The Rich And the Poor
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying together. We have been studying the second division of the book of Proverbs which begins with chapter 10 and ends with chapter 22, verse 16. It contains 375 proverbs, all of them referred to as The Personal Proverbs of Solomon . We have been studying these personal proverbs of Solomon for quite some time and before we are through, we will make a reference to every one of the 375. We have done that with most of them already.

I would like to remind you, as we begin this study, of what the Spirit of God has recorded in II Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16:

II Timothy 3:

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I make that comment because the subject that we are going to discuss may not necessarily be applicable to everybody here; it may not be applicable in every instance to anyone here. Almost as soon as I say that, I would expect thinking people to say, “Then why do you take our time discussing a portion of the Word of God such as this?”

My other reason is found in Ephesians, chapter 4, where we are reminded that one of the gifted individuals given to the Body of Christ is the pastor/teacher. It is his responsibility to teach the Word that the Body of Christ might learn the Word and that the Body of Christ might minister the Word for the building of the Body of Christ—the edifying of the Body of Christ.

Oftentimes when you are being taught the Word of God, what is taught will not necessarily apply to you, but you should be very alert in your attention and very open in your receptiveness so that when the Spirit of God directs someone to you for help, you will know where to turn in the Scripture for that help.

I do not want to be misunderstood in this next statement that I am going to make. I always welcome the opportunity to counsel with anybody, and when you do have some friend or some relative whom you feel we could help with counseling, always feel free to call upon us because our time is your time.

Having said that, may I remind you that you have a responsibility as a believer to be familiar with the Word of God so that when any individuals come to you for questions, you can direct them to the Word of God for the answers which they need. With that preface to the remarks we are going to make, we trust that you will give your very careful attention.

Rich and Poor Equal Before the Lord

In our study of the book of Proverbs we have recognized that they are not topically nor chronologically arranged, so it has been our practice to select some principle of truth and gather around that principle all of the proverbs that deal with it so that all of the facets of that particular truth might be made known to us. The principle that we have selected for our discussion in this lesson might be expressed in the terms the rich and the poor . We are going to examine the proverbs that deal with this subject, and the basis for all of our discussion is going to be found in the one thing that the rich and the poor have in common. Notice, please, what is recorded in Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 2:

Proverbs 22:

2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.

It might be more accurate in the light of the real sense of the verse to say, “The rich and the poor are equal before the Lord. He is the maker of them all.”

In the society in which we live, riches and poverty do make a difference. This is not new to the twentieth century. When the Lord Jesus Christ was on the earth, He rebuked the practice that was very common among the believers of that day. When James was writing his epistle, evidently the practice was being continued in the Christian church because he said practically the same thing about it that the Lord Jesus Christ said. They both said that there is something about all of us which causes us to be impressed with riches, which causes us to be impressed with position. When a rich man comes into the assembly, there is a tendency to give him some very special kind of attention. A poor man might come into the assembly and go completely unnoticed. Emphasis in the Word of God is placed upon the fact that this is not always deliberate on the part of the people involved. Sometimes it is an unconscious attitude that is accomplished hardly before we know what is going on. Perhaps if we could recognize riches and poverty in their right light, we would avoid such errors as this.

There are other things about riches which we are going to learn that might stand us all in good stead, whether we be rich or whether we be poor. You will notice more is said about riches than is said about poverty, and the reason is that poverty, as we shall see, presents no real problem in one's relationship with God unless it is the problem of bitterness because the individual concerned seems to be left out of things.

The Lord Jesus Christ said through Timothy to all believers of all ages, in I Timothy, chapter 6, verse 9:

I Timothy 6:

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

The Lord Jesus Christ, in giving a parable concerning the effectiveness of the Word of God, describes it in the matter of sowing seed. He said, “Some seed fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air, representing Satan and his emissaries, immediately devoured it before it had a chance to grow up; but some fell upon stony ground and because it had no root, it sprung up quickly and would give the appearance of flourishing; but it was not long before, as the Lord Jesus Christ used the term, the deceitfulness of riches made their appearance and smothered out the effectiveness of the Word which was planted” (Matthew 13:18-22).

