A faithful man will abound with blessings, but one eager to be rich will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 28:20, 22 (and Ver. Proverbs 28:8)
I. THE GRAVE DOUBT ABOUT WEALTH. To have sufficiency of money for a comfortable home, for education, for the furtherance of the cause of God, and for the relief of human want, - this is certainly a very desirable thing. He who is facing the future may honestly desire to attain it, and he who has won it may well give God hearty thanks for the goodness which has placed this blessing in his power. But the mere acquisition of wealth, on which so many set their hearts, to which they devote their lives, and for which they sacrifice the best and highest things of all, ensures nothing at all of that which is valuable to a man who uses his reason and cares for his character. For who can be sure:
1. How it will be gained. There are temptations on every hand to gain money dishonestly or, if not fraudulently, by questionable means; by taking advantage of the weak and struggling in a way which, if it be not positively unjust, is inconsiderate and unkind. Of those who "make haste to be rich," how very large a proportion fail to "be innocent" (Ver. 20)! They either deviate from the straight line of perfect equity, or they wander into ways of rank injustice and shameful wrong. Who shall say whether the next aspirant will not be counted in their number? And what does it profit a man to gain a fortune and to lose his integrity?
2. How long it will stay. He "considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Few things are less certain than the duration of wealth. Who that has reached middle life has not frequently known of those that were supposed to be beyond the reach of misfortune being suddenly reduced or positively beggared (see Proverbs 23:5)?
3. How much it will do for its possessor. "He that hasteth... hath an evil eye;" so far is he from being satisfied with his fortune, and from looking graciously and generously upon all his neighbours, rich and poor, that he looks enviously upon those that are wealthier than himself, proudly upon those that are less successful, and grudgingly upon those that are poor, lest they should want his aid and diminish his store.
4. Whither it will go. If dishonestly obtained, it is likely enough that wealth will soon meet with the penalty it deserves, and pass to another holder. It may go to him that will "pity the poor," or it may get into the hands of "the fool," who will squander it in some kind of folly (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19, 21). There is, then, an utter uncertainty about riches. It may be that God has not intended a man to be rich, but to be happy in a very humble station (Proverbs 30:9); and a pertinacious endeavour to secure what God has not placed within reach must end in a wretched failure and a badly bruised spirit. To such as these the strong words of Paul are applicable (1 Timothy 6:9, 10).
II. THE CERTAINTY ABOUT FAITHFULNESS. "A faithful man shall abound with blessings." And there is no room for questioning it. Let a man be faithful to his convictions; let him be to God, his Father and his Saviour, what he knows in his heart he should be; let him be true and upright in all his relations with his fellow men, and he will be regulating his life by a sovereign principle which will "abound with blessings." It will:
1. Build up a strong and noble character.
2. Establish an honourable reputation and win the confidence of men.
3. Secure as large a measure of peace and of happiness as is the lot of disciplined humanity.
4. Dispense much good of many kinds to those around, both in public and in domestic life.
5. Lead down to a peaceful end, and on to a glorious future. What wise man would endanger the loss of these priceless blessings for the uncertain and transient good of worldly wealth? - C.
He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
I. RICHES MAY EITHER BE PRODUCED OR COLLECTED. The foundation of all prosperity is production. He increases the riches of a society that applies his reason and skill to the raw material of the globe, or that brings it from inertness to positive service, and gives to matter the power of serving man. He produces wealth. Then comes the man who utilises it; creates it into garments, houses, utensils, etc. The foundation of all value is not what a thing costs in making it, but what is inherent in it of thought and skill. What part of man was used in producing it; and to what part of a man is such properly addressed? The man who produces wealth is the foundation man. It is the law of the production of wealth that a man should render an equivalent for every stage of value. Sudden wealth is not hasty wealth, necessarily.
II. THE PRODUCTION OF WEALTH CONNECTS ITSELF WITH BENEVOLENCE, WITH SYMPATHY. The man who is developing property, as distinguished from money, is actually increasing the common wealth. It is a sad thing, but in the main true, that the producers of wealth are obliged to eat up the larger part of their product in order to have strength to work. But every man that is developing or producing riches is, at the same time, educating himself in morals, or should be. Patience is a moral quality; another name for self-control. The man who gets wealth legitimately is usually himself built up in inward riches fully as much as he builds up his estate in outward wealth.
III. HASTE TO BE RICH IS A GREAT DANGER TO MEN, BECAUSE IT TEMPTS THEM TO EMPLOY ILLEGITIMATE MEANS. Sleights, crafts, disingenuous ways, greed, violations of honesty. Haste runs along the edge of so many dangers, that a man's head must be peculiarly well set on his shoulders, and his brain must be very solid and sober, if he does not topple over into them. A man that is making haste to be rich is tempted to ostentation. But ostentation is expensive, and men are easily tempted to devise schemes to maintain it. Men having sudden wealth are apt to become cruel through indifference to other men's rights. Haste is apt to change into idolatry.
(H. W. Beecher.)
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