He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
The desire to be rich is dangerous to a man’s family. He will be tempted to accept bribes or compromise righteousness, which will bring trouble to his wife, children, and estate. But a man that hates bribes or financial compromise will preserve and prosper his family.
Greed is excessive ambition and covetous desire for more than you have or should reasonably expect (Pr 1:19; Is 56:11). Gain is financial success or wealth. The proverb condemns lustful desire to be rich, which leads to compromising godliness and wisdom.
The gifts here are bribes, which are given to pay a man to compromise the law or financial wisdom (Pr 29:4; Ex 23:8; Deut 16:19; Is 33:15). A virtuous man will hate such gifts, for he will not sell his integrity or the approval of God for any price.
There are many temptations associated with desire for financial success, and they often bring pain and trouble to a man’s family. But a man who is content with his income, and would never consider cheating for any advantage, will protect and prosper his family.
Beyond bribes, desiring riches brings temptation to compromise in dealings, break the law, violate financial wisdom, overwork, be tempted by investment scams, mistreat employees, cheat on giving, neglect charity, over-expand, deprive the family of affection and time, forget your soul, worry about tomorrow, be carnally minded, associate excessively with the world, be puffed up, despise others, and numerous other sins.
Here is Paul’s sober warning: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim 6:9-10).
God’s ministers cannot be greedy of gain, for such men will compromise righteousness or the gospel for income (I Tim 3:3,8; 6:6-10; Titus 1:7). This rule matched Moses’ requirement for Israel’s leaders to be men hating covetousness (Ex 18:21). And John the Baptist told the Roman soldiers at his baptism to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14).
Two things cost investors and businessmen – greed and fear: greed brings ruin, and fear misses potential profits. Fear is better than greed (Pr 14:23; 21:5; 22:3; 28:11,19,22). There are no free lunches: wise men reject even cheap lunches, knowing they are deceptive. Bulls and bears can make money in any market, but pigs end up eating trash.
Reader, how much time do you spend thinking about getting ahead? Is it the acceptable desire to do with your might what God has given you to do (Eccl 9:10)? Or is it an obsession to rise in the esteem of the world by financial increase (Pr 18:11)? Be warned!
Are you tempted in any area of life to compromise in order to get ahead? In any of the areas listed above? Godly men are content with what they have, for they esteem the Lord and His word their portion forever (Ps 19:10; 73:25-26; 119:11; Heb 13:5-6). And their families will be blessed in the earth for such noble and virtuous men (Pr 11:21; Is 65:23).