This post is contributed by a B4T worker in the Middle East.
This morning I was reading Proverbs 11, as part of my every summer study of the book. As always, different verses stick out to me each time I go through this precious gem of a book.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death – Proverbs 11:4
Without introspection, many of the proverbs would seem like “duh” statements to the reader. Most evangelical Christians would agree that riches are opposed to the life Christ Jesus has called us to live. Yet, every time I am back in the wonderful United States of America (I really do love that country!), I see two comforts that cloud the minds of Jesus’ people that they seem not to see at all. Riches and safety.
Riches and safety. Today, let’s talk about riches. “Rich” is so difficult precisely because it is so hard to define. Ask almost anyone if they are rich, and they will compare themselves to someone who is far richer and answer; “Who, me? Of course, I’m not rich!” Riches are fascinating for that very reason. Their effect on the human soul is to dull its nerves. You become less and less aware of the needs of those around you and more and more aware of your increased “need” for more stuff. Like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, riches corrode away your entire self until you are a mere skeleton with a little flesh. No one wants to admit they are rich because it would require that they place accountability in their lives for their spending habits and their giving habits.
Look at the Proverb again. Riches are pitted against righteousness. Why? Solomon is telling us that we cannot pursue them both. What are we teaching our children? We talk to them from such a young age about studying hard and ensuring they go to a good university one day. Why? So, they can get a good job. Why? So, they can make a lot of money. Why? Because we falsely assume that with a lot of money in the bank, we will have the security they need. Yikes! Now that we have said it out loud, we recognize the heresy!
Solomon tells us that on the day of wrath, riches will do nothing for us. On the contrary, it is righteousness that delivers us from death. From the time our kids are young, we should be teaching them a different set of logic:
You should study hard in school. Why? So you will have options for what you will be “allowed” to do in the world (you don’t know at age 10 what God wants you to do with your life but you can work at that age on creating options for the future by hard work) based on what God is telling you to do with your life. Make no mistake, the choices you make when you are a child effect your future. God doesn’t give us get-out-of-jail-free cards when we act in laziness. Why might I want to go to a good school? So, you can learn some of what God wants you to know that you may maximize your ability to bless those He will call you to serve. Why? Because you want His love to shine through you to others, that they may know the kindness of our Savior as we do. Why? Because the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And on that day (with a capital “T”), we want to stand before our Master and hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.”