What brings a person riches and honor? That is widely debated in our world today. There are those who act with pride and isolence - who step on whoever they need to step on to get to the top. They use questionable tactics and ungodly ways to gather their riches and they demand honor from their subordinates. The problem is that once they leave this life - they leave their so-called honor and riches behind - and enter into eternal poverty. The other problem is that while in this life honor is not afforded to them except by threats - and their riches are in danger of someone just like them - who would gladly take them away and toss them on the trash heap of those who were formerly rich and famous.
God gives us wisdom as to the place of lasting riches, honor - and most of all life. These three must come in their trio-form for a person to truly be rich and truly be honored. For what honor is there in hell? What riches await those burning in flame and eaten by worms? Without life in eternity our earthly honor will mock us as the ages pile upon the ages. Without life our riches will slip through our hands like one trying to grasp and hold oil.
The way to these things is through humility. We read in the Word that God resists the proud. That the Lord hates the proud look and the arrogant heart. Temporary riches and deceptive honor may come without humility - but the real thing demands it. The wise man realizes that at the top of all things is God - and the true "way to the top" comes as we humble ourselves before Him. History is littered with those who thought they could become the big cheese - yet in the end - only smelled like it. When we humble ourselves before God - we place ourselves in the path of blessing. The truly wise man embraces humility and his own weaknesses. He even glories in them because he knows that as he sees himself weak - then God becomes strong in his life - his choices - and his actions.
God also speaks through this proverb to tell us that the other twin of riches, honor, and life is the fear of the Lord. This is a respect and intrinsic honor shown to God, His Word, and His judgment on all matters. We are told at the very beginning of Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Without a proper fear of God - we will degenerate into a pride and self-assuredness that will lead us astray from wisdom. This fear of God often begins with a terror initially as we grasp Who God is - and where we stand before Him. Imagine the moment Paul grasped the true fear of the Lord. He had settled into a self-assured sense of his own right-ness in his religious views and stands. This had led him to the point of persecuting Christians to the death - and imprisoning others. On his way to Damascus to continue his unholy war on the church - Jesus Christ manifest His ultimate power and knocked Paul off his horse and blinded his eyes with light. Imagine the fear that must have gripped Paul when he heard that the answer to "Who are you Lord?" was, "I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting." The fear of God had to almost paralyze this man who lay on the road. But that moment of terror was also the beginning of wisdom for Paul. It led him away from a religion of effort and self-righteousness - to the true wisdom of God's grace in the gospel.
There are many voices telling us how to be rich, honored, and truly alive in this world. Unless they are telling us that the way to these things is through the path of humility and the fear of God . . . they are wrong. God will resist those who take other messages than this one. But for those who embrace humility and the fear of the Lord - there is a wealth, an honor, and life that can never be taken from them. Truly theirs is the wise way of achieving them - and holding to them forever.