Read Proverbs 13
Again we see the pattern of parallelism. The righteous get something good. Sinners get something bad. The diligent are blessed by the fruit of their efforts. The lazy, well, not so much.
It seems to be a simple set of parallel paths. The good go one way. Wicked people go another. The good are counseled not to keep bad company, and so the person who leads a godly life may have very little interaction with the wicked.
Except for one thing.
Except for one thing.
In 1986 and 1987, I was a company commander afloat on the U.S.S. Saipan as part of a Marine Amphibious Unit. We went ashore for training in Morocco. There wasn’t much to see—desert, nomads, camels, rats, and more desert. Of course as a Marine I was used to: “Nobody would be caught dead in this place for 10 minutes. Let’s stay a week or two.”
During this time, General Al Gray, the Commander of the Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic came to visit us. We would do some cross training with the Moroccan army. We would teach them how to fire some of our weapons. We would cross train on their air defense artillery. It was essentially a large caliber machinegun that shot at things in the air. Most of the Marine were not too enthused about training on this somewhat outdated gear.
The general was very insistent that we learn how to use the Moroccan’s weapons. He said, “One day I may send you to go take it and use it.”
It was wise counsel. The weapons that we might need to accomplish a mission might not be available and might not get there in time to do the job. We were to look at the arsenals of our allies and our enemies as potential armories for our own use.
I am certain that neither our allies nor our enemies appreciated this provocative outlook on life. But we were Marines and if you couldn’t deal with that, it was your problem, not ours.
The paths of the righteous and the wicked intersect in an interesting way in this 13th proverb. Consider the 22nd verse.
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous—is that really what it says?
We need to understand that we can’t store up riches on this earth as insurance against living foolishly, but if we live wisely, we are likely to receive some tangible rewards in this life. Within the providence of God there are some consequences and sequels.
What goes up must come down. Welcome to the law of gravity.
The person who has some stick-to-itiveness is more likely to keep his or her job when the economy takes a turn for the worse. They will at least land on their feet somewhere else. A good work ethic pays dividends in this life. They will have something to pass on to future generations.
In some cases what is passed on is a family tradition of character and good living, but that does not mean there won’t be some physical assets as well.
The wicked may have some success in this world and acquire some wealth, but it is not theirs to keep. If their family tradition is foolishness instead of good character, not passing this on as an inheritance to future generations is a blessing.
But what about the fiscal and physical wealth of the sinner?
The proverbs say that it won’t’ be theirs for long. All the wicked can do is hold on to it until godly people need to put it to use.
Sometimes we long to see this happen in our lifetime, before our eyes, with people that we know.
We long to see the foolish become servant to the wise.
We long to see the unjust get their just due.
But we must be content that when we follow the path of righteousness and wisdom, God will provide for us. Where that provision comes from is fully God’s domain.
We will not see the sinner’s fortune transferred to our bank account so long as that is what we are living for. That means we are set on our justice and not trusting the Lord’s.
We will not see the foolish become servant to the wise if that is what we live for. We must trust God’s wisdom and not just try to acquire it so we will be better than someone else.
We must seek God’s wisdom and know that he will provide for us, discipline us where needed, and deal with the wicked.
So many times I meet with people who have survived a financial trial of sorts. Many times many people have prayed that they make it another month. Then they do come into some money. They say now they can pay the rent. Now they can pay their utilities. Now they can catch up on car payments. Nowhere in the context of this conversation do they mention returning any portion of their blessing to God. They move from paying the utilities to now getting that new phone, or something special for their pets, or taking that much needed vacation.
So many who do not understand that their blessings come from God—even those whom the church helps with money and with prayer and with encouragement—forget the God of abundance when the cash is in hand.
This proverb reminds me of how the master dealt with the third servant in the parable of the talents. The master was upset at this servant and commanded that the single talent with which he had been entrusted be taken away from him. He had the least of all the servants but even that would be taken from him.
The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents.”
Here we see the master take from the wicked and give to the righteous. This may or may not take place in our lifetime but the wise and faithful will be rewarded and the wicked will lose even the little that they have.
The parable of the man with the bumper crop who was going to build bigger barns and then eat, drink, and be merry for the rest of this life—which would only be the rest of that day begs a simple question. Who got all of that wealth that was stored up in his barns?
We don’t know. The point of the story was for us to ask, Are we rich towards God? But somebody else enjoyed this man’s wealth.
Jesus reminded us to lay up our treasures in heaven.
The fool and the wicked may have some temporary wealth, but they leave nothing to their children. Surely they have no treasure in heaven.
They bring only trouble upon their families. They inherit only the wind.
Their riches are stored up for the righteous.
We who are blessed not to live day to day know from where all blessings flow. We know that every good gift is from above. We know that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. We know that we are stewards of the things that we call ours.
But the wicked are denied peace as they grasp at the things of this world without regard for God.
Today, let us thank God that we have eyes to see and ears to hear and know that every good gift comes from him, we give him thanks, offerings, and seek to live wisely in the path he has set before us.