A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Greed and a heart that chases after wealth and riches - is a terrible condition to see in a man. The Bible describes such a conditioin as having an "evil eye." This phrase is actually a Hebraism which meant to be greedy about money - and very stingy about giving any of it to anyone other than himself. When a man lives this way, he has an evil eye.
Another way of stating this is found in this same Hebraism in the New Testament. In Luke we see Jesus say this about a person's eye. "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35) The "bad eye" mentioned here is said to be full of darkness. This is a similar Hebraism that speaks of the evil or the bad eye. What is interesting is that both of these passages refer to someone who is very greedy with their money. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, this condition is considered a bad one to have.
Here is the problem - when money fills our eye - little else does. Therefore we don't have our eyes on the Lord - and neither can we see past money to recognize the needs of others that should move us to compassion and a giving heart. The evil eye is hastening after wealth. The word for "hasten" here is "bahal" and it means to be in a hurry for fear or dismay that one won't get what they are chasing. The unwise man is chasing wealth. He is not just after money - he wants a lot of money. He won't be satisfied until he has a little more - and that condition will be terminal.
This man is igorant of something that is happening to him even as he pursues his money. Slowly but surely want is coming upon him. It may not be a want of cash - it may be a want that grows as he ignores family, friends, and God in his endless pursuit of just a little more. The writer, Charles Dickens gave us the unforgettable Ebenezeer Scrooge in his book entitled, "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge was a man who had enormous amounts of wealth in reference to his bank account. Unfortunately for him such a boon in his bank led to utter bankruptcy everywhere else. The visits from the three spirits who came to show him his poverty woke him up to the fact that while he hastened after wealth - want had come upon him. It was a want that could not be satisfied with money alone. That fortunate night cured Scrooge of his evil eye - yet his name lives forever in our minds as a term that speaks of a miserly, miserable heart that loves little other than its money.
May God help us to embrace wisdom as a result of today's proverb. Wisdom is to have what Jesus called a "clear eye" that is "filled with light." That light will be the Word of God that will instruct us in true riches. Those may include physical wealth - but will never be limited to it along. The true riches must always include a tender heart that yields an open hand that does not hold tightly to financial wealth. It sees such blessings as God-given, and therefore to be God-directed to those who need it most. When we live this way it is not want that is coming to us, but blessing. The blessing of having our treasure in heaven and our true riches found in a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:20
Get rich quick schemes usually come with some form of sin involved in it. The quick riches come at the expense of others. The lottery is such a scheme - everyone is buying a chance to strike it rich - and only one does. All the others waste their money. The lottery is for those who are bad at mathmatics or who are wanting to get rich so that they can quit working. Either way - their riches come with a burden of sin. That is what today's proverb counsels against.
Let's look at the last half of this proverb first. The one who makes "haste" to be rich is going to face punishment in the end. It is never wise to be hasty in decisions or in following schemes that others hatch to make you rich. The corporate world is filled with those who learn to become rich on the backs of other's misfortune. Companies are bought and gutted for the purpose of making the investor rich - and people in the Stock Market are always talking of plans whereby you get rich quickly. The problem is that in every case - someone has to pay a price for your quick wealth. The phrase at the end of this proverb that reads, "will not go unpunished" is a Hebrew phrase that also means, "will not be innocent." The idea is that some form of sin is entered into that leaves them guilty - and eventually will lead to them being punished. Just know that every scheme that makes someone rich hastily - will leave them with an aspect of guilt in the end.
God is not against people becoming rich. God promised riches to the patriarchs and to Israel if they would follow Him with all their heart. He also warned them that when they became rich they would have a tendency to forget God and trust in their riches. God is against those who make haste to be rich - and cut corners morally to do so.
