Proverbs are not absolute rules for life but rather they are general principles that usually lead to a blessed and happy life. Here are six principles that I gleaned from my reading …
1. Live a Righteous Life.
Wisdom teaches that God watches over those who are righteous and who walk before him in integrity (Prov.13:25; 22:4; 10:22). This does not mean that the righteous will never experience poverty, adversity or suffering (e.g. Job). Life may appear to be unfair at times, especially when righteous people are poor and suffering while ungodly people are rich and blessed. However, in the long run, the righteous will be blessed and the ungodly will be punished. Character lasts forever while wealth is transient and there is coming a day of judgment where all wrongs will be righted (Prov.11:4; 13:22; 23:4-5). There are many more important things than wealth, such as wisdom, knowledge, honour, a good name, and the fear of the Lord (Prov.3:13-16; 8:10-11, 18-21; 16:16-17; 22:1-2). Even a little with these things is better than wealth without them (Prov.15:16-17; 16:8; 17:1; 19:1, 22; 28:6). Unfortunately, our contemporary culture often sees being well off financially as more important than living a godly life. Success is determined more by what a person has than who they are. Many people assess their self-worth by their net-worth. Today’s heroes are often the rich and famous. However, as Jesus once said, “… one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Lk.12:15). Wealth and possessions are only temporal (Prov.11:28).
2. Work Diligently.
Proverbs praises diligent hard. Hard work leads to God’s blessing. Diligence brings wealth and profit, as well as personal satisfaction and promotion (Prov.10:4; 13:4; 14:23). Proverbs also condemns and ridicules laziness. Slothfulness frequently results in poverty and scarcity, slavery and bondage, and it never satisfies. Proverbs rebukes the lazy person, often referred to as the “lazybones” (Prov.6:6-11; 20:4; 21:25-26; 24:30-34; 26:14). From the beginning, human work is the God-ordained means by which a person can generate the income necessary to live their life (see Gen. 2:5, 15; Ex.20:9-11). God has given each individual person skills and abilities so that they can use them to serve others in exchange for income (Deut.8:17-18). Christians today should work diligently as unto the Lord, doing their very best to the glory of God (Col.3:23-24). They should develop their skills and abilities, taking responsibility for their own growth and development so that they maximise their God-given potential. Work done well and with a good attitude is rewarded and often leads to promotion (Prov.22:19). When a believer excels in their work, God is honoured. However, work holism and striving to be rich should be avoided (see Prov.23:4-5).
3. Avoid Trying to Get Rich Quickly.
Wisdom teaches avoidance of the pursuit of any activity that promises quick riches (Prov.12:11; 28:20-22; 20:21; 13:11). Wisdom seeks to help a person grow in maturity as their income increases. People who want something for nothing don’t always develop the character necessary to handle it wisely. This can be observed by considering what happens to a person after they win a lot of money through gambling. Usually within a few years, they are back to where they were before. Getting rich quickly seems to be diametrically opposed to God’s financial plan as he connects the acquisition of money to hard work. As they work diligently, their income grows and they can handle it because they’re growing in character and maturity. There are a plethora of schemes today that promise a quick dollar, yet often result in disappointment and financial loss. Believers would do well to exercise wisdom and caution in all their financial dealings and seek to generate income through hard work and wise investments not through get rich quick pursuits.
More tomorrow …