Proverbs 16:8

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.


Play Audio

What would make your life better? More money? Or more righteousness? Your answer shows if you are wise or not. If you think more money would improve your life, even if you compromised what is right to get it, you are a fool. If you would accept less than you have now, as long as you could be more righteous, you are wise. Think about this lesson.

Life is a series of choices based on priorities. Wise priorities lead to wise choices, which produce a successful life. God gave a value system for human priorities, and Solomon confirmed it by extensive experiments and observations. But only a few great men (and women) align their priorities with God’s and make wise choices (Pr 13:7; 28:6).

How can your life be better? It can be better several ways. First, you can be happier, more fulfilled and satisfied, and full of peace and joy without guilt or shame. That is a great way to live. Second, God will approve and bless your life, if you live it according to His righteous standards. Third, you will build a noble reputation with men the same way. So, the lesson is simple, a successful life is not things you own but how righteous you live.

Why do so few live successful lives before God and men? Because the world’s priorities are opposite God’s priorities! The world measures success by a college education, a successful career, a comfortable home, and a good retirement, without regard to God’s righteousness. The Lord measures success by godliness with contentment (I Tim 6:6). How opposite are these goals? Totally! How poor would you be in order to be righteous?

Solomon had more money and power than Bill Gates can imagine. He had 1,000 wives. The book of Ecclesiastes records his search for man’s purpose in life. He concluded his investigation by writing that fearing God and keeping His commandments is man’s whole duty (Eccl 12:13-14). He wrote the proverb above, because he found wealth to be empty and frustrating, and he knew that every man will give an account for his conduct on earth.

Righteousness must be a higher priority than even great revenue. Pleasing God should be more important than great wealth. If it is, you will make decisions to be right rather than to be rich. You will use Sundays for the Lord. You will be perfectly honest. You will avoid wicked men, no matter how friendly or successful. You will give liberally to the Lord and the poor. You will save, avoid debt, and hate suretiship. You will spend extra time in confession, meditation, prayer, and self-examination before more time at work.

Consider Lot and Abraham. Lot chose the plains of Jordan for financial advantage, even though Sodom was there (Gen 13:10-13). He ended up losing everything and living in a cave in profane misery (Gen 19:30-38). Abraham took the poorer lands, but he was the friend of God and the father of Israel. Though both men were God’s elect, Lot ruined and wasted his life; Abraham accepted less to be great with God. Who would you rather be?

Moses turned down the pleasures and riches of Egypt, in order to be with the people of God and seek the riches of Christ (Heb 11:24-26). But a young ruler turned away from the Son of God Himself, because he loved money too much (Matt 19:16-26). Moses is known by name to this day and honored as a great man, but the foolish ruler with the wrong priorities is a nameless example of how not to live. Who would you rather be?

If you fear God and value pleasing Him, then you would fervently choose being Abraham and Moses over Lot and a foolish rich man. But there is more to the equation, for giving up your natural life for the Lord will bring spiritual blessings, and trying to save your natural life will bring spiritual loss (Matt 16:24-26). No man has ever given up revenue for the Lord that has not been rewarded here and in the world to come (Mark 10:28-30).

How is little with righteousness better than great revenues without right? No amount of money can compensate for a guilty conscience. No amount of money can compensate for God’s chastening of your sinful ethics. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of spiritual blessings. No amount of money can buy your family back from a carnal and materialistic mindset. No amount of money can deliver your soul from the deceitful nature of riches (I Tim 6:6-10). No amount of money can save you on Judgment Day.

Who would you rather be, the rich man that fared sumptuously every day, while wearing purple and fine linen, or the beggar Lazarus, who lay starving at his gate and had his many sores licked by street dogs? Here is the most extreme contrast of little or great revenue. Surely you value their eternal destinations of enough weight to choose Lazarus. But with faith, hope, joy, and peace by the Spirit, Lazarus was also happier in this world.

Vows of poverty by Rome’s priests and nuns are not included here, for they are clearly false: there are no priests or nuns in the New Testament – there are only pastors and deacons (I Tim 3:1-13; Phil 1:1). God has richly given us all things to enjoy (I Tim 6:17-19), and ministerial laborers are worthy of their hire (I Tim 5:17-18; I Cor 9:3-11). There is nothing righteous about the monastic hypocrisy of those following the devilish lies of avoiding meat and forbidding marriage (I Tim 4:1-3; Col 2:18-23).

You have made choices today, and you will make more. What priorities dictate your choices and decisions? Have you bought into the world’s value system, or are you committed to Jehovah’s value system with your whole heart? The proverb before you is a certain law of wise priorities. Make sure you are choosing and valuing righteousness over revenues, or you will end up like Lot, a foolish young rich man, or a rich man in hell.

Make the better choice every day, and you will have a better life, for a life is little more than a string of daily choices. Do what is right, and let God take care of your revenues. Do not compromise righteousness to get ahead, for such a choice to get gain will never work in the long run (Pr 15:27; 20:21; 28:21-22; 11:19). Such a man is going down. If you honor God, He can also make you rich in ways you do not see now (Pr 10:22).

What will your life be? The better life of the righteous, with God’s blessing on all you do? Or the cursed life of the man greedy of gain, who loses his conscience and peace, and the Lord takes what he can earn and gives it to the man keeping His commandments? The choice is yours – the consequences were documented by Solomon – what will you do?