The Lord wants us to be faithful. Work is NOT EVIL! There are so many who think work is some sort of evil activity that came with the fall of man into sin. Work was something God gave man in the garden before the fall. Therefore to do faithful work puts us in a position for God to bless us. That is why The Lord says here that the faithful man will abound with blessings. Those blessings may include financial riches - but for many it does not. The blessings abound in numerous areas. I am blessed with my work associates - and the friendships that have been built over the years. I am blessed with projects that we do together that bring a very real sense of accomplishment. I am blessed with less temptation because my hands and my mind is busy doing work. I am blessed with being able to see my children learn the value of a strong work ethic because they've watched their father do what he learned from his father. I am blessed with a good night's sleep because I am tired and ready to go to bed each evenring. For some there is a blessing of an expanding business where others can be blessed with employment. And there is the blessing of serving others in your work - and building more and more of a servant's heart. Regardless of whether the blessings are financial or through moral character building - there is such a blessing that is ours when we embrace faithful work. May God help us to once again embrace the value of lifelong faithful work - and shun the get rich quick schemes that always involve some aspect of guilt and sin.
He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich. Proverbs 21:17
Much can be discerned about a society and people by those it deems as their heros. Ours is a society in very serious decline - and that can be fairly easily discerned when one examines our heros. Those considered our heros today are people in the entertainment industry and sports stars. Singers and actors are paraded before us day after day even though they offer little of nothing to us outside of entertainment. Their broken lives are the source of the headlines of our tabliods. Each a little more lurid than the last one - we are watch them self-destruct with baited breath. When the next star arises (especially a child star) we can predict the sad trail that will be followed. We will find that if they are rich intially, their riches will vanish - or be consumed by the wreckage of failed marriages, arrests, and stints in drug rehabilitation facilities. The plot of such lives is as predictable as the plot of a soap opera - and usually as ungodly as well.
Take for example Mike Tyson, of boxing fame. Tyson squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. What did he do to lose all this money? He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. He definitely loved expensive cars because he spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune went down the drain and he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
We are warned that the ones who love pleasure will become poor. Often for these people hard work, frugality, and restraint are not in their vocabulary. They are far more interested in parties, pleasure, and indugence of their lusts. They are living for the so-called "good time" that they can have here and now - with little or no thought of what lies beyond the end of the week. Their lives are spent on pleasure, the pursuit of things, and often on sexual immorality.
Wine and oil are mentioned in this warning. Those who love these two things, it warns, will not become rich. Wine and oil were the usual things to be had at expensive banquets. This was not ordinary wine, but expensive wine. When I go to higher class restaurants that serve wine, I am shocked that some wines cost over 200 to 300 dollars per bottle. There are wines out there priced at over $1000 to $5000 each bottle. Someone wanting to impress their friends with an expensive banquet would purchase the very best wines to be served there. The oils could also be very extravagant in their price range. Mary was criticized for using an ointment to annoint Jesus that cost almost an entire year's worth of wages. For the rich, such ointments were given to their guests as a sign of their wealth. Their parties and banquets would be filled with the expensive smell of high priced oils. Doing this would cost a fortune - and would assure that the one doing it would not be wealthy for long.
The prodigal son had great wealth when he left his father's house. But he soon squandered it with rich, loose living. His parties were probably the stuff of legend to those who attended. The only problem was that when the money ran out - and the parties became austere in their appearance - all his so-called friends left. The one who loves the pleasures of his flesh will not become rich. His riches and wealth will be swallowed whole by his wicked appetite. This is why we are counselled not to love such things. We are instead told that the wise man is the one who leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. He is the one who invests so as to reap long-term benefits and rewards. Ultimately he knows that he will take nothing with him when he dies. Thus the wisest man invests in the kingdom of God and the advance of the gospel - sending true riches ahead of him to the one place where moth and rust do not destroy and where no thief can break in or steal. The wise man knows to invest in heavenly things that glorify God is the safest investment of all. Therefore he lives with God's glory as his goal in all things - financial, physical, and spiritual. This will be a rich man, now, as well as for all eternity.
