The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.
Money answereth all things! Who said these words? The Preacher Solomon did (Eccl 10:19). Are they true? Yes, they are true, for money can solve a lot of problems and do a lot of things. Solomon also said money was a defense against trouble (Eccl 7:12).
Rich men know they can buy their way out of most difficulties, so they learn to trust in riches as their defense and source of help (Pr 18:11). They become conceited in their own abilities and forget God, as they do not feel any need for Him or dependency upon Him. Rich men do not pray, for they believe they can save themselves by their financial power.
Poor men cannot buy themselves out of trouble. When expenses mount, they have no defense, and they are destroyed. They lose confidence, become frustrated and fearful, and are tempted to covet or steal what the rich man has. Neither do poor men pray, for they have no hope of deliverance, so they often try to take matters into their own hands.
It is even hard for the poor to make and keep friends (Pr 14:20; 19:4,7). What a miserable life! But the rich have many friends (Pr 19:6). What a blessed life! Beware, dear reader, neither of these situations is ideal. Poverty and prosperity each have their disadvantages.
Because of these two extremes, both of which lead to sin, wise Agur prayed that God would deliver him from both riches and poverty (Pr 30:7-9). He chose moderate financial success as his goal – a convenient amount of money would be just right. He knew that riches could lead to presumption against God, and he knew poverty could lead to theft.
Can you be content with only moderate success? Will you be? If you love your soul, this will be more than enough. Can you be peacefully content with God as your portion (Ps 73:25-26; Gen 15:1; Heb 13:5-6)? Will you be? This is a measure of spiritual perfection.
It is holy wisdom and eternal prudence when the rich become poor in spirit (Matt 5:3) and the poor become rich in faith (James 2:5). Are these the measures most important to your soul? Are these your ambitions and goals? These things measure true success.
A strong city was a place of safety, especially in the days of Solomon (II Chron 11:5). Rich men trust their money the same way citizens trusted high and thick walls of a city. But the Lord should be your only defence (Ps 7:10; 62:2,6), refuge (Ps 9:9; 94:22), fortress (Ps 71:3; 91:2), and high tower (Ps 18:2; 144:2) against trouble and fear. Trust in Him! Many troubles will surely come that money cannot save you from, especially death.
Do not trust money. If riches increase, do not think about them (Ps 62:10). Remember Job and how the Lord took everything away in one day. Riches grow wings and fly away (Pr 23:4-5), and thieves break through and steal (Mat 6:19). Job cursed himself, if he had ever let money become his hope or confidence (Job 31:24-25). Do not trust money.
The desire to be rich is a foolish ambition and horrible curse. A man must love pain and death to set wealth as his goal. Desiring riches is the root of all evil, and it drowns men in destruction and perdition. Many men have left the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows by seeking to be rich (I Tim 6:6-10). Hate America’s love of riches. Remember Lot, Balaam, Achan, and Gehazi as Bible examples of those who brought much trouble upon themselves by seeking to be rich. Do not even think about being rich.
Men have lost the kingdom of God by valuing riches more than Jesus Christ, so He taught His disciples it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich men to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:17-27). Money may help put braces on your children’s teeth, but it can cost you the kingdom of heaven. Lord, have mercy.
Wealth and success cannot help in the Day of Judgment, as two rich men learned (Luke 12:13-21; 16:19-31). And you will take none of it with you (I Tim 6:7; Job 1:21). Though you may trust your money, you cannot redeem your own soul or that of anyone else (Ps 49:6-9). Only righteousness will help in God’s day of wrath, not riches (Pr 10:2; 11:4).
True success is living a godly life and being content with what you have (I Tim 6:6). Consider it. Many waste the pleasure and satisfaction of what they do have by fretting for what they do not have. Here is profound wisdom for true happiness and a fulfilling life. This is learned behavior, and there is nothing in your sinful nature that wants to be content (Phil 4:11). But choose contentment today, for it will bring you happy success.
If you are rich, do not glory in your riches, but rather glory in knowing the Lord (Jer 9:23-24). This is a greater treasure than any bank account (II Cor 9:15). David was rich, but he valued God’s word more precious to him than much fine gold (Ps 19:10). Be ready to distribute your money to others, so you can lay hold of eternal life and lay up a good foundation against the time to come (I Tim 6:17-19; Matt 25:31-46).
If you are poor, remember God chose the poor of this world rich in faith (James 2:5). He has not called many rich or successful people to heaven (I Cor 1:26-29). Most of them will be shocked in the Day of Judgment to discover that God has rejected them. But if you are poor, you have riches untold and unimagined in glory (I Cor 2:9; John 14:2).
What is the summary of the lesson? It cannot be said better than James wrote it, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low” (James 1:9-10). This is a choice based on the facts and promises of the gospel. A poor man trusting Christ is a king and priest with an eternal inheritance beyond the richest man’s imagination. A rich man can be sober, humble, and helpful by realizing his real wealth is in spiritual blessings purchased by Jesus Christ’s blood rather than his wealth.
Dear reader, do you know about the greatest reversal of fortune in the whole universe? Hollywood may have named a movie by those words, but hear the Scriptures:
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
II Corinthians 8:9
Reader, ask God to help you be content with convenient things here and now and to give you eyes of faith to see the abundance that awaits you for eternity with Him in heaven.