Purposed Poverty

Michael Beck

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” (Proverbs 13:7)

Jesus warned His disciples to beware of greed – “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15) More is not always better. In fact, “the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” (Prov. 1:32)

The counsel of Paul was to be content with food and raiment. (1 Tim. 6:8) He warned against a determined effort to make one’s self rich. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1 Tim. 6:9) Jesus taught us to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13) We tempt the Lord when we pursue that which leads us into “temptation and a snare.” The love of money is the root of all evil and cannot be satisfied. “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Eccles. 5:10)

It is a strange phenomenon that rich people can also be the stingiest. Their storing up of treasure on earth has no end. Their hand is chained in giving because their constant need is to see their bank account go up, not down. Yet, God’s ways are counterintuitive: “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” (Prov. 11:24) One way or another, our bank accounts will empty – either through “evil travail” or purposed generosity. “There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. But those riches perish by evil travail …” (Eccl. 5:13)

David was not afraid to give. He experienced God’s replenishing hand. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.” (Psalm 37:24,25) And though the merciful make themselves poorer through their giving, they are still better off than the wealthy miser. “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.” (Psalm 37:16) “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” (Prov. 15:16)

The truly great treasure is a good conscience that comes by walking in the fear of God. “… The fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Isa. 33:6) We fear God when we walk in alignment with His heart – hating what He hates, and loving what He loves.

People matter more to God than things. He delights in mercy. He wants us to choose and pursue what He delights in. Our driving passions define us. More than our words, they tell others who we are at heart. Are we rich toward God, or rich toward ourselves? How we give, or don’t give answers that question. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21) An empty earthly bank account could be a sign of God’s judgment, or it could signal you have great riches accruing in heaven’s bank.

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.