The crown of the wise is their riches, But
the folly of fools is foolishness. Proverbs 14:24
There is a promise from God that the wise will be crowned with riches. Some take this to mean only financial riches. The problem with this view is that many a godly, wise man or woman did not grow rich with money - but would argue to their death that they were rich in ways that a wealthy man would never understand. That is the key to understanding the proverb for today.
When a man acts wisely, he will be blessed in business endeavors. His wisdom will guide him into good practices that will yield sustainable financial growth and blessing. Wisdom will keep him from ungodly habits that rob a man of his wealth - as well as help him form habits that will prove very financially profitable to him. It was the wisdom of Joseph that kept Egypt from being devastated from seven years of famine that came to them. That wisdom led them to not sqander the years of blessing that God gave them. They saved instead and prepared for leaner times that would come. Wisdom is what leads us in this way. Wisdom also leads us to abandon addictive activities that rob us of wealth. A wise man does not engage in gluttonous and addictive habits like smoking, drinking, taking illegal drugs or overeating - not just because of the health problems such lifestyles pose. They also avoid these things because they have a tendency to cost a great deal financially as well. The hard working mindset of the wise man also prospers him and causes him to be blessed financially. All these things as well as hundreds more bless the wise man.
The wealth that a wise man gathers is more than financial though. He embraces wisdom because he embraces God. The wealth that comes to him initially manifests itself through the gospel. He receives the grace of God - and learns that this makes him wealthy beyond imagination. He rejoices in God more than in mere financial riches. This gives him the precious jewel of contentment - which makes him richer still. Being content in God, he knows a sense of blessing no matter whether he has little or much in this world. He has fellowship with Almighty God - and a future promise of an eternity enjoying Him in heaven. Knowing this makes him rich even if he has nothing - and causes all who watch him to covet the joy and peace that reigns in his heart.
The fool only knows his folly. The interesting thing about this second phrase in verse 24 is that all the fool gets for his folly is more foolishness. The word in Hebrew here is "ivveleth" which means foolishness or folly. We don't really get the idea of what the fool is doing and getting here until we look at the root of these two words. The root word for folly and for foolishness used in verse 24 is "ewiyl." The word means a foolishness that hates wisdom and morality. Hence this man walks in a way that despises God's counsel - and that embraces a worldly morality that rejects God's commands. In the end, this fool will only get his fill of his own ways. One of the Hebrew targums on this verse teaches us that when the fool acts according to his foolishness, he is not rewarded with riches - but with only a wealth of his own foolishness. In truth - the fool gets nothing for his foolish behavior. He receives only more foolishness and deeper bondage to his ungodly actions.
This may be hard to understand, but let me conclude the comments on today's proverb with two examples. The fool acts with folly - and gets more foolishness for it. The heavy drinker drinks himself into a stupor. The drug addict gets high. The sex addict looks at his online pornography or engages in prostitution. Each of these fools acts foolishly - and what they get for their actions is a deeper desire for more. They don't ever get anything except a short-lived thrill for their folly. The wise man acts according to God's wisdom and moral law and receives riches for his actions. His work ethic yields wealth for him. His choice to avoid sexual immorality will yield a happier life with the wife of his youth. His choice to avoid the excesses of the party life will yield two things. First, he has a morning without the hangover or the downer from his high. Second, he will live a far more healthy life because he avoids these things that destroy our physical bodies. The wise man is crowned with a wealth of unwasted money, undamaged health, and one other thing more valuable than all else. He winds up with uninterrupted fellowship with His God.
The poor is hated even by his neighbor, But those who love the rich are many. Proverbs 14:20
Popularity is far too often determined by what a person has or does not have, rather than by whether they are a person of character and value. Today's proverb reminds us of this as we are faced with how people are judged by their bank account rather than by who they truly are in life.