Delusion of Riches

We would like to notice with you what the wise man has to say about the deceitfulness of riches. He has quite a bit to say about the delusions of riches, and delusion is just as good a word as deceitful . As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word is translated in both ways.

One of the delusions that rich men have is described for us in Proverbs, chapter 10, verse 15. It explains how many men who are depending upon their riches are deluded in the fashion described:

Proverbs 10:

15 The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.

For the moment we are interested in the first part of the proverb: “the rich man's wealth is his strong city…” The word for strong city is one in Hebrew. Elsewhere it is translated by our English word fortress . The suggestion is that the riches of the rich man represent his fortress in the sense that his money can protect him from any evil that might come his way; but if you will turn to Proverbs, chapter 18, which says practically the same thing, you will recognize that this is the figment of his own imagination, for the fortress to which we make reference is not a secure one at all. Notice Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 11:

Proverbs 18:

11 The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.

It is the last statement of this verse which attracts our attention at the moment: “…in his own conceit this is true.” In his own imagination, in his own reasoning, his wealth represents a fortress and a high wall that no man can break through.

We could examine passages of Scripture which would indicate that wealth is a very definite blessing of the Lord for which men who are entrusted with it should be exceedingly grateful, but we are not talking about that phase of the question. We are talking about men who are rich who do not recognize the source of their riches and have become deluded in their thinking that because they are rich, they live in a strong fortress that will provide them adequate protection from all evil in this life. There are others who fall under the delusion that riches guarantee certain success. Laboring under this delusion, they cannot envision any kind of failure. Notice what is recorded in Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 28:

Proverbs 11:

28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

“He that trusteth in his riches…” Notice where he puts his trust. He is riding for a fall. Eventually, those riches will be swept away and he will have nothing upon which he can depend. On the other hand, the righteous (There is no qualification as to whether the righteous here is a rich man or a poor man.) will most certainly flourish because they are depending not upon their riches nor their poverty (The destruction of the poor can be their poverty as we learned in the first proverb to which mention was made.), but their righteousness in Christ which guarantees their victory.

Eternal Security

Naturally, a discussion of riches would not be complete if we limited our remarks to that which is related only to the temporal, so we remind you of proof that is presented in relation to eternity. We refer to it as eternal security . Look at Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 4:

Proverbs 11:

4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

The day of wrath here is the judgment day, the Great White Throne Judgment. We are told that riches will not profit in that day. Of course, the idea is that an individual who is trusting in his riches will offer his riches on that day for the smallest place in Heaven, but it will all be to no avail. Only righteousness will matter in that day, and that is true whether the individual concerned is rich or whether the individual happens to be poor.

Don't misunderstand what I say and think that I am suggesting that righteous people will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment because such will not be the case. We learn in Romans, chapter 8, verse 1:

Romans 8:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…

Men who stand at the Great White Throne Judgment—unbelievers—will be examined for their righteousness and will be condemned for their lack of it because they will be examined in relation to their deeds, good or bad, to see if in the thinking of man one could outweigh the other. Of course, such is an impossibility. The only thing that matters in this world and the world to come is righteousness.

The Danger of Riches

Another delusion under which men labor in relation to riches, we have been pleased to refer to as the danger of riches . There are some very real dangers related to being rich. In our day there is a danger that has been mentioned in the book of Proverbs since the very beginning of its writing, but it is something that has grown into greater significance in our country as riches have increased. I couldn't help but be amused when I read this portion of the Word. Perhaps amused isn't the word, but interested in the accuracy of the Word of God, the up-to-dateness of God's Word because one of the dangers with which men have to live, particularly if they have children and certainly if they are in certain geographical locations, is the danger of kidnapping. Notice, please, Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 8:

Proverbs 13:

8 The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.

The way that this is expressed in our King James text, the idea of kidnapping is not as evident as it is in the original text. For that reason we offer you the rendering of The Living Bible presentation which brings forcefully home in a few words what I have just suggested to you: “Being kidnapped and held for ransom never worries the poor man.” That speaks volumes in relation to the text at hand. One of the dangers, then, that the rich man has to face is related to the danger that he himself faces.

