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.
There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up. Proverbs 21:20
The wise man takes what God has given him and uses it wisely. He spends some and uses it for himself, his family, and his friends. He also saves some and puts it away for future use as well as for lean times. Today let's take a look at the acts of the wise man who saves for his future and the foolish man who simply swallows everything God grants to him.
We are told that precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise man. Whether he received these things from the practices of industry and frugality - or whether he received them as an inheritance from godly, thoughtful parents - the wise man knows how to save. Precious treasure is an interesting word as it has two connotations. The first is from how the word is used to refer to things like gold, silver, and other commodities. He saves money, food, and other valuable things so that he will have access to them in the future. Why does he do this? Because a wise man knows that since the world in which we live is fallen and affected by sin - there will be times of shortage and leanness. Throughout all human history there have been both abundance and famine in our world. Joseph knew such things from God Himself when he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. He did not waste time in the purcuit of gluttony and over-indulgence. Joseph was a wise man and saved and stored much so that when the famine came he would be ready. His foresight and obedience to God saved all of Egypt, saved his own family, and made Egypt rich beyond their imaginations.
There is a second way this word "treasure" is used. The word can also mean "temple treasures." These spoke of treasures that were given so as to build up and maintain the worship of God in the temple. In the dwelling of the wise there is provision stored up not only for physical welfare - but for the spiritual welfare of the home as well. There is little more foolish among mankind than to think this world is all that there is. They live ignorant of God and ignorant of their responsiblity to Him. The wise man stores up for both the physical and the spiritual. There is in his house a physical inheritance - but also a spiritual one as well. He lives godly and rears his children to love and honor God. He makes sure that the Word dwells richly within their hearts - desiring for them to walk with God and know Him intimately.
Not only is there treasure within this house of the wise, there is also oil. When speaking of oil - this could speak of the olive oil that was used in almost every aspect of a Jewish family. They needed this for food preparation - for spiritual worship for annointing oil - and for medical reasons like softening wounds and helping them heal. There was also the idea of savings - because some oils were very expensive. Mary offered a container of very expensive oil as she annointed Jesus with it in preparation for His crucifixion and burial. This alabaster vial was worth a whole year's wages. When one of the prpohetic students of Elisha died, his widow was in debt and in danger of haring her chidlren sold into debt slavery. Elisha answered this by having her collect numerous vials which later were supernaturally filled with oil. This she sold, paid her debt, and even had plenty to kep her and her children alive and well. This kind of oil would signify that a family was preparint for their future - for the needs of their children and grandchildren. On a spiritual note - oil was a picture of the Holy Spirit - so one could even consider this the way that a family cherished the work of the Spirit in their lives and encouraged it in themselves and in their children.
The foolish ones don't save any of these things - either physical or spiritual. Theirs is a consumer mentality. They swallow up whatever they receive with no thought of the future. They live by their lusts and desires - and therefore do not even consider anyone except themselves. The end of such a life is that they are broke, both physically and spiritually. The saddest example of this is the prodigal son. He took a large inheritance and wasted it on the party life. In the end he was broke. His so-called friends abandoned him and left him to fend for himself. This was only after he abandoned any kind of spiritual preparation for the future by rejecting his father and his father's God. He was left with nothing - except the grace his faher would give him in the end.
If we are wise we will realize we live in a fallen world. This will necessitate preparation for our future - both physically and spiritually. We will face famines physically that will require that lay up wise stores for that day in order for us and for our families to survive. But there is also a need to prepare spiritually - for there will also be a day when we will face being ready for the judgment of God. Oh to be wise and understanding so that our preparations will have our homes and lives filled with treasures both temporal and eternal so that we will be well provided for when the day comes that we need them. May God, in His grace, work in and deliver us from a life lived for self and for the moment. May we be ready for anything - famine in life - and fatal spiritual thinking in eternity.
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.
