Last night in church we heard a message based on the first three of the beatitudes of Matthew 5. I had recently gone through the beatitudes on two different occasions. One gave me a message very similar to the one I heard last night, the other was very different. The Holy Spirit enhances, speaks, and communicates different things to each of us when we read the word. He will even teach us different things when we read the same passages on different occasions.
That is the case especially with books like Proverbs. We must read it very personally, and ask God to reveal to us what He will. There are so many wonderful thing to teach us. Having just completed Revelation, I was unsure what book to begin today, but God told me to write today’s devotional on today’s chapter of Proverbs, so here it is, with what He highlighted for me.
Verses 1-7 read,
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
but a just weight is his delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.
7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish,
and the expectation of wealth perishes too.
A false balance is what the dishonest use to cheat people from their money. It says that what they are selling is worth more than what it is. It is a lie in pursuit of wealth. It can be very tempting to pursue money rather than God. It is tempting to seek our own provision rather than depending on God for His.
But seeking money over the Lord leads to destruction. If instead of letting God be God, asking for help and saying “I need you Lord,” we rely on ourselves we become proud, we give a false impression to the world that we do not need God and neither do they. Dependency on God will provide our every need for us. When he was talking about seeking our own provision and wealth, Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34).
Money may help us here and now, but on The Day of the Lord, it will not save us. We can’t buy our way into the Lamb’s Book of Life. Only Jesus can write our name there and only His blood can be the payment to make us righteous. Pursuing money leads to pride, pride will make us one of the wicked. Pursuing God leads to humility and that brings righteousness.
Once we begin looking for the material things, we want more and more of them. My phone recently broke. I had an iPhone 4. I bought it used with a broken screen, little space, and some problems. Now that it is broken I need to replace it, I could replace it with a perfectly working iPhone 4 for very cheap. But what do I want? I want the new iPhone (or at least a newer one). I want the bells and whistles. I want it pretty. I do not need that, but I desire it. If I pursue that phone, I’ll probably get it and feel pretty good about myself. I might cheat someone to get it. But if I just continue diligently seeking God and seeking to be transformed, to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), then I can trust God knows what I need and He will provide it. I know from experience, my Father in Heaven enjoys showering me with blessings. He loves to give me good things. He knows I need a phone, He will provide one. He knows what you need. If you seek Him rather than your needs, He will provide your needs as a matter of course.
So what is seeking the Kingdom of God? It is striving for God, His character, His mind, and His will. That means I want to glorify Him by manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, wearing the armor of God, and seeking wisdom and discernment.
How important is money to you? I can tell you it is pretty important to me. I do not want it to be. It is a real effort to not seek money, to not want all the things money can buy, and not to go nuts thinking how I can get myself all the things I want. Right now the Powerball is 1.3 billion dollars. If it stayed there (but we know it will grow) a single winner could spend $71,2328.76 each day for 5 years before spending it all. The pursuit of that kind of money can make our heads spin. I was in the 7-11 Saturday night and the line of people there to buy their chance at the dream of that kind of money was long and chaotic. They were blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes. I can be blinded by that kind of lust too, if I do not keep my flesh in check and let God’s Spirit reign.
I have to make The Lord and His desires my priority. I have to want what He wants and remember that He wants good things for me, and that what He wants for me is ultimately better than what I want for me (Matthew 7:11, Psalm 40:5,). Psalm 84:11 says,
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.”
Proverbs 3:13-18 says it this way,
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.”
Seeking God must include seeking wisdom. Pursuing Him is better than pursuing wealth and when we seek Him, we get wisdom, long life (health, healing, and abundant living) first and riches and honor! Seriously! Getting rich doesn’t guarantee health or honor. But God is our Healer, our Provider, and our All-Sufficient.
Seeking money just leads us further and further down the path of wickedness. First we are willing to charge a little more than we should for an item or withhold some the firstfruits from God. Next we withhold from the needy brother or the hungry widow. Then what are we willing to do, lie, steal, or hurt? Who are we willing to hurt to get what we want? Our testimony is destroyed by a life chasing money instead of God. Our destroyed testimony can send a person down the path to Hell.
Verses 8-9 read,
“The righteous is delivered from trouble,
and the wicked walks into it instead.
9 With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
We know being Christ-like has eternal benefits but it also benefits us now. It benefits us and the many people watching how we live our lives. Verses 23-31 read,
“The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
26 The people curse him who holds back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
27 Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.
28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and whoever captures souls is wise.
31 If the righteous is repaid on earth,
how much more the wicked and the sinner!”
So go ahead, feel free to stop trying to get rich, meet all your own needs, or worry about money. Seek God and His kingdom. Be like Jesus and enjoy the benefits of a rich full life that leads to life for all those around you.