Proverbs is a fun book, full of great wisdom to live by. Seriously, some parts are just plain genius! But occasionally I come across passages that I wish weren’t there. Passages where I hope that maybe king Solomon had a slight mental slip, or decided to throw in something crazy for fun, just to see whether anyone would follow such wacky advice.
Proverbs 30:7-9 is an example of this,
‘Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying…’
OK, let’s stop there. That’s a sensible prayer, isn’t it? Why not just make your request one thing, and make it “help me tell the truth”? But no, good old Solomon keeps going,
‘…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.’
Now, as someone who is planning on going out to Japan long-term, the question of money is one I cannot avoid. No money, no eaty (as we would say, if it were not for the unreasonable constraints of English grammar). A couple of folk have mentioned to me that what I really need is to meet a super-rich Christian businessperson with a heart for Japan. Because then I could get them to bankroll my ministry and I wouldn’t have to worry about money.
But king Solomon, a man not unacquainted with money (since, for a short while, he owned most of it), has other ideas. He saw the danger of being fully financially secure. Danger? Of having a healthy bank balance? Crazy, right? But listen to what he says,
‘…lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”’
The danger is that we deny the One who gives us all things. We say, “Who is the LORD?” and we go our own way: believing that we are the sole and ultimate cause behind our prosperity, believing the lie that “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” You’re not. I’m not. No one is. And when we act like it we separate ourselves from the true Captain of our soul.
So whilst it would be nice to bump into a rich oil baron who wants to see indigenous, relevant, lively churches planted across Japan (which is sort of my thing in case you missed it), it would also be very dangerous. Much safer, much better is the place of being daily dependent on God. Sure, if I don’t have enough money then my vision will become unattainable (hence the ‘neither poverty…’ bit). But if I have too much money then my vision will become distorted, and I will begin to deny the very Lord whom I have set out to tell people about.
So pray for me, and for others doing the work of missions: pray that God would keep us truthful and that He’d give us neither poverty nor riches.