An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end. Proverbs 20:21Quick money is often thought of as a blessing - but often is more like a curse. This proverb is all about warning us of the dangers of greed and quickly gaining money and wealth without having the character to deal with what we receive. The best example of this is the prodigal son. His father gave him his inheritance, but he was not ready morally to handle it. What happened next is an altogether too often heard story. He wasted his inheritance on loose living and partying with his new-found friends. He only learns when the money is gone that he has no real friends among the sycophants who have gathered around him. He only has regrets and abject poverty. The inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning - was not blessed in the end.
Note here that the problem is "hurriedly" gaining this inheritance. A wise man will prepare his children and his children's children for the inheritance that they will most likely receive at his death. He does this by teaching them the value of work. This work ethic that is built into them gives them a proper perspective toward money. They see money earned and see that they do not waste all their hard work on silly and frivilous pursuits. When the inheritance comes - they learn to spend it and invest it in ways that will bring long-term blessing rather than just a short-term high.
The best way to prepare a person for an inheritance is to have them focused on God rather than on money. They see an inheritance is a blessing to pass on rather than to be wasted on their lusts and desires. They want to see the family wealth passed to many generations. This is called generational wealth - and it can bless multiple generations of one family. But even more important than this is passing on to children the truth that the things of this world are passing away. Therefore the wise man invests and sees real wealth in terms of becoming rich toward God. This means investing in the kingdom of God - investing in good works - and investing in buiilding up disciples of Jesus Christ who can bless multiple generations. Ultimately the wise man teaches his children that the greatest inheritance is that given to us by God. We are blessed with a heavenly inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord. That inheritance will never pass away - and is reserved in heaven for us.
Wealth - especially sudden, hurriedly gained wealth will test us sorely. We will be tested in our values - in our view of what is truly valuable - and in our view toward eternally valuable things. The man whose master is money (mammon in Scripture) will cling to that master and hate any others who rival him. The man whose master is the Lord will be blessed not just in the short term as he receives an inheritance, he will be blessed in his own generation - in multiple generations afterward - and ultimately, he will be blessed in the presence of God forever. Now there is an inheritance worth living for in life!
He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green
leaf. Proverbs 11:28
What makes you feel safe and secure? What do you rely upon to make you confident about these things. Today in our look at Proverbs we will see how two types of people seek security and safety, but how only one of them will truly obtain it.
Our proverb tells us of a man who "trusts in his riches." The word for trust is the Hebrew word "batah" which means to not just trust, but to have a confident trust. This man feels secure and safe - without fear - as a result of his riches. He may have a bank account that is full - a set of stocks that are the best on the market in returns - plus a sure-fire business model that assures him of success in life for years and years to come. This is what makes him feel confident - his wealth. Here is the problem with this man. Scripture tells us that the one who trusts in his riches will fall. This word is a very frightening one. It means to fall down to a prostrate position. Here it has the idea of being overthrown. The overthrow described here is death. Regardless of what amount of money you have - and how secure that you think it is - your money will not survive your death. In Psalm 49:5-9
we read the following, "
Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth And boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his
brother Or give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying
forever— that he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay."
The Psalmist here reminds us that no amount of money will be able to pay for a soul and the redemption it needs. The man who trusts in his wealth - who thinks that the abundance of his riches will rescue him from death and from the punishment due for his sins - is in for a tremendous amount of disappointment. The day will come when he will stand on the same footing as any other human being - and have to give an account for his sin. If anything, the fact that he has wealth and riches will make his judgment even more stringent. Jesus said that to whom much is given - much will be required. The man who trusted in his riches rather than trusting in Jesus Christ - will end up in the lake of fire for all eternity.
The righteous are contrasted with this unwise rich man. In fact we are told that the righteous man will flourish like a green leaf. This is the man who realized that there is no amount of money that could ever pay for redemption. His desire to please God and to honor Him will make this man do everything in his power to obey God. He does not look for a righteousness based on money - or even on his own good works. He knows that the man who will flourish in this life and stand in the next is the man who has been justified (made righteous) by faith. Thus his life is not spend trying to earn God's favor and love - he knows that such things have already been purchased by the blood of Christ. His desire is rather to listen to God - walk in fellowship with Him - and - out of that fellowship enjoy spiritual growth. This is why he will flourish like the green leaf. He is not trusting in growing himself. He trusts in a God who blesses him first with righteousness to stand in His presence - and then trusts Him to lead him in the way that will glorify God in all that he does.