The poor is hated by even his neighbor. That is a strong statement, but unfortunately, a true one. James warns in chapter 2 of those who judge by the mere appearance of wealth in the church. His statement is fascinating and will bring much light on our current verse here in Proverbs 14
"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of
personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be
rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:1-5
Here James confronts the attitude that respects the rich, but despises the poor. The rich are recognized by their clothing and their jewelry as they walk into the meeting of the church. As a result, they are treated with great respect and deference. The poor, whose clothes seem to betray their poverty, are treated with disrepect and disdain. One if given the seat of honor - the other is left to sit on the floor. The problem with this kind of judgment is that it is motivated by evil motives. Honor is given by what a person makes - not what God has made of them. Respect is shown because of a person's wealth of money - not their wealth of godliness and character. These things are done also because of selfishness, because we figure in the end that we can "get something" from them. We will profit from the relationship - but the profit we seek is only monetary. We shun spiritual blessing and true wealth.
We are reminded hat the poor of this world are usually rich in faith. We devalue that and forget that God sees all and knows all. This is evil - and shows great disrespect for Both God and His Word. It also usually aligns us with those who do harm to God's people. The poor, we read, are rich in faith and are heirs of the kingdom.
Ultimately we need to remember that Jesus was poor as He lived on this earth. He spoke of how the birds of the air had nests - but He had no where to lay His head. It is not that the poor are automatically saved - due to their poverty. It is that they have nothing in this world - thus they are far more ready to hear what God says - not being blinded by their money or their possessions. If we despise the poor - we in all honesty despise our Lord Jesus as well. Yet he is rich in what truly matters - and from what we read in James - the poor are usually rich in faith as well. That is why we need to be wise and value people not on a basis of their financial bottom line - but with true judgment - on the basis of their character and their wisdom gained from their intimacy with God and their study of His Word.
He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it. Proverbs 11:26
Today's proverb is fascinating to me because it addresses an abuse that often happens in the area of economics. This abuse, though a proven way to make money, results in the inflation of prices for food. What has happened over the course of economic history is that when this is done - and it reaches a critical level in food prices - it leads to riots and in some cases the overthrow of a government.
Our proverb speaks of one who has much grain. Here is a man who has worked hard and labored to produce a crop on his farm. As a result he has a large amount of grain. He can choose to withhold grain from the people and not sell it. By doing this he will drive the price of grain up due to a scarcity of grain in the market place. This will make him very wealthy, but in time it will backfire on him. The people, who need grain, will begin to curse him because his actions are preventing them from eating - or is making it to where being able to provide food is becoming very expensive. The cost is not coming due to natural reasons such as a flood or drought or crop failure. The added cost is coming due to a man's greed. But for the man who sells his grain there will be a blessing - not just a financial one - but one from God Himself. This proverb allows us to consider the whole area of how Biblical authority addresses economic theory.
In our day it is considered a wise business move to hold on to goods until they wind up in short supply. This allows the person who has them to artificially inflate the price of what they sell so that they can make huge profits from it. Such actions eventually become accepted business practices on larger levels so that embargos are used by nations to boost the price of their domestic products. In time groups of businesses form consortiums that try to corner an entire market so that they can set the price wherever they want. The government then steps in a tries to enforce what they call "social justice." They impose restrictions on businesses so that things will be fair. The problem is that in time the government oversteps their bounds and corruption within the government (due to the sin nature in all of us) begins to crystalize. It is then that officials learn how to use their power to corner their own political markets and do the very thing they initially were trying to prevent in the public sector. The problem throughout all this is that the poor are hurt the most by such practices.
Some think wrongly that the end of all labor is to make money. But Scripture militates against that philosophy. God desires us to work hard and be diligent to make a profit - but - He also desires for us to be compassionate in the process. This sets up a very interesting tension in life and in the economic theory that governs Bible-believing Christians. At one end is the philosophy of pure Capitalism. This philosophy functions under the idea that life is about the profit motive at all times. But God warns against a "love of money" which He says is a root of all sorts of evil. At the other end is Socialism and Communism. This philosophy functions under the assumption that a government should rule over all land and production efforts. Their goal is then to take all profits and distribute them equally to all the people. Both of these extremes will fail.
