18 The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
Sin is deceitful because it often promises some semblance of good or enjoyment in the short-term, but there is no real substance to be gained from sin. However, when we do well, we can expect lasting gain.
This can be true in life, but sometimes the opposite seems true for a time. Sometimes the wicked prosper and those who do what is right cannot seem to get ahead.
However, this is only true when we consider prosperity through the lens of worldly gain. When our judgment is clouded by “the deceitfulness of riches” we judge success according to how much a person has materially. Jesus said, “a man’s life consists of more than the things he possesses.”
A life spent in pursuit of worldly gain will have worldly gain in proportion to the ability and ambition a person has. A life spent in pursuit of righteousness will have a life that is prosperous in things that bring real love, peace, contentment, and trust in God—to name a few—in proportion to the faith and grace of God received.
The latter is a sure reward and there are many rewards to gain in this life when we make righteousness our aim.
Riches, on the other hand, are easily lost. A bout of sickness, job loss, or some other form of disaster can take a person down quickly in the things of this world. However, there is no trouble in this world that can take the reward of righteousness from a person, especially when the righteousness is the work of God in us.
There is no greater love, peace, contentment, and faith than that which is seen during times of Christian suffering. It is real, lasting, and cannot be shaken by the troubles of this life. Not for very long. The Holy Spirit will bring us comfort during hard times, and once we come through these times we see that the good things we thought were slipping away were not failing. They were being made stronger and we have even more than we did before.
This is not so for gain in this world, and it is a true saying of Jesus that we cannot serve both at the same time. “You cannot serve God and mammon.” It is also true that many will “lose what he only seems to have.”
We cannot serve righteousness and sin at the same time—and a life lived for the pursuit of worldly gain is a life of sin.
This might seem contrary to the belief of many, especially in a culture that has long valued hard work and worldly gain to the extent that a person’s righteousness is measured according to how much he has in the world.
Rich people are assumed to be hard working and reliable, for example. While people assume that those who are poor must be lazy or mentally unstable in some way.
These can be true to a degree. However, there is something to be said about the nature of a man whose aim is to gain riches in this world. Sure, such a man worked for what he has and that is his right. No one should take his hard work from him. However, far better is the man who worked to become more like Jesus—He who had no home to live in, no fancy clothing, and gave His life for others instead of taking power unto Himself.
I am not anti-capitalist, but as a Christian, I am anti-greed. I am against those who look down their noses at the poor, assuming that “If I could do it, so can they.” Not all have the same intellect. Not all have the same support system. Not all have the same greed of gain either.
Far better is the poor man who spends time with his family instead of climbing the career ladder. Far better is the poor man who is faithful to his wife than the rich man who has affairs behind closed doors or secretly lusts after women in his heart. Far better is the poor man who pursues a knowledge of God and His word than the man who pursues college degrees. Far better is the man who has a few sincere friends who love him, love his family, and love God than the man with dozens of acquaintances that speak kindly to his face then slander him behind his back.
There is a lot of empty pursuits in this world. There are many forms of sin, and our society has forgotten that greed is also a sin. Our society has forgotten that worshiping riches is sin. Our society has forgotten that “respect of persons” that exalts the rich and hates the poor is sin.
Yes, the poor man might lack motivation. He might lack sound judgement. He might have addictions. Guess what, so does the rich man.
The rich man lacks motivation in the true things of God, or else he would not have the time to go after this world as he does. The rich man lacks sound judgment, because he “judges after the outer appearance” and his judgment is according to the “wisdom of this world.” The rich man is addicted to comfort, social status and praise, and climbing to new heights of success.
He is not one whit better than the poor man that he despises. In-fact, he is in many ways worse because he thinks that his riches are righteousness while he sits prim and proud, holier-than-thou, and blind to just how poor he is in things that actually matter. He is a hypocrite, a liar, a man-pleaser, and a servant of self and not of God.
Capitalism is not sin. Greed is sin. Stepping on the backs of others to further yourself is sin. Hating the poor is sin. Making hypocritical judgments is sin.
Socialism is not the answer.
Jesus is. A free market is good. We do not need rich men in government telling us what to do with our lives and our money. We do not need big corporations running the world either. However, the world will do what the world does. If we do not worship the world, but Jesus, He will lead us in things that matter and cannot be taken from us.
“There is no rest, day nor night, for those who worship the beast and his image or receive the mark of his name.”
There is no rest when your pursuit is this world. Let it go. Do what you must according to your conscience to make the most of your talents and serve people in Christ, but do not fret yourself over this world. It is deception to think that anything we gain here is of real value.
There is rest in Jesus. When we work in Him and for Him—of a truth in the things that He values, which are foolishness to people in this world—then we have gain that cannot be lost. People in this world do not value these things. Fake Christians do not value these things.
God sees and He will divide the real believers from the fake, so we can be patient and watch and wait to see what He will do. Trust in Him and not riches or sins of any variety, because those who do are going to have a hell of a time when all that they trust in prove to be nothing more than a bottomless pit of nothingness. The greed of man can never be satisfied and neither is his wrath against those who stand in his way, but there is satisfaction and peace for the Christian that the world cannot know or understand.
That being said, we do not always feel the satisfaction and peace we want, but if we look to Jesus during our times of doubt and despair, He will strengthen us. He might strengthen us by taking us through hard times that remove our sinful pursuits from us as He deals with us as our Father who “chastens every son he loves.” If our faith is of God and true, even if it hangs only by a thin thread, we will make it because it is the grace of God that keeps us and He is faithful to those who belong to Him.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.” (from Psalm 119)
PREVIOUS STUDY: Considering Proverbs 11:17 – “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.“
The purpose of this bible study in The Proverbs is to consider present-day events in terms of the teachings and wisdom of Jesus Christ. Follow in WordPress or subscribe by email (red button at the bottom of each page below the comments) if you would like to join this discussion and receive updates of future posts. Visit the link above for easy access to all posts within this series.