The Danger of False Friends

There is another danger, and the only other one mentioned in the book of Proverbs. Perhaps there is no need to mention any other one because the danger that we consider with you right at the moment provides enough trouble for him. The danger about which more is said in the book of Proverbs is related to false friends who are attracted by the riches of the rich man. The man who is exceedingly wealthy sometimes has to really examine his associations to see how many friends he has because he is who he is and not because he has what he has. Of course, we have seen over and over again the reality of rich men coming upon hard times and then finding out who their friends are.

Notice what is written in chapter 14, verse 20:

Proverbs 14:

20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.

Of course, this word hate here is a relative term and as it is often used in the Scripture, it does not mean that bitter animosity that wishes an individual ill will, but it is that feeling of not wanting to associate with the individual concerned. We might read, “The poor doesn't even have a close friend in his own neighbor, but the rich hath many friends.” The putting the two statements together into one proverb indicates the reason for the many friends of the rich. It is his wealth, and that is the reason we refer to them as false friends .

Turn to chapter 19, and notice verse 4:

Proverbs 19:

4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Here we are finding exactly the same principle established. The words are a little different. Notice again:

Proverbs 19:

4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

If there is any question in anybody's mind as to the money's being the reason for the friendship, that question should be answered in that verse. Look down at chapter 19, verse 7, and you will find reference again to the same subject in slightly different words. Notice:

Proverbs 19:

7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

The suggestion in this verse related to the poor man is that all of the kinfolk of the poor man hate him; that is, they don't want to have anything to do with him. Rare, except, perhaps, in devout Christian circles, is the man who loves his poor kinfolks and is ready to take care of all of their needs every time a need is committed. Usually the kinfolks of the poor man will not want to have anything to do with him. His friends even go far from him, for when a poor man approaches, his friends say, “Let's get out of the way. He is coming for a handout.” Some poor people can be very persistent and can make themselves rather obnoxious, and this is the sense in the last statement in verse 7. Notice:

Proverbs 19:

7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

That is, He runs after them imploringly and yet cannot find them. He goes to them with a heartrending story and still they are not available to him, but the rich man doesn't have this problem because rich men are constantly faced with the danger of false friends who love what they have more than what they are.

The Diminishing of Ill-Gotten Wealth

If wealth could be a permanent thing, it would be worth bearing somehow, and the emphasis upon the wealthy would not seem so important, but the wise man who certainly had had great experience with riches would not finish his story without saying something about the diminishing of ill-gotten wealth. The reason we are using that term is that we do believe that when God is pleased to prosper a man, it is in the will of God for him to be prospered. God may continue to prosper him or He may take that prosperity away; and the individual who is depending upon the Lord, though he may be inconvenienced, is not greatly concerned. He is able to say, as Job said, “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job was the wealthiest man in the East, and God made Him so. God also took it away and yet, after due time, in God's own providential schedule, Job was restored to his wealth and his wealth was restored to him exceedingly more than he had in the beginning. So we are using the term ill-gotten wealth in the sense that it is gotten either through dishonest means or through the corrupt greed of men who, as Paul said, “willed to be rich.” We are not talking about wealth by honest, industrious effort. They willed to do it, and they willed to be rich regardless of the cost that it might take, and so we speak first to you of wealth that is gotten in haste. It is brought to our attention in Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 11, and the wise man would have us know that wealth that is gotten in haste has a way of diminishing before people think it should. Notice verse 11:

Proverbs 13:

11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

The word vanity here is a word that speaks of emptiness. It could refer to any of the thousand and one get-rich-quick schemes that are brought to our attention in our day. God says that the man who gets his wealth by vanity—that is, not by real personal effort—can expect it to be diminished because the proverb should be examined in the light of the comparisons that are presented in it. You will notice the two: “Wealth gotten by vanity or empty effort, shall be diminished, but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.” The man who puts forth an honest effort at gaining wealth can be blessed of the Lord.

