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No. 12: Advice From a Sojourner, Part 5

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 12
April, 1990
Copyright 1990, Biblical Horizons

7. Two things I asked of Thee, Do not refuse me before I die: 8. Keep deception and words of falsehood far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches, Feed me with the food that it my portion, 9. Lest I be full and deny Thee, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God

We have looked at the first part of these verses from Proverbs 30 already (February, 1990 issue). Now we take note that the Sojourner prays for the "food that is my portion," that is, "Give me the right amount for me." Of course, the right amount will vary from person to person. Some people can handle more, some less. God gave Job and Abraham great wealth, but it was not too much for them.

By way of contrast, Isaac inherited Abraham’s wealth, and it was too much for him. He thought he would just give it to Esau, even though God had said no. He became "full" and denied the Lord. God was gracious to him, though, and rebuked him.

Assuming that the Sojourner who authored Proverbs 30 is Jacob, or at least that the life of Jacob illustrates these proverbs, what can we learn from Jacob’s life about this? I believe that we can see in the life of Jacob four keys to acquiring moderate wealth, so that we have enough but not too much.

The first is to work steadily at one job. Jacob’s life would indicate at least seven years (Gen. 30:26-43). It is a general rule of the covenant (God makes exceptions, of course) that if we work diligently and tithe and obey the moral law, we ought to prosper. But we don’t see it the first year, or the second year, and we begin to wonder if God’s way is correct. By and large, though, if we stick with it we will begin to see significant financial change by the seventh year. If we flip from one situation to another, however, this is much less likely to happen.

The second key is tithing. Tithing is giving to God’s sanctuary ten percent of the income from your work or the money that comes to you from the labor of others (e.g., stocks, interest, etc.; not gifts or inheritance, unless these were not tithed on already). Jacob promised God a tithe before he embarked on his life of work, and God blessed him (Gen. 28:20-22).

The third key is worship. Jacob was diligent to worship God, in whatever way he could. For us this means never spitting in God’s face by failing to show up to worship on the Lord’s Day (unless you’re sick). The Church is in bad shape today, but that is no excuse for failing to attend the worship God has set up. Lord’s Day common prayer with God’s people is not optional, though it should be supplemented with daily prayers and family devotions.

The fourth key is obedience to the moral law of God. While some people see Jacob as a rotten character, the Biblical testimony is that he was a "perfect" man (Gen. 25:27). This means that he obeyed God, and when he stumbled he repented. (I have discussed Jacob’s moral character in my book Primeval Saints, available for $12.00 from Biblical Horizons .)

There are a lot of dishonest ways to acquire wealth and prestige in this world, but God does not bless them. It is those who obey Him, who worship Him, who tithe to Him, and who patiently wait on Him, who acquire the kind of moderate prosperity for themselves and their children that we need. Dishonestly acquired wealth makes us too rich too fast, so that we tend to despise the Lord even more than we already have done by cheating; while failure to tithe and worship leads eventually to the poorhouse, and there we may curse God even more than we already have done by staying away from Church and stealing from Him.