Wealth Without Trouble

Proverbs 10:22[1]

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.

There are many passages in the bible that speak of God blessing people. The types of these blessings vary and include, among many other things, God’s loving kindness and storing up treasures in heaven. Proverbs 10:22 though speaks about God blesses people with wealth. Wealth in this verse is specifically seen as the accumulation of things that lead to a person being considered wealthy. The author of the proverb focuses on God blessing a person (or group of people,) with prosperity while the person (or group) is still on the earth. It is important to note early on in our discussion that this verse is not insinuating that being poor is a sign of sinfulness, in fact as the Old Testament book of Job illustrates, wealth is not a sign of a person’s moral character.[2], [3]

What Proverbs 10:22 does show us though is that there is a specific type of blessing from God, which causes people to accumulate those things that are considered to make people wealthy or rich. The actual material item, whether it is gold, cattle, money, or some other material that holds value, is only relevant to the culture that the people themselves are in. The verse itself doesn’t specify a certain type of riches, but the meaning of the word translated as wealth here does carry the meaning; to accumulate, or to grow (make) rich.[4] Therefore today, particularly in Western culture, it seems likely that in most people’s situation this sort of Godly blessing will mean the growth of financial capital and monetary gains.

A further statement found in the last half of the verse explains categorically that God doesn’t add trouble to the wealth he gives. Instead, God’s blessing is given with love and out of kindness. It is not designed to be the trap that riches sometimes become in the hands of unwise people. The Devil on the other hand fosters the love of money and uses this as a trap against us, by taking the fruits of the good blessing of God and encouraging us to attach greater value to it than it deserves.[5] When we fall into this subtle trap we allow our love for God to be usurped by our love for what he has blessed us with.

The 2011 update of the New International Version translates the second half of the verse a bit differently, and reads:

22The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

This updated translation doesn’t change the meaning of the verse, discussed above, but it does highlight that there are more ways of gaining wealth than just through Godly blessing. The origin of all wealth is the one true God and he desires to bless his creation,[6] yet we can still choose to chase after wealth on our own, through our own hard work and toil. God however, wants the chance to bless us and it is not his intention that we toil by ourselves to achieve wealth. We might be successful in our own efforts to achieve wealth but in the process we are either displaying a form of disbelief or a form of pride, in the first we do not accept that God actually can bless us, in the latter we might acknowledge that God can bless us but we refuse to allow him the opportunity to do this. Wealth is one of the many different blessings God intended for his people, toiling for it without him is an effort to gain that same blessing without acknowledging its true source. So in struggling and constantly striving to achieve an increase in wealth we are both not putting our trust in God and rejecting his good blessing. The apostle Paul was very direct on such matters, saying that whatever is not done in faith is sin.[7] In the context of chasing wealth our sin is the rejection of God and his assistance, not the getting of wealth itself.

Another, often unconsidered, side effect of gaining wealth solely through our own efforts is that it becomes a burden to us. There are some fundamental faith related reasons for this. It is much easier for us to believe that wealth we know has come from God, can be restored by God if it is lost (very much like Job’s was). We also recognise as Christians that even if our full wealth were not to be restored in a situation like this, God would still work for our good.[8] If, however, we have struggled away on our own to build up our wealth, we naturally consider it to be something we have provided for ourselves. If it is then lost we logically assume that we will have to repeat our hard work all over again to get it back. Our lack of trust in God is compounded by our personal experience[9] and leads to us having no reason to believe we will be looked after if our wealth fails. Looking ahead to this scenario we begin to worry about keeping our wealth safe and so wealth becomes a heavy burden and a source of frequent worry to us.