What are you trusting to make you secure? If you think your security depends on how much money you have here in this life - or how great your wealth and insurance coverage is - you will lose everything. If instead you see that there is only really one security issue, you will do well. If you grasp that the clear and present danger is the wrath of God for sin - you will choose the way that will make you stand righteous in that day - and that righteousness only comes through the gospel - and the gift of it by God in response to repentance and faith in those who believe on Jesus.
The rich man's wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. Proverbs 10:15-16
To rightly understand the first proverb here in verse 15, we must push on to read it with the proverb in verse 16. If we do not do this, we will think that the acquisition of money is the end of man's existance. Although God encourages us to prepare for the future and to work hard so that through His blessing we may leave an inheritance to our children's children, this does not mean that gaining wealth is to be our highest aim.
We first learn of the fact that money can provide a measure of protection. The rich man's wealth is his fortress. There is much that a rich man can do to protect himself from harm due to his wealth. He is protected from much in life due to this. A fortress is a place one stays during an attack - it was a place of safety. For the rich man - his wealth can prevent him from a quick ruin by difficult circumstances. One example for us to remember is the wisdom of setting aside money for problems that we know will come in the future. The man who acquires some wealth can set aside money for problems that ARE going to come. In our society, if you own a car or other mechanical item, you are assured that a breakdown of some sort is in your future. If you spend everything you have - you will not have anything set aside for this difficulty. The wise man acquires wealth for this very purpose. He puts money away for the repair and replacement of such items. Therefore when a difficult time comes, he has money for these things. The poor man often is ruined by such situations. He does not know what to do and often sees ruin come to his financial picture because of debt he obtains seeking to fix or replace things or he just has to do without, which could be a very problematic hardship. Wealth can be a protection for us.
The problem with this proverb is that one might think wealth is the ultimate protection. Therefore we must gain wealth however we can. Such thinking is ungodly - and will lead to ruin, if not now - then in eternity. Therefore we have a clarification in the next verse. We are told that the wages or income of the righteous is life - which the income of the wicked is punishment. If we are seeking righteousness - a life that pursues God and desires to do what God says is true and just - we will be blessed. We may not have a tremendous amount of money - but we will have what is necessary at the end of the age. We will have life! The wicked though, however rich they may become, have a serious problem. Their income will be punishment. Thus a man may be tremendously wealthy by all outward appearances - but he may be dirt poor in spirit. The rich farmer in the gospels had enough to tear down his old barns and build new ones to fill with even more earthly riches - but the very night his soul was required - he was found destitute.
Remember that wealth and riches are defined in a number of different ways in Scripture. They may be physical wealth - or they may be spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. It is wise to remember that to be physically wealthy according to James is to be put in a humble place by God. It is difficult for an earthly rich man to enter heaven - because he has a bad tendency to trust his riches. To be poor is also defined different ways. Whereas it may be a bad thing to be financially poor - it is a blessed state to know that we are poor in spirit. Realizing these things will help us better define true wealth and true poverty.
"I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries. Proverbs 8:20-21
What is the way to wealth in this world? Today many would see that wealth and earthly riches are attainable by any means possible. People do very ungodly things in order to get rich. Yet from what we see here in today's proverb, wisdom says that she wants to give wealth to those who walk in righteousness and justice. So which way is it? The world's way or wisdom's way?
First of all we read in this passage that wisdom walks in a righteous path. The words used here indicate that wisdom always walks this way. This is the very lifestyle of wisdom - to embrace and to walk in righteousness. Therefore we can rightly assume that those who receive the wealth that wisdom endows also walk in this way. Second, we read that wisdom also walks in the middle of the path of justice. The idea here is not that wisdom is trying to walk in the middle - meaning that wisdom sees the path of justice as a tightrope - and that walking wise is a difficult path to follow because it involves walking with a balance. The idea is that there is the road of justice - and wisdom drives right down the middle of it. Wisdom does not hug to one side or the other of the road, trying to live as close to the edge as possible. Instead, wisdom drives right down the middle - choosing the right way every time.