Notice chapter 20, verse 21, where somewhat the same idea is emphasized to us, and we read it for the sake of double emphasis. Notice:

Proverbs 20:

21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

The suggestion is that if an inheritance or wealth is gotten hastily, everything about it may not be as honest as it should have been. It may not be as righteous as it could have been, and so God cannot put His blessing upon it. And since God is not able to put His blessing upon it, there is nothing left but for God to refuse to bless it in the final analysis. It may seem, in the process of obtaining the wealth, that the blessing of God is there because individuals quite wrongly interpret success with the blessing of God, and this is not necessarily so.

There is the matter of wealth that is gotten by bribery which God cannot bless, and since it cannot be blessed, God must let it diminish. Notice chapter 22, verse 16:

Proverbs 22:

16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

For the moment we are going to pass over the first statement of the proverb because we are going to have something to say about that later. We are interested, at the moment in the last part of the proverb: “…and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” The very rendering of this in our King James text is rather confusing. Notice again:

Proverbs 22:

16 …and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Why would anyone want to give anything to the rich, and why would that necessarily mean that they would be in want if they did? A better word for the word give is the word bribe . It would read: “…and he that tries to bribe the rich man shall surely come to want,” an individual who comes to the rich man and says, “I have a scheme that will work, but it needs money to work. You supply the money and I'll supply the know-how and we will both be rich.”

Of course, the scheme in question is not one that is honoring to the Lord and so God says that it will come to nought. It cannot be blessed. He dare not bless it; it would be inconsistent with His righteousness if He did. The individual who enters into such as that shall know the meaning of poverty.

Greedy Individuals Bring Trouble Upon Their Own Household

There is one last suggestion as to ill-gotten gain and the reason they are ill-gotten and why God cannot bless them. It can be summed up in the word greed . Turn to Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 27:

Proverbs 15:

27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

Notice the individual who is greedy of gain. What happens to him? He is going to bring trouble upon his own house. Individuals who deal with matters of discipline in relation to young people—law enforcement officers, probation officers, individuals who deal with young people who are in trouble—quite often deal with young people from wealthy homes. When they try to get to the bottom of the whole problem, sometimes the parents themselves say, “I can't understand this. I have given to this child everything that money could buy.” Those who are interested in the area to which I have made reference could reply, and sometimes do, almost immediately, “This is the problem. You have given them everything that money could buy, but you have been so busy, so greedy of gain, that you have brought trouble upon your own home.”

Probably none of us here are rich in the sense that the world speaks of riches, but it might be wise for us to pause and wonder if we are ignoring a principle that is applicable, regardless of the size of our fortune. Are we so greedy of gain, are we so greedy to make that extra dollar or that increase in salary to the extent that we are neglecting our family? God says, “The man who is greedy for money will bring trouble to his household,” and in the light of what we learn in other passages of Scripture, I am quite confident that the troubles which the Spirit of God refers to here is none other than the disciplinary problems that arise in the lives of their children.

Wrong Attitude Reproaches God

I said to you a few moments ago that we were going to say something about the poor, and for that reason we would not elaborate on the statement that came to our attention. In thinking about what Solomon has to say about the rich and the poor, he calls to our attention the attitude toward the poor that the man of wealth ought to have. Here again we should probably pay close attention and not excuse ourselves because we feel that we are not particularly men of wealth. I hope you are noticing distinctions we are emphasizing as some of us here would never need to worry about being kidnapped for money. I hope you are not thinking that the application would not be apropos. What I am going to say about the attitude toward the poor is something that all of us need to consider, regardless of the amount of our fortunes; because if we do not have the correct attitude toward the poor, we are told that the wrong attitude reproaches our Maker. Notice what is recorded in Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 31:

Proverbs 14:

31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

To oppress would naturally, in the light of this text, indicate a lack of mercy and understanding toward the poor. The individual who oppresses the poor does not only oppress the poor; he reproaches God. He brings a reproach upon the name of Christ.

