USE IT WISELY!
Lord, grant to me a balanced view of wealth and its accumulation.
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.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9)
Our modern world greatly values wealth. It seems that the ancient world was no different. How it gained and used wealth are recurring themes in today’s reading. Wealth can be gained dishonestly (1)—and God does not approve. The prophetic writings frequently highlight the exploitation of the poor and the judgment that comes as a result (e.g., Amos 5:11,12). Here wisdom and prophet speak with one voice. There is perhaps a warning in verse 18: those who gain wealth in unscrupulous ways may well find that the results are not all that they have expected.
Wealth can be used unwisely. Trusting in wealth is futile (4,28), a theme to which we shall return. Generosity is commended (24,25 and possibly 16) and hoarding condemned (26). We may become uneasy over the emphasis on personal gain in verse 25; if this is the motivation, then are we not back in a world that is essentially self-centered? Remember the nature of Proverbs: these are observations of the way that life is rather than ultimate ethical principles. Since generosity and open-handedness are characteristics of God, to display these is to gain personally as we show his character and bring blessing to the wider community (26). We remember the transformation that Jesus brings to a man like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10) and Jesus’ warning against storing up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19–21).
What are we to make of this in a world where wealth accumulation is the obsession of many in developed nations while the majority of the world’s population is concerned with survival; where profit often overshadows pity? Economic systems are complex and generalization unwise, but wisdom warns against placing personal profit over the common good. As individuals, we will aim to be people marked by integrity (3) and kindness (16,17).
Think about all that you possess. Pray for opportunities to use what you have wisely and to bring blessing to others.
Lord, help me not to forget the suffering of others as I work hard and yet make a good living.
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