Wisdom walks in this way so that she can offer to men true wealth. When wisdom says this to us, we need to see that she says that she wants to endow those who love her with wealth. The picture painted though is not that our eyes are on the wealth. Our eyes are fixed on wisdom. It is not money we love - it is wisdom. The wealth that she gives us is simply an offshoot of living for her. This is emphasized even further by the next statement made here - "that I may fill their treasuries." For those fixated on wealth and money - they see money as the goal. For those whose hearts are right - they see that wisdom herself is filling their treasuries. The wealth is wisdom and her ways - wisdom and her paths - wisdom and the ability to walk and choose rightly and justly.
Will wisdom gives us money? There are times when this is true - when making a wise choice will help us immediately in the bottom line of our finances. But there are other times when the right and just choice will negatively affect our immediate bottom line. No matter which one it is - the man who truly walks in wisdom and seeks her and her ways is not fixated on his bank account. He longs for wisdom herself. He desires for the wisdom of God to fill the treasuries of his heart and mind all his days. This is the promise of wisdom - not a greed-motivated desire for a fat wallet, but rather a love-motivated desire for the fullness of the mind of Christ as we make every decision of life.
"Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield better
than choicest silver." Proverbs 8:18-19
Wisdom is speaking to us about riches, wealth, honor, and righteousness. We live in a world that thinks it truly understands what it means to be rich and wealthy - yet - from what we read here in Proverbs chapter 8 we will learn that what they are pursuing is not true wealth. Therefore in case we too are confused on this issue it would be wise for us to examine what is written here - and be wise in this area of true riches and wealth.
I find it fascinating that each time wealth or riches is mentioned, these things are qualified in what is mentioned with them. First we see that wisdom will bring us riches and honor. Honor speaks not just of having "fake" honor because you are wealthy. This kind of sychophantic honor is pitiful to watch. We see those who fall over themselves to show honor publicly to those who have a lot of money - yet who may secretly curse them when they are not around them. What Proverbs says is that this rich man also receives honor - but it is true honor due to his wisdom, not due to his having a lot of money. The second phrase says that he will also have "enduring wealth and righteousness." The idea of enduring is something hat lasts. It is durable and not subject to decay or to fading away. But this kind of wealth is found with those who combine it with "righteousness." They have wealth, but they also do what is right in life - regardless of what their wealth could purchase. All these things remind us of what our Lord Jesus Christ said - that we should not work for the riches and wealth that are subject to moth and rust - to decay and to thieves. We should work for and desire the wealth that will last for all eternity. That is what this passage is saying to us as well by qualifying both riches and wealth with honor and righteousness.
Finally, we see in verse 19 that the fruit of wisdom is better than even gold - and the purest gold. The yield of wisdom far outsurpasses even te choicest of silver as well. After speaking of wealth and riches - it is as if wisdom is saying to us that the best wealth and the richest thing is wisdom itself.
From time to time I teach classes on economics to high school students. One of the principles of economics is that due to the fall of man into sin, there will always be a scarcity of what is desired among men. We fell from a garden that was perfect and abundant in every way - to a world where we would have to work for our food and sustenance by the sweat of our brow. Even as we worked hard we would not have a perfect yield because the ground would yield thorns and weeds as we worked it. Thus the principle for us economically after the fall is that there is a limited amount of riches and wealth on this planet. Not everyone will be rich and wealthy with this world's goods. But, by God's grace and through the teaching He offers to us through His Spirit, there is untold riches and wealth when it comes to the wisdom He seeks to teach us. If we would value that wisdom it could be ours without any limits whatsoever. There are true riches and enduring wealth available to any man who chooses true honor and righteousness. What will be your choice this day?
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.