The thirteenth chapter of proverbs again addresses what is means to be successful in the eyes of the Lord. Riches and wealth are discussed with relationship to our work habits, our savings habits and our relationship to God and His word. Other things like discipline, contentment and our speech are also mentioned.
"Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked." (v6)
The first five verses contrast the ways that the righteous and unrighteous work and speak. I think that this verse ties those verses together. My desire is to show myself blameless in the way that I work and speak.. not that it is easy :)
"One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." (v7)
Albert Barnes comments on this verse in this way: "There is a seeming wealth behind which there lies a deep spiritual poverty and wretchedness. There is a poverty which makes a person rich for the kingdom of God." Reminds me what Jesus said in the Beatitudes of how we are blessed when we are poor in spirit.
"Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it." (v11)
For me the heart of conservatism is not only the way that we use the resources that God has entrusted to us but how those resources are acquired. Many who preach the health and wealth gospel sometimes advocate a manner of receiving that is not consistent with this verse when they speak of how God wants to lavish wealth on folks who simply pray but are not faithful to work and accumulate "little by little".
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (v12)
There is a difference between hope and expectations.. many times we pray and expect life to change.. this is not what hope is all about. Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint. If we find ourselves in a place of disappointment we should consider evaluating our expectations.
"Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded." (v13)
I heard it said once that you really do not break the scriptures - they break you. I have brought destruction on myself and on my family by breaking not so much the letter of God's word but the spirit of it.
"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." (v20)
Much of this chapter is reflective of this verse.. and lest we think it does not relate to we church folks.. my experience is that some of my worst behaviors (i.e. works righteousness, judgmentalism and legalism) were learned amongst fellow believers.
"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous." (v17)
The idea of leaving a legacy is a scriptural one for sure. Do you have a legal will? How about a spiritual one? What kind of legacy are you leaving?
"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." (v24)
This is probably one of the most over-quoted verses in the bible. Proverbs 29:15 expands on the verse a bit more saying that the rod and reproof give wisdom. I think that the environment of discipline should always be within the bounds of a loving relationship.. loving words should always accompany any form of discipline.
"The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want." (v25)
The hallmark of a believer is one of a contented life. Better to have a little with God that a lot without Him.
If you liked this post then please click here to catch some of my other ponderings on the book of Proverbs.