If you asked most people if they would rather have riches or righteousness - most likely most would answer that they would like riches. That is due to two facts. First it is due to the fact that mankind is lost and ignorant of their true position before God. Second, it is due to the fact that the rich man in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man - has not yet had his message broadcast to the world as he would have wanted.
Proverbs tells us that riches do not profit us in the day of wrath. If riches are all that we have - we are seriously in trouble. Note that we read here of the day of wrath. This refers to the day that God releases His wrath on those who have rejected His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be a sobering day indeed for the rich. They have stored up their wealth when they should have used it for the glory of God and the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. On that day, their riches will mean nothing. Honored on earth among men - riches are despised in heaven - unless they have been used for the glory of God.
Two men would love to testify to this fact. The first is the rich man who did nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering of a poor beggar named Lazarus. He lay at the rich man's gate, his only ministers dogs that licked his sores. HE longed to be fed with the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. He received nothing from him. On the day of God's wrath - the rich man was cast into hell and Lazarus was taken into Abraham's bossom - to await the day he would be taken to heaven. The rich man - suffering miserably - asked that someone be sent to tell his brothers of this place. He knew that riches would not deliver in that day - only righteousness would do. The second man who would love to testify would be the rich farmer who thought he had it made because he had a bumper crop. Faced with filled barns already, he wondered what to do with his wealth. He decided to build bigger barns, fill them and then say to himself that he was set for life. He trusted riches, not righteousness. He lost. The Lord called this man a fool and told him that he would die that night - and what would he do for his own soul.
Riches will not profit us in that day when we face the judgment of God. Only righteousness will do. Actually, only a certain kind of righteousness will do too. That is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That alone will stand in that awful day. Nothing else will matter except that we've repented and turned in faith to Jesus Christ. What He did on the cross will pay for our sins - what He did will allow us to be credited with a perfect righteousness that will cause us to be accepted before God. Only what He did - only His righteousness will matter. It will save us from death.
In light of this truth - what are YOU trusting in on the day of God's wrath? You may think it is not coming - that God is too nice to judge anyone. The fact of Scripture is to the contrary. God will judge - He will call us to an accounting - and He will accept only one thing on that day to make us acceptable in His sight. Oh that we would be wise and run to the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. Oh that we would open our eyes and be aware of the horror of that day for those who trust anything other than the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. It alone can deliver from death. Any other thing will fail eternally. Now let me ask the question . . . On the day of God's wrath what do you want to have - riches or righteousness?