Pure Capitalism will fail because greed will so rule men's hearts that they will lack compassion for others - and especially for the poor. In time their greed will consume them with a desire for more and more profit - and an insatiable desire for more and more wealth. In the process they will shut their hearts to the plight of the poor. This will lead to greater levels of abuse of the poorest - who will then curse those who have the economic power - and will ultimately lead to revolution and the overthrow of those who have the wealth and power in society.
Communism and Socialism will fail because of greed as well. Though such economic philosophies sound wonderful at the outset, they fail because of several factors. First, there is no man who is not fallen. When given the power to confiscate the wealth of a society, they will NOT distribute it equally. They will eventually treat themselves well - and let the rest of society live on the rest. This has happened in every situation when such an economic system prevails. Their goals may sound lofty, but their practices wind up eerily similar to the captialist. Second, there is no motive in this system to work. Actually there is a motive - to do what you do for the good of all others in the collective society. But this equates good as distributing things equally among all in the society. This will not work in a fallen world because over time some will sinfully decide that if they don't work hard - or at all - they will still get an equal part of the collective pie. Others who intially work hard - will be greatly discouraged that it is their hard work that is allowing the lazy, the undisciplined, and the slothful to live just as they do. In time there will be an equality - but it will be an equality of poverty and want - because no one will be motivated to work to the best of their ability. No matter how hard they work - they only get the same part of the collective's goods. These will never be enough for collective prosperity because sinfulness will move many to barely work at all - or at a level where they are forced to work.
The system God will bless is one that encourages and rewards hard work and industriousness. This is captialism - but there must be a restraint in this system as well, if it is to succeed. This is what I call "Compassionate Captialism." It is a system where the profit motive and self-interest is encouraged. But it is also a system that values compassion and kindness. Where a profit and self-interest motive might move a man to withhold grain so he can make an obscene profit - he does not do it. He is moved by the desire to serve those who buy his grain. Understanding this he chooses to sell his grain - not just for a profit - but for a profit that also allows those who are poor to be able to afford to feed their families. In the end, this man is blessed with profit - and also is blessed with the favor of God for acting with kindness and compassion toward those who can easily be taken advantage of by the system. He chooses a wise profit level rather than one driven by greed alone. This promotes peace and the welfare of all those in the market.
It is fascinating to see the wisdom of God address all areas of life. One would not readily think that the Word of God would be a good place to learn economic principles. Yet when we read and mediatate on God's Word - immeasurable benefit is gained from it. Oh, that we would not divorce academic pursuit from the queen of the sciences - theology. May God gives us wisdom to see that His perspective is best in all academic and lifestyle pusuits. Then we can be blessed - not just a religious context - but in all of life.
It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it. Proverbs 10:22
There is a wrong view of wealth that says that God does not bless men with wealth - therefore if anyone has it - they have it due to sin. This is contrary to what we see written in the Scriptures. God does make men wealthy. He blesses some men with the ability to accumulate and make a great deal of wealth.
Eccleiastes 5:18-19 says the following, "Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during
the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God." God grants people the ability to receive great wealth from His hand - and also grants to them the ability to enjoy it. This is truly a wonderful gift. It is also what our proverb today is telling us from the Lord. It IS the blessing of Jehovah that makes a man rich, and when God grants this - there is also no sorrow with it.
There is often great sorrow that attends the rich men of this world - who have put their hope in these riches - rather than in the Lord. These men do not enjoy their riches - because that is all that they are living for. Paul warned young Timothy to beward of living for riches - because when a man loves money - he pierces himself with MANY sorrows. Not only this, but when a man sets his heart on wealth - it is as if wealth takes up wings and flys toward the heavens. This is the malady that strikes those who think if they could just get a little more they would be happy. You see the folly of this when you see men who are billionaires who are not satisfied with their wealth - but struggle and strive to become even richer. Their lives are consumed by their wealth - and even as the Scriptures tell us - their sleep flies away from them because they cannot stop thinking about their money and how they will continue to protect it.