The truth is that God is able and willing to bless us, without us having to toil for wealth. As Christians we are free to do the work God has called us to do, without worrying about the accumulation of material wealth to fall back on. God does intend for people to work and be productive, but the main focus of that work is not to earn money, it is to be about God’s business, which varies for each individual. People are called to work in all spheres of society, however I do not believe that any of us are called to chase wealth for our own individual gain. Yes, people are called to make money, and some people to make a lot of money, but we all need to be conscious of God’s purpose for our lives and the unique reasons he has called us to make money. When we recognize that God is willing to bless us in the form of wealth it also helps us to stretch our faith further and encourages us to believe that God will provide for us in every aspect of life. This is especially relevant when we are considering accepting a drop in income to follow God’s call on our lives and engage in the work he has called us to. At no point in this discussion can we assume that God does not want us to be working in some sort of endeavour, however the Christian, especially in a fallen world, is wise to pursue righteousness over wealth.

Perhaps though to fully understand wealth as a blessing of the Lord one needs to first recognise that God owns everything. Not only did God create all things but he created them all from nothing! As the Creator, everything that he has created is in fact his. He has placed us, as people, on earth in a position of stewardship, so that his creation will be looked after and so that he might enjoy a relationship with us. These points lead me to believe that our wealth, both present and potential, both that which we struggled for and that which we received, originates from God. He is the one who has the ultimate power over his creation, including both the gathering and loss of wealth. Out of this comes a responsibility for us to be wise stewards of the things God has given us. The parable of the talents is a classic example of how God expects us to use wealth wisely and productively.[10]

We still need to careful consider monetary practicalities when making decisions, but these are not our primary consideration as believers, rather the most important thing for us to do in any situation is to first seek God’s will.[11] As an example when looking for direction regarding major life changes, we should both seek God and consider his call on our life. If you are not sure what God’s call on your life is, look at the interests and abilities he has given you and seek to find how those gifts could potentially be used to do the work of God on earth. For the Christian choosing a career is not so much about income earning as it is about making use of the skills, abilities and interests God has given us as created individuals. Using our talents wisely is part of our call to be good stewards and to make the most of what the Lord has given to us. In closing I believe that if we will live in the way God wants us to he will find ways of blessing us that will surprise even the most hardened cynic.

References

Alexander, D. & Alexander, P. (Eds.), (1984). The Lion Handbook to the Bible. Herts, England: Lion Publishing.

Barker, K. (Ed.), (1995). The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Brand, C., Draper, C., & England, A. (Eds). (2003) Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Reference.

Davis, J.D. (1977), Davis Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Goodrick, E. W., & Kohlenberger, J. R. (2012). The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Price, D. (2014). Where is Wisdom? Wanganui, NZ: Faith With Wisdom.

Thompson, F.C. (Ed.), (1988). The Thomson Chain-Reference Bible: Fifth Improved Edition. Indiana, USA: B. B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc.

Zondervan. (2010, November 1). Updated NIV Bible Text. Retrieved from http://www.biblica.com

Footnotes

[1] All scripture references are taken from the New International Version of the Bible, unless otherwise stated.

[2] Price, D. (2014). Where is Wisdom? Wanganui, NZ: Faith With Wisdom.

[3] The book of Job tells how Job lost his riches when God allowed Satan to put Job to the test after Satan questioned God’s declaration of Job’s righteousness.

[4] Hebrew āšar to be, become rich; to make rich, bring wealth, etc. [Goodrick, E. W., & Kohlenberger, J. R. (2012). The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.]

[5] 1 Timothy 6:10

[6] God’s desire to bless us is illustrated by verses such as: Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:19, etc…

[7] Romans 14:23 In this verse Paul is referring to Christians no longer being bound by the laws regarding eating foods classed in Jewish law as unclean. Now through faith in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice at Calvary there is no unclean food for the Christian. Paul is not concerned with the outcome as much as with the faith exhibited (or not exhibited) in the process of achieving that outcome. The Greek word πιστις (pistis) here describes ‘faithfulness’, ‘trust’ and the actions that follow from having ‘trust’. [Goodrick, E. W., & Kohlenberger, J. R. (2012). The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.]

[8] Romans 8:28

[9] A personal experience that we instigated, not God.

[10] Matthew 25:14-28

[11] Matthew 6: 33

Leave a Reply