A SURE REWARD?
God, help me to approach today’s passage—and my day in general—with humility, that You may reveal more of Yourself to me.
Read Proverbs 11:1–31
The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 Truly the righteous attain life,
but whoever pursues evil finds death.
20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.
31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect“With humility comes wisdom” (2).
As I read these verses I sometimes feel a touch of cynicism sneaking in. They speak of the righteous prospering while the wicked flounder, but that doesn’t seem to be true in “real life.” How should we understand this seeming contradiction?
In verse 31 in particular it seems clear that the writer is thinking of earthly rewards. In his commentary on it (available free online through biblegateway.com), the 18th-century theologian Matthew Henry says that while there are some occasions when the righteous receive their reward in this life, this “is not the principal, much less the only reward either intended for them or intended by them.”
In other words, if we’re bothered by the fact that the righteous don’t seem to be reaping the rewards of their righteousness here on earth, that probably reveals a wrong perspective on what we think righteousness is about or for in the first place. All of these verses are revealed to be true when we “zoom out” and see God’s bigger picture. “Real life” isn’t just what we see here and now, but it is also what God sees from the vantage point of eternity.
Write down what you think of as success. Now think through what you know of God’s kingdom and write down what comes to mind as God’s definition of success.
Have you been disillusioned by these things in the past? Bring it all to God and ask him to show you the world through his eyes.
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