God does bless some with wealth. But we know those when we se that there is no sorrow that comes with it. They are happy - and do not allow wealth or riches to consume their thinking. They even use their wealth to bless God and to expand the work of the kingdom here on earth. Therefore they are among the blessed whom God has given riches - and the ability to enjoy them and use them without harm to themselves. If you are one of these people - fall on your knees and thank God - for their numbers are few indeed.
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will
only come to
poverty. Proverbs 22:16
How we treat the poor says a great deal about our heart. There is one thing God is very clear about throughout the Word of God - and that is that He desires for us to care for the poor in our society. One thing I need to differentiate before I continue is that God also makes a clear distinction between the poor and the lazy. Too often we view the poor as anyone who does not have enough - whereas God describes them as those who do not have enough, but who are that way not because they refuse to work. By saying this I am not saying that everyone who is poor is unwilling to work - but I am saying that among those who do not have enough are far too many who are that way because either they won't work - or because their lifestyle choices (i.e. alcohol, drugs, laziness) is what is the cause of their need. That being said, I want to turn to this proverb and make a few comments.
The one who oppresses the poor to make more for himself is odious to God. The word "more" here is actually the word for having much. This person is abusing the poor not because he wants to make a living - but because he wants to be wealthy. His desire to have much drives him to not see people - all he sees is money. The word "oppress" has the idea of extorting money from someone. It also is used to speak of those who cheat their workers out of their wages. There is an acceptable way to earn a large amount of money in a business, but to do so on the backs of workers who are not paid properly is not the way to do this. God will not bless such a man.
The second warning here is for those who give to the rich. These people shut their hearts to the poor - but instead give to a rich man to curry favor with him. They do so as little more than a sycophant who is wanting by his gifts to have the rich man give him something in the end. The Scriptures say that such a practice will only come to poverty in the end. There may be a temporary return for such a man's wicked investment, but in the end such practices only last as long as the gifts keep coming. Let someone else offer a larger or more impressive gift and the rich man will turn to him, forgetting the poor schlub who gave him a lesser gift last year.
Our money belongs to God - and He desires that we use it wisely. This means that we do business honestly and wisely. Giving gifts to customers is not ungodly when the gifts are given with a true sense of gratefulness for their patronage. Being wise with wages so that a business continues to make a profit is not ungodly either. What the Lord is seeking to get across to us here is that when we do business and make a bigger bottom line our god - we are going to wind up serving money rather than God. When God blesses our bottom line, He wants us to always remember the poor. To forget them and see the rich as the only ones who can continue to bless us is to ultimately forget God - Who is the ultimate One to honor and please for future prosperity and blessing.
by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it. Proverbs 13:11
At times it amazes me how much can be found on business and finances within the book of Proverbs. There is enough counsel on business decisions and how we handle money to guide us throughout our entire lifetimes. That is why admonitions like the one today are such a blessing to us if we will heed what is said to us by them.
Today's proverb counsels us as to the proper way to obtain wealth. There are many in our day (and actually at any time in history) who are looking for a "get-rich-quick scheme." They want to obtain wealth any way that they can - and do not realize that to sell our soul or our integrity for any amount of wealth is far too high a price to pay to become rich. That is the warning that is given to us today in Proverbs.
When we obtain wealth by fraud - we are going to face problems and difficulties in maintaining that wealth. The word fraud here is the Hebrew word "hebel" and it refers to soemthing that is vain and empty. It refers to a person's character when it is empty of character - or when the character is fleeting and easily changed. It also has the idea of being evil as well. When we seek wealth but do so by being ungodly - we are on the wrong track.
The warning here is that when we get wealth by this kind of fraud, it will dwindle. It will dwindle first of all because God's blessing will not be upon it. God is sovereign over the affairs of mankind, and when we go outside what He says and commands, His blessing will be absent from our lives. There may be wealth to be had on the front end of godless business practices - but the latter end of these men will see a dwindling of their wealth. What is interesting is how their wealth may dwindle. One way it dwindles is by others having the same ungodly, fraudulent business practices that eventually takes their money. The saying, what comes around goes around is the rule here. The Bible puts it this way, if we sow the wind, we will reap the whirlwind. Act ungodly in securing your own riches - someone may use the same ungodly tactics on you later in life. The second way that wealth may dwindle later in life is through children that have no sense at all when it comes to finances. Solomon wrote these words about this dwindling of our wealth and riches.
"Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19
, NASB) Some men spend a lifetime gathering wealth by fraud - only to have a son or daughter live foolishly and destroy a fortune left to them. This is because that child has watched a corrupt father gather millions - and in the process the true riches of that child's character are ruined. They not only inherit the riches - but also the fatal flaws in their father's actions. The third way that these riches dwindle is by the man's ability to enjoy them later in life. The older we get, the less we can enjoy the things of this world. Our taste buds go - our health goes - and our agility and strength go as well. So, whether God's judgment and discipline come immediately - or just through the course of life itself - wealth obtained wrongly will dwindle in the end. And this says nothing of eternity - where fraudulent wealth will disappear altogether as a man loses everything.
Consider the rich farmer who tore down his old barns to build new ones - thinking that his life indeed only consisted of his possessions. He was not rich toward God - and faced the loss of everything - most importantly his very soul as he burned in hell for all eternity for his focus on the wrong kind of wealth.
The promise of this proverb is that if we gather wealth by labor - we will increase. That is an aspect of his proverb that we need to see clearly. The translation says that we increase "it" - referring to our wealth. But the it is not actually in the text. The phrase says that when we gather wealth by labor - we increase - not just our wealth - but our entire being. God grows us as we learn to work hard and labor at what pleases and honors Him.
Another aspect of this proverb is that we are to gather wealth gradually - working for it at every turn. We are warned elsewhere in Proverbs that an inheritance gained quickly - will most likely be wasted. The prodigal son got his inheritance quickly from his father - but he wasted it on immoral living and wound up eating with the pigs in a foreign land. There is something to be said to having wealth come slowly by surely by labor and by effort. There is a promised increase - a blessing that comes as we work hard and appreciate what blessing God has given to us.
Beware of gaining wealth the wrong way - fraudulently. It will not give us the true riches that God desires for us to have. These come by hard work and effort. This kind of wealth will bring us great blessing in the end. May God help us to see this kind of wealth - and have a heart to covet it rather than wealth that will harm us instead.
The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him. Proverbs 28:11
An interesting thing about men is that the wealthier that they are - the more that we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to intelligence and wisdom. We assume that because they have accumulated wealth that a certain amount of wisdom and knowledge were used in doing so. This may be the case, but when a rich man begins to be "wise in his own eyes," his wealth is only a facade to cover his foolishness.
The rich are often wise in their own eyes. This is because wealth can buy you a lot of things - including a group of well paid sycophants who will tell you that you are a genius. This is the age old "yes-man" who follows about his benefactor telling him how brilliant he is publically, even though privately he man consider the rich man a moron. But while on the dole, this person gives the rich man a sense that he is wise. Unless his wisdom is gained from Scripture - this is only wisdom in his own eyes. The problem with being wise in our own eyes is that one, we can easily impress ourselves - and two, once we have impressed ourselves our pride can shut out any other evaluation others may try to give.
But this proverb tells us that the poor man who has understanding can see right through the foolish rich man. The word for understanding here means the ability to discern. The poor man examines the rich man wise in his own eyes. He discerns the difference between wisdom gained of experience and God, and that paid for with money. He discerns that those who praise the rich man are all paid patrons of his supposed wisdom. He also knows that if the money flow stops, the truth concerning this man's foolishness will not be tolerated - and he will be abandoned by his fair weather pals.
Wisdom knows others who are wise. Since that wisdom comes from God, there is no need to brag about it. Since it comes from God, there is also no price that can be paid for it. Such wisdom is given by grace - and gained by the teaching of the Holy Spirit as we daily search the Scriptures and learn to listen to God.