Monday, April 24, 2023

The Pursuit of Riches (Proverbs 15:27; 21:26; 28:20)

"… he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished" (Prov. 28:20).

Solomon understood the importance of keeping money in its proper place. Because this is such an important theme in Scripture, we will study poverty and wealth this week. Proverbs teaches that the wise man keeps both poverty and wealth in a proper perspective. He does not consider poverty to be sought after as a high road to heaven, but he also avoids the snare of pursuing riches. He does not look down his nose at the rich, wrongly judging that only poverty leads to virtue and that riches flow only from vice. Yet, neither is he ambitious to be rich. He realizes that both poverty and wealth have their share of temptations. The prophet Agur discerned the fine line that must be traveled between poverty and wealth. He prayed that God give him neither poverty nor riches; for if he were poor, he would be tempted to steal, and if he were rich, he would forget God.

Some people fall into temptation because they think they are free to pursue riches—after all, they say, isn’t wealth a blessing from the Lord? Not always—sometimes it’s a deadly snare. The wise course is to accept what Providence gives, and not hasten to be rich. Said Bridges, “A faithful man is opposed, not to the rich, but … to him that hastens to be rich. A man may be rich by the blessing of God. [But he that hastens to be rich does so by his own covetousness.] He may be rich, and yet faithful. [But he that hastens to be rich does so at the expense of faithfulness.] The faithful man would rather be poor by Providence than rich by sin.”

A man is truly blessed by being faithful, not by being rich or poor. The Bible does not condemn wealth, but it does condemn covetousness, and it warns of the temptation to fall into the pursuit of riches. This does not mean that it wrong to increase your wealth by godly means, but it does mean that you ought not to hasten to be rich. Bridges wisely wrote that anyone who loves his own soul will not seek the opportunity to get rich, “or even avail himself of it without a plain call and clear advantage for the glory of God. Let God be our satisfying portion. Let Him be supremely loved and honored, and He will determine for us, whether the worldly advantage be a Providence or a temptation.”

Read Proverbs 30:7–11 and Matthew 6:9–13 and consider these two prayers in light of today’s lesson. Do your desires reflect those of Agur and of Christ? Are you satisfied with what God has given you? Do you covet when others have more? Do you pursue riches? Confess any covetousness you have or any ambition for wealth.