How do you define wealth? Is it a huge bank account, a full refrigerator, a private jet? Most people associate wealth with a huge house filled with possessions or a fancy car (that gets upgraded every few years). Some think that being wealthy is having enough money to do whatever you want all day without having to work at a job. If you look up wealth in the dictionary, it says, “An abundance of valuable possessions or money, the state of being rich; material prosperity, and plentiful supplies of a particular resource.” The synonyms listed were: affluence, prosperity, riches, means, substance, fortune.
Are you starting to get the idea of what most people think of when they think of wealth? For the sake of this post, I’m going to refer to this as “earthly wealth.” But what does the Bible say about wealth? Let’s dive in!
Proverbs 8:20-21 says, “I (wisdom) walk in the way of righteousness. Along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.” NIV (emphasis mine)
I know a few tv preachers who like to take this verse (and others like it) out of context and say things like “if you get right with God, he will give you wealth!” They like to wield the idea that salvation and obedience is the magic wand for getting everything (“earthly wealth”) you want in life. That somehow earthly wealth is connected to our spiritual obedience. Let’s see if this is what the Bible really meant in Proverbs chapter 8.
First let’s remember that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (See Isaiah 55:8-9) He does not always use words in the same way that we do.
In Proverbs 8:21 there are two great examples of this with the words “wealth” and “treasuries.” Chapter 8 is all about wisdom and her call to us. Wisdom’s call is like a proclamation and invitation all rolled together. Prov 8:1 says, “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?”
I wanted to get a grasp on wisdom and what God was trying to show me in Proverbs chapter 8. It feels like a concept that isn’t tangible doesn’t it? At least for me, I realize that God isn’t just talking about earthly wisdom. Whether you want to think about biblical wisdom as natural intelligence or street smarts… he’s really talking about something else, something bigger.
To find the answer to what wisdom really is let’s look at Job 28:28 which says, “And he said to man, (this is Job speaking of God… that God said to man the following:) ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
This tells us that wisdom is the fear of the Lord (also known as obedience to the Lord). So how does this relate back to wealth and treasures?
Let’s take one more look at Proverbs 8:20-21. It says, “I (wisdom) walk in the way of righteousness. Along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.” NIV (emphasis mine)
So if wisdom is obedience to the Lord, we can extrapolate that obedience brings wealth.
WISDOM = OBEDIENCE => WEALTH
Now, let’s get to the crux of it all… Wealth! To help explain how “wealth” here is not “earthly wealth” let’s look at 1 Timothy, so buckle in and stick with me.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
Do you see how wealth actually means life… an eternal abundant life at that. I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “you can’t take it with you!” Right? No matter what we accumulate on this earth, whether it be money, power, fame, possessions… we will not be able to take it with us to Heaven. We won’t need it!
How does that help us today? For me, it’s the realization that accumulation is not the goal. Maybe I need to acquire a few things to be able to take care of my family or myself when I’m old (hello retirement)! But if I live each day with a clenched fist and hoard all that I get, what will that ultimately profit me?
I find as I draw nearer to God and try to see the world through His eyes… that it’s all temporary and the only thing that will matter in a billion years from now is… How did I love? How did I share Christ with others? Did I point people to Him? Maintaining a healthy outlook helps me to want less “earthly wealth” and more of what is everlasting.
My prayer today is that I never seek after earthly wealth more than Christ. I pray that the Holy Spirit helps me to remember that everything in this life is temporary and the only thing that ultimately matters is our relationship with Christ. Amen.