If Dr. Seuss had ended up on Wall Street instead of Mulberry Street, perhaps his book titles may have sounded something like this: Great Day for the Dow! Horton Hears a Hedge and a High Index; Green Backs and Pork. The growth of investment companies and of commercialism demonstrates the continuing deification of the almighty dollar.
We all know that money can’t buy love, happiness or redemption. So why does the book of Proverbs imply that wealth, honor and life will come to those who are humble and fear the Lord? There are Christians who are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, just as there are wealthy Christians who don’t seem humble. Just what is the principle behind this proverb?
First, God’s definition of “wealth” isn’t the same as the world’s definition. King Solomon’s riches were legendary; his yearly income amounted to 25 tons of gold, not counting outside revenues from merchants and traders (see 1 Kings 10:14–15). In terms of finance, King Solomon was clearly qualified to write about wealth and prosperity. But the king soon discovered that God’s inheritance isn’t about quarterly dividends, accelerated land accumulation or a vast collection of chariots and horses. Rather, it is about the heart. In God’s eyes, spiritual riches are acquired by being rich toward him—by exhibiting a humble reverence for his awesome holiness. Spiritual wealth is laced with integrity, bejeweled by honor and polished for eternity. Spiritual riches will pay dividends in prudence, humility, honor, discipline, generosity, purity and graciousness.
This proverb is not a guide for earning wealth but a general principle for living wisely. Although this is not a guarantee that God will make us rich, spiritual riches can help reap financial stability (see Proverbs 21:20). Prudence will teach us to save for a rainy day rather than spend heedlessly. Disciplined giving can benefit us financially as well as spiritually. God delights in giving to the giver. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). But more important than financial wealth is the richness of living a godly life. We may not live on Wall Street, but we can make investments every day that will yield the benefits of humility, the fear of the Lord, honor and eternal life.
How do you define wealth? How does God?
What, in your own life, does it look like to “fear God”?
How do you invest the riches you’ve been given by God (your money, time, talents, etc.)?
Proverbs 22:4 Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.