Health, Wealth and Prosperity, Oh My!
“Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.” – Proverbs 8:21 NLT
Wow, what a verse! This is what I like to call a coffee mug passage. It’s one of those kind of verses we like to read, and love to claim as a promise from God. Here we have wisdom making a pretty mind-blowing offer of wealth and riches, honor and justice. Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that offer? It’s like the American dream all wrapped up in one verse and found smack dab in the middle of Scripture. If I were a TV evangelist, this would be my signature verse. But is the promise of health, wealth and prosperity what this verse is all about? Upon closer examination we discover that the answer is a simple, yet resounding, NO. Yes, this passage does seem to say that those who find the wisdom of God will also find riches and honor, not to mention enduring wealth and justice. But here’s the problem. We tend to want to interpret this verse based on our working definitions of riches, honor, and enduring wealth. And as far as justice goes, we’ll gladly take it, but we would much rather have the other three. If I read this passage through my worldly lens of materialism and monetary blessings, I hear it offering me everything from power and possessions to recognition and financial rewards. But we have to take all this in context. A few verses earlier in the chapter, wisdom states, “Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it” (Proverbs 8:10-11 NLT). What wisdom offers is more valuable than any precious metal or rare jewel. Then just a few verses later, wisdom says, “My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver!” (Proverbs 8:19 NLT). So the riches, honor, and enduring wealth must have to do with something other than money or financial rewards of any kind. When wisdom states, “Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:21 NLT), it must not be talking about cash and coins. No, the enduring wealth that comes with the wisdom of God is something of an eternal nature. When we learn to fear God and love His wisdom, the gain far more than monetary in nature. A little later in the same chapter, wisdom clarifies and qualifies the benefits it offers. “for all who follow my ways are joyful” (Proverbs 8:32b NLT). “Joyful are those who listen to me, watching daily for me at my gates, waiting for me outside my home!” (Proverbs 8:34 NLT). The real value of a life lived in the fear of God and in total dependence on the wisdom of God is clear. “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:35 NLT). Now that is something you can bank on – for eternity – no matter what happens to the economy.
Father, You have filled my life with so much more than anything money could ever buy. May I increasingly discover the value of a life lived according to Your will and in keeping with Your wisdom. Help me to see the real value of godly joy and the peace of living within Your favor and love. That’s truly priceless. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men