“There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”
Solomon is suggesting it is possible to have earthly possessions and yet to possess nothing of true value. At the same time, it is possible to have next to nothing, and have great wealth. He is not saying wealth is evil and poverty is good, but that within God’s economy, some things are of much greater value than others. The Bible teaches us there are three things that are eternal, and investments made in these areas will give a person lasting riches.
First off, God Himself is eternal. Before the universe existed, there was God. He is the un-caused cause that brought all other things into being. He is the source of all life, and the one who holds all things together. He is the one to whom we will give an account when our lives run their course. While it is not wrong to make capital investments and to store up for your family’s future, we must not do it at the expense of investing in a relationship with God. The most important investment we make is a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Second, the Word of God is eternal. The writer of Hebrews explained that one day the heavens above us and the earth we stand upon, will be folded like a garment and replaced, but the Word of God will last forever (Hebrews 1:11-12). Every promise of God is eternal, and every investment of the Word of God in our lives, will bring eternal benefits. Often, the thing that keeps us from investing time in the Word, is the fact that we do not think it makes a difference. The reality is, when time has run its course, and the things of this life are a distant memory, we will still be reaping the benefits of our investments in the Word of God.
Finally, the Bible teaches us that the souls of men and women are eternal. God has done everything possible for each and every person to spend eternity with Him. He sent His Son to die for us, His Spirit to draw us, and His church to be an influence to win us. When we realize how much others matter to God, and we seek to influence them for eternity, we are making investments that will outlast time. The most important place where these investments are made is within the home.
There is nothing wrong with making earthly investments. There is nothing inherently wrong with riches, or with enjoying much of the pleasures that come with wealth. However, there are things of much greater value than stocks portfolios, profit margins and real estate holdings. The things that matter most, are the things that last forever. Don’t neglect to store up riches where they really matter.
Questions for Proverbs 13
1. We know that our words can cut and destroy. James 3:5 tells us, “even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” Another translation states, “So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do.” The aim in verse 3 is to prevent rash talk and this reminder is appropriate for any age. Are you stopping and thinking before you speak? The old Arab proverb says, “Take heed that your tongue does not cut your throat.”
2. Verse 2 teaches us not to trust in appearances and honesty is better than pretension. There are some people who may not be what they seem to be. Some who are poor pretend to be rich for social reasons. (Luke 12:21, Revelation 3:17) Some that are rich pretend to be poor. The miser lives to protect himself from requests for assistance or from possibly being robbed. Perhaps it is to conceal his wealth and to avoid responsibilities. God is calling us to be who we are, to be honest people, and unpretentious. Are you putting up a front to be somebody you are not? An empty display or a concealing of means can come to no good.
3. Verse 10 tells us that those who are wise listen to advise rather than argue out of stubborn pride. Is it hard for you to say, “I was wrong,” or “I need advise? Every quarrel has pride as an ingredient. This type of pride has contempt for other’s opinions. Pride always means enmity. It is enmity to God. Are you open to the advice of others? Examine your life for pride. Ask for help when you need it and avoid strife.
4. In verse 12, hope postponed makes the heart sick and earthly hope can be a very disappointing season of life. (Hoping for something that doesn’t come to pass.) Are you in a season of “hope deferred?” Be encouraged. Biblical hope is a confident expectation that what you hope is going to happen. Pastor Titus tells us to be looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. We can live our life in anticipation of that promise of God. It gives us the proper perspective on material things and how we should be living our lives knowing that He could come at any time.
5. We were created by God for His good pleasure. He knows us and loves us beyond our comprehension of love. It only makes sense to listen to ABBA Father and do what He says. But in verse 13, we have a definite contrast between obedience to God’s unfailing Word and rejecting it. If you were a brand new vehicle you would come with an owner’s manual to help you “run right.” If we fail to maintain regular preventive maintenance we will fail. Are you hearing from God everyday by reading His instructions to us?
6. Verse 20 teaches us the result of associating with wise people or fools. Paul said, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) There is safety and growth in proper company. There is also a positive influence on those who spend time with wise men. On the other hand, the companion of the fool suffers harm and becomes like those whom he is hanging with. Take some time and pray to the Father and examine who is influencing you. Are you spending time with people you want to be like?
7. In verse 24, parental love is displayed in disciplining the children responsibly. There is a balance between too lenient and too harsh. The Bible teaches corporal punishment whether the modern experts agree or not. The parent who spares his rod might think he is showing love. God calls it hatred. The parent that loves their children doesn’t condone bad behavior but disciplines them promptly. The balance comes when the child has room to grow while learning the limits. Are you afraid to discipline your children even though God himself says it is an act of love?
Obadiah 1- It’s All Mine