Proverbs 11:4

Proverbs 11:4 "Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death."
Proverbs 11:4 Church East Aurora NY
The Psalmist wrote, “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130).  Scripture plays the role of spotlight in our world as it shines a light on truth in a world of spiritual darkness.  This proverb is one such case where it shines a light on a truth otherwise hid to most in our world.  It is widely believed that financial security is the ultimate security.  Most would agree with the idea that if you have enough money, you’ll be able to absorb just about anything that life throws your way.  With enough money in the bank, you can handle a loss of job.  With enough money in the bank, you can handle a loss of health.  With enough money in the bank, you can handle a slowdown in the economy.  With enough money in the bank, you can even handle a loss of companion.  At least in the developed world, financial security is viewed as the epitome of success.  In the eyes of most in our society, financial security means you’ll never have to worry about food, shelter, transportation, healthcare and even social boredom.

Because this is the pervasive mindset in our society, people pursue financial security at just about any cost.  Making and accruing money is for most the priority in life.  Filled bank accounts are more comforting than healthy relationships.  Growing investment portfolios are more comforting than healthy bodies.  Overtime checks are more soothing than thriving spiritual lives.  Like it or not, our society is obsessed with financial security and personal net worth.
 
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Solomon turned on the spotlight when he penned this proverb.  He exposed the truth regarding financial security in a world with moral laws executed by a righteous Judge.  Simply put, financial security means nothing to God when the calendar reads, “the day of wrath.”  If a person angers God, it won’t matter what his net worth is.  If a person provokes the wrath of Almighty God, no amount of money can pay God off.  If God is angered, there isn’t enough money in the world that can reverse or remedy the sentence.  There is most certainly a scenario in our world where money is useless to help and it is the scenario where God is angered.

That being said, it is important to see all of the truth that Solomon’s proverb is exposing.  Financial security isn’t being portrayed as foolish or useless.  Riches aren’t being condemned as ungodly or carnal.  Often throughout this same book, riches are declared the blessing of God and the offspring of wisdom.  Often throughout this same book, financial security accompanies the wise.  It’s not that financial security is wrong to pursue – it’s just that financial security should never come at the expense of moral security.  This proverb doesn’t condemn riches but it does expose the uselessness and powerlessness of riches when God is angered.  This proverb then highlights in contrast the usefulness and power of righteousness on that day.
 
The deeper meaning of this proverb is that everyone experiences a “moral rainy day.”  Because everyone is imperfect, both the wealthy and the poor experience a “moral rainy day” at times in their lives.  Because we are all morally flawed, we all experience days of God’s displeasure and dissatisfaction.  The person who escapes the hottest flame of God’s wrath is not the person with the most money but instead, the person with the most righteousness.  When a person offends God, it is their moral net worth that means something to God as it pertains to mercy.  If a person has spent his life making and saving money at the expense of his soul, that person will have nothing of value in God’s eyes when it comes time for sentencing.  If a person has spent his life developing and pursuing righteousness, that person will have something of value in God’s eyes when it comes time for punishment.

David, the son of Jesse, is a very good example of this truth.  David experienced a “moral rainy day,” a day that he brought upon himself.  It didn’t just rain either – it poured!  David coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery with that man’s wife, killed that man in order to hide his affair and then he ultimately stole that man’s wife.  God was furious with David and on “the day of wrath,” God delivered him from death when he could’ve justly been sentenced to death.  Why did God “deliver him from death?”  Not because he was wealthy but because he was righteous.  He may not have been righteous at that point in his life but he had spent the majority of his life pursuing righteousness.  He had filled his moral bank with righteousness.  God spared his life because he offered moral value to the world in which he was living.  God could still use David and He wanted to still use David.  David was financially secure but his morality wasn’t compromised in his pursuit of financial security.  In general, David understood this truth as evidenced by the sixth psalm when he wrote, “O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

In contrast, consider Nebuchadnezzar as he built a massive kingdom and as a result, experienced the height of financial security.  Through the prophet Daniel, God warned him not to sacrifice his morality for financial security.  He gave no attention to his soul while focusing on his bank account and as a result, lost everything.  All of his wealth meant nothing to God.  He was probably the wealthiest man in the world at the time but it did him no good on the day of God’s wrath.  It didn’t resolve his hunger.  It didn’t remedy his homelessness.  It didn’t cut his hair or trim his nails.  It didn’t bring him comfort or companionship.

Are you saving for the rainy day?  When you, by your sin cause the clouds of God’s wrath to rain judgment on you, does God deliver you from His highest penalty because of your moral worth?  Are you pursuing spiritual security by pursuing righteousness?  Or are you just focusing on saving for the rainy day by saving money, believing that money can fix just about any problem?  Are you skipping church for a big overtime check?  Are you sacrificing Bible reading for more side jobs?  Are you forfeiting ministry for big pay days?  Are you withholding tithes and offerings for large bank accounts?  Are you choosing worry over faith by making sure you have enough money to cover every problem that could come your way?
 
The day of God’s wrath touches all of us because we’re all sinners.  God extends mercy to the sinners who make spiritual security a priority over financial security.  There is nothing to motivate God to have mercy on sinners who make financial security a priority over spiritual security.  Save properly for the inevitable rainy day by pursuing righteousness.

Jesus asked, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

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