The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
Are you on death row, without knowing it? If you lie or use fraud to make money, you must want to die. Men may miss or ignore your scam; God will not. You think you have a treasure, but it is an illusion, like thinking a leaf in a tornado will land in your pocket.
Wisdom includes honesty in business and finances. Lying to get ahead is vanity – it will not work – it is foolish and useless. Any advantage or riches gained will be lost, and God will judge the thief. To choose this approach is to desire death and destruction (Pr 8:36).
This proverb sits between two others that also deal with financial success. Diligence is God’s means for wealth; haste will lead to sin and poverty (Pr 21:5). God will destroy wicked men that steal for riches, because they reject honest dealings (Pr 21:7). Consider also the many proverbs demanding just weights and balances (Pr 11:1; 16:11; 20:10,23).
As Solomon here taught his son business ethics, so every young man must be taught to be impeccable in financial dealings. There is no room for fudging any aspect of economic exchange. The LORD sees every infraction, and He will judge every one. He protects every customer and oversees every deal from heaven. Be sure your sin will find you out!
Listen to God warn dishonest men by the prophet Jeremiah: “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool” (Jer 17:11). And again, “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work” (Jer 22:13).
The Bible is filled with sober warnings against deceit or fraud of any kind to pad your pockets. Consider the number of them and be perfectly honest in all business dealings (Pr 10:2; 11:26; 13:11; 20:14,21; 28:8; Lev 19:13,35-36; Deut 24:14-15; 25:13-16; Job 24:10-11; Ezek 45:10-12; Hos 12:7; Amos 8:4-6; Mic 6:10-11; Mal 3:5; Jas 5:1-7).
Ahab and Jezebel lied to get Naboth’s vineyard, and Ahab tried to enjoy his treasure, but Elijah told how he and Jezebel would die (I Kgs 21:1-24). Did Achan enjoy his treasure, while the stones crushed his body and the fire burned his bones (Josh 7:20-26)? Did Gehazi enjoy his treasure, while he rotted with terminal leprosy (II Kgs 5:20-27)? How about Judas Iscariot (Matt 27:3-10)? How about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)?
Consider these questions. Do you pay the full amount? On time? Or do you use the grace period for yourself? Do you disclose all problems with a used car you sell? Is the product you sell legitimate in God’s sight? Do you cut corners in your service to maximize the profit margin? Do you treat rental property better than if it were your own? Do you tip generously those who serve in menial tasks? Are you always diligent while on the clock?
Consider a few more. Do you exaggerate the potential of a business or product? Are all employees paid on time, every time? Do you disclose all problems with a house you sell? Do you keep all financial commitments? On time? Have you properly paid anyone who has served you? Are you honest with your income tax return? Do you give the Lord first cut of your income? Or do you lie by saying you love Him but keep His part for yourself?
Consider a few more. Do you ever call in sick without being sick, to take advantage of the privilege of sick pay? Have you taken small things from your employer that would be purloining or pilfering? Do you try to get refunds for your mistakes in a purchase? Have you expected the impossible from a merchant or service man, and then not paid because they were human? Do you haggle down asking prices of things you are buying? Do you ever rejoice and boast to others about getting a great deal (Pr 20:14)?
Consider a few more. Is your resume perfectly honest? Do you completely and accurately answer interview questions? Do you tell the whole truth when asked about the conduct of fellow employees? Do you fully deserve any government aid you have requested or taken? How about in God’s sight as measured by the Bible? Are you perfectly honest with all requested details on insurance applications? Do you offer helpful information to those that need it, even if they did not ask you for it and it may cost you to tell them?
Let this proverb cause you to carefully weigh every financial transaction, employment duty, and business deal, so that you are not found tossing vanity to and fro and asking for God’s judgment. He sees and hears all you do, and He only accepts total fairness, righteousness, and generosity. Cheaters and cheapskates will neither prosper nor survive. If you always pay and perform generously, you will be blessed (Pr 11:18,24-26; 19:17; 28:8,27; Deut 15:10; Luke 6:38; Eccl 11:1-6; Ps 112:1-10; Isaiah 32:8; II Cor 9:6-11).
If you truly want a treasure, that is the real thing, then seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). For it is “like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matt 13:44). Any treasure on earth is vanity, vexation of spirit, and will not help in the day of death. But godliness with contentment profits both now and later (I Tim 4:8; 6:6).