. And the simple version of how things go when that happens is like this: it’s not good.
(How’s that for a great blog post?)
God is interested in your money because God wants your money to be a blessing, not an idol. And often times, the way that works out is not how we might expect.
Take a moment and read Proverbs 10 again here.
Proverbs 10 directly references treasure, wealth, poverty, riches, and value in six of its’ thirty-two verses. We find these references in verse 2, 4, 15, 16, 20, and 22. And Solomon here tells us of a couple of important things:
- Our very definition of wealth needs to change (vs. 2 and 4).
- Wealth in and of itself is not necessarily evil (v. 15).
- What is more valuable than actual wealth is imitation of God and relationship with God (vs. 16, 20, and 22).
Proverbs 10 says that true treasure is not in gold or riches, it is in righteousness and even in hard work.
In verse 15, we learn that riches can build a strong city–a place where everyone can have a home, a place of work, a place of value, of relationship, of justice. All the things that a city can and should offer can be a strength whereas poverty can lead to ruin.
And finally, the wages of righteousness, the true value of wealth is in the life that living righteously and with God can lead to. The presence of the Lord is what makes a person rich–not their portfolio, bank account, or knowledge of Wall Street.
These can be incredibly difficult lessons to learn because they are not the ones that we most often hear in our world today. What we most often hear is that we should do everything in our power to build up our wealth, to store up for a rainy day, to work hard to provide for ourselves, our futures, and our families.
And while that is not an evil message, it does often lead us away from God and toward the love of money. Dependence on money. And attention on money.
Jesus says this in his Sermon on the Mount: “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The Bible is interested in your money. God is interested in your money. Not because God wants your money, but because God wants your heart. My prayer for us all this week is that we will place our treasure in heaven, and let our hearts follow suit.