By Adam Faughn
We know very little about the inspired penman of Proverbs 30. But while his life may not be known to us, these statements of wisdom from him have survived the centuries through God’s providence.
Agur, the inspired writer, gives us a principle that runs counter to our modern culture, but it is a principle that provides great balance in how we view money and possessions. In Prov. 30:7-9, he writes, “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
When we read these words from Agur, they should strike us as measured, balanced words from a wise man. The inspired writer does not just state the desire of wanting neither riches nor poverty; he gives a sound, logical, honest reason for this desire.
His “human-ness” in stating this desire is a reminder that those who wrote the Bible were real people. They felt like we feel, and had struggles just as we do. This is true in a very real way when it comes to our finances. There can be consequences when we fail to find a balanced view of money.
If I Desire Too Much
Agur is willing to admit that money and possessions could cause him to struggle. If he had too much, he could forget God and place his trust in himself and his wealth.
How often do we see this in our wealthy society? We are often told that we have “so much” compared with the rest of the world, but we rarely believe it, because we see what we could have.
However, as our accounts grow and we surround ourselves with nice, comfortable things, we can begin to place our trust in our stuff, and in ourselves. After all, “we” got all this stuff! When such an attitude arises, we must remember the story of the man we call “The Rich Fool” (Luke 12:13-21). His satisfaction and ease was wrapped up in himself and his possessions. He forgot God. Doubtless, leaving God due to money is a long, slow process. Don’t drift away from Him!
If I Desire to Have Poverty
What if, on the other hand, we have very little? Agur stated that would be tempted to steal, thus breaking a clear command from Jehovah (cf. Exod. 20:15).
Poverty is not a sign that one is unfaithful, but those who have so little—especially in a nation of so much—might be tempted to steal to have more. At the very least, one might be tempted to think ill of those who have so much, and they might fight the nagging pain of bitterness from feeling left out of the “good life.”
While few, if any, of us would desire poverty, we are all “poorer” than someone (though we still have much). What is our attitude toward those with many nice things? Do we ever consider “fudging the numbers” just a bit to have more? Isn't such stealing?
We do not know how much or how little we will have in our lifetime. Whether rich, poor, or in the middle, our view of money is what matters. It must remain balanced. We must learn to give to the Lord and to help others. We must learn to save for future purchases and needs. We must learn to spend wisely.
Above all, we must learn that all we have comes from God. We are but stewards of His blessings, and “It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:2).
Adam Faughn preaches for the Lebanon Road Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.