John deals with this in his epistle when he is speaking about loving in deed and truth and not in word only. He says to believers, “If you find a poor man who is hungry and you say to him, ‘I love you. God loves you. Go and be filled,' the poor man has a real difficulty believing that you love him or that God loves him; but if you feed him and then say, ‘I love you and God loves you,' he will be willing to listen to what you have to say.”

Keep in mind that when you have an opportunity to deal with the poor, before you just eliminate your interest in them, what you do is indicating how you feel about God—whether you are reproaching Him or whether you are honoring Him. For further emphasis on this same truth, turn to chapter 17, verse 5:

Proverbs 17:

5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

Here emphasis is placed on practically the same thing and yet there is a difference. Here the individual not only oppresses the poor, but he mocks the poor. He makes fun of the poor, and he is rather glad at their misfortunes. It is difficult to understand how anyone could be glad at the misfortune of another, but this is relative phraseology. The suggestion is that the rejoicing is that sad is the man who has had the misfortune instead of my having the misfortune. I should be as much concerned about his condition as he is.

Turning a Deaf Ear

Another suggestion that Solomon rebukes in relation to our attitude with the poor I have referred to as turning a deaf ear . Oftentimes when the poor come to us with their entreaty, instead of listening carefully to what their needs are and wanting to do something about it, we turn a deaf ear to what they have to say and are not willing to let the Spirit of God lead us in what we can do for them. This is something that we all should consider, I re-emphasize, regardless of our respective fortune. Turn to Proverbs, chapter 21, verse 13:

Proverbs 21:

13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

The individual who puts his fingers in his ears, figuratively speaking, so he will not have to hear the cry of the poor will someday be in the place where he will need help. God has promised that it will not be forthcoming.

I am sure, if you are thinking, you can think of any number of people who have turned a deaf ear to the cry of the poor, and it doesn't seem as if they have any particular problems, so you wonder if what I have been saying to you is true. We remind you that this is the Word of the living God. Consequently, it is true whether we see examples of it or not.

Sharing the Wealth

Solomon has something to say about something that in the phraseology I am going to use sounds very modern. He has something to say about sharing the wealth. We hear a lot about that in this day in which we live. Of course, the folk who are talking about sharing the wealth are not talking about it in the same sense that the Bible is or that I am. Many individuals who talk about sharing the wealth are talking about taking away from the haves and giving to the have nots, and the balance is still the same. The Bible does have something to say about sharing the wealth, but it presents it as a voluntary responsibility. There is a principle, God says in His Word, where an individual sharing the wealth appears to be contradictory in what he does. Notice Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 24:

Proverbs 11:

24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

We have two kinds of people who engage in sharing the wealth: folk who practice scattering and those who practice withholding. They are individuals who are generous in their giving. That is the suggestion of the person who scatters, and his generosity does not seem to deplete his fortune. Instead of depleting it, it seems to increase. Then there is the individual who is afraid to give generously, so he withholds more than he needs. He withholds more than he should. God speaks to an individual about sharing in some enterprise in the interest of the cause of Christ and the individual does; and someone may say, “I don't know how he can afford to do that, but somehow it is always there to give when he wants to give it.” Then there are some souls who believe in being wise, so they withhold. They say, “We just can't give to everything.” In withholding, they withhold more than they should, and when they withhold more than they should, they find themselves not gaining. They find themselves losing instead of gaining.

Abounding Grace

I do not believe, as I have emphasized times without number, in the teaching of tithing, which is based upon the Old Testament, because I do not believe that it is a principle of New Testament giving. People who do believe in that principle will tell you that if you tithe, you will be blessed. That means that you will get rich. They say if you don't tithe, you will lose and get poor. There might have been a sense, since we are speaking of the Old Testament, in which Solomon had something like this in mind; but when you recognize another suggestion that I have termed abounding grace , because the words in the Old Testament sound almost like New Testament language, I am reminded that there is a principle of New Testament giving amplified in the Old Testament. Notice, please, what is recorded in Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 25:

Proverbs 11:

25 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

For further emphasis along that line, turn to Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 9:

Proverbs 22:

9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Listen carefully to what I am going to say to you, as I ask you to turn with me first to Philippians, chapter 4, verse 19. This is a promise which I am sure you have rested upon for many years, for I have certainly rested upon it as well, but I would like for you to notice, in the context of the verse, a truth that is oftentimes neglected. Notice verse 9:

Philippians 4:

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

That verse, lifted out of context, is claimed by many believers that God shall supply our every need, and this is absolutely true by virtue of principle of obligation; but if you read very carefully the verses surrounding this one, you will find that the promise is contingent upon the fact that these Philippian believers had practically made themselves penniless to help with Paul's work. They had made themselves penniless to help in his work and Paul said, “Now, don't you worry. God will supply all of your needs. You supplied mine; God will supply yours.” As we suggested to you in the proverb at which we looked, the man with a bountiful eye shall be blessed, and the man who gives forth that which he has shall be watered again.

Another portion that I would like to notice in the New Testament is in II Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 7:

II Corinthians 9:

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Now, notice:

II Corinthians 9:

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Price Control

That is the reason I have referred to the kind of giving described in Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 25, as abounding grace . Beloved, this is the right way to share the wealth, and this is the only way to share the wealth that God puts His approval upon. There is a wrong way to share the wealth that is mentioned in the book of Proverbs, and I refer to it in terms familiar to us in this generation in which we live as price control . Reference is made to it in Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 26:

Proverbs 11:

26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

You are well aware that individually some people withhold certain things from the market until the price is right. Some people have made fortunes that way. They have withheld wheat, coffee, what have you until the price is right and have sold it and made a fortune. Others have held it thinking they could control the prices, and the bottom has fallen out and they have lost everything.

What individuals at one time did, the government has begun to do and is in the process of doing, and in order to share the wealth, in the sense that we are speaking about, there are storehouses all over this country filled with government commodities that are so designed to control the prices and, in controlling the prices, controlling the economy and, in controlling the economy, control the wealth. You can read about that in your newspapers and periodicals and we will not take time to discuss it other than to remind you that the thing about which I have been speaking is a violation of a Scriptural principle.

The Lord Jesus Christ said in Luke, chapter 16, to the people to whom He had been speaking, “If you have been unfaithful in an unrighteous manner, how can I give to you true riches?” We are not going to comment on what the Lord Jesus Christ had to say. That would be a study in itself, but I have brought it to your attention to emphasize that there are riches and there are true riches, and your life, to be blessed, should be governed by the area in which you put your emphasis.

True Riches

For example, it is possible for you to be rich, says Solomon, and, in being rich, have absolutely nothing. It is possible for you to be poor, Solomon says, and, in being poor, be the richest person in the world. When he makes this suggestion, he is talking about true riches. Notice Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 7:

Proverbs 13:

7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

The principle is enunciated throughout the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ said that every man has to face the reality of whether he is going to gain the world and lose his own soul, or lose the world and gain his own soul. There are individuals today who are rich as far as material goods are concerned, and their lives are empty and bitter. There are individuals today who are poor as far as earthly goods are concerned, and their lives are full of wealth that a materialistically minded man would give all of his wealth to possess.

There are some things that you can have, or that you ought to want to have, instead of riches if you are going to have to make a choice. Remember now, you don't always have to make the choice. As I said a moment ago and I emphasize again, in the will of God it is perfectly possible for you to be rich and have everything that you ought to have. We are talking only about those who place the emphasis upon the wrong places.

Conclusion

Turn to Proverbs, chapter 15, verse 16:

Proverbs 15:

16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

If you have to choose between little and peace and great treasure and trouble, then choose the little because if it is related to your reverence for God (That is what the fear of the Lord means.), you would be a very foolish person to choose the life without God and live in a house that is marked with great trouble.

Then another suggestion very much like the one above—little as opposed to great revenue. Here the proverb is found in chapter 16, verse 8:

Proverbs 16:

8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

The righteousness here is that righteousness that is first imputed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ and results in the right kind of living that enables us to lay our head on our pillow at night and go to sleep with a clear conscious, knowing that with the Apostle Paul we are void of offense toward